Â£7.95 I SS UE 2 6 AUT UM N 2017 INSIDE THE WORLD OF ELITE PERFORMANCE CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY SADDLEBACK
M O U N TA I N B I K E E D I T I O N
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C H A R L I E A N D J O E | C H A S I N G T H E E W S | M 2 9 P R OJ E C T PA R T 2 | A R D M O O R S | WO R L D C H A M P S M E DA L B I K E
£7.95 I SS UE 2 6 AUT UM N 2017 INSIDE THE WORLD OF ELITE PERFORMANCE CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY SADDLEBACK
R OA D E D I T I O N
3 D G L ASS E S E N C LO S E D
3 T S T R A D A | P H I L I P G A I M O N ’ S D R A F T A N I M A L S | R O U L E U R C L A S S I C | J A M E S C U N N A M A’ S K O N A | I N D O O R T R A I N I N G
I N CYC L E BY SA D D L E BAC K
Whether at work or play, passion for cycling runs through everything we do at Saddleback. During our nine-to-five, we’re lucky enough to work with the world’s best elite performance brands. Meanwhile, mornings, evenings, weekends and lunch hours are devoted to riding for number-crunching performance, stay-fast fitness or just to soak up the exhilarating feeling of the great outdoors. Incycle magazine is the result of that complete dedication to cycling and our expression of love for the sport. It’s our goal to share content that brings you closer to riding, encapsulating everything that gets our hearts pumping from the exhausted jubilation of conquering a col to the pulserocketing thrill of taming a tough downhill run and everything in between. We hope you enjoy it.
3 T C YC L I N G / A LC H E M Y B I C YC L E CO. / C A S T E L L I C YC L I N G C H R I S K I N G / E N V E / I N T E N S E C YC L E S / R OTO R B I K E CO M P O N E N T S / S I D I S I L C A / S TA G E S C YC L I N G / T R OY L E E D E S I G N S
EDITOR IN CHIEF / DESIGN NICK COX
SENIOR WRITER DANIEL OAKSHOTT
TOM BALLARD, MIRINDA CARFRAE, NICK COX, DECLAN DEEHAN, ROSS GRIMMETT, RICHARD MARDLE, RIC MCLAUGHLIN, DANIEL OAKSHOTT, BEN PLENGE, BENJAMIN SHARP, JEFF STEBER, ALEX TURNER
GEORGE ACTON, NICK COX, RUSS ELLIS, FINISHERPIX, NATHAN HUGHES, IAN LEAN, IAN MATTESON, MOONHEAD MEDIA, ARD MOORS, DUNCAN PHILPOTT, BEN POWELL, REDBULL CONTENT POOL, JOBY SESSIONS
APPLE COLOUR, BRISTOL UK, ON RECYCLED PAPER
The Intense founder talks the rise, fall and rise of the 29er downhill bike.
Friend of the pros, MTB journalist Ric travels the world to cover the sport’s biggest races.
Owner of MTBStrength Factory, Ben is our go-to off-road fitness expert.
Former Team USA cycling coach, Benjamin’s the man when it comes to training with a power meter.
I N C YC L E .CO. U K | S A D D L E B AC K .CO. U K S A D D L E B A C K L I M I T E D 1 2 A P O L L O P A R K , A R M S T R O N G W AY, YA T E , B R I S T O L B S 3 7 5 A H
Pro photographer Joby shot this month’s Fresh Produce and Style Guide features.
I SS UE 26 AU TU MN 2 01 7 INSIDE THE WORLD OF ROAD AND MOUNTAIN BIKING BROUGHT TO YOU BY SADDLEBACK
So that’s it – summer is truly behind us, the clocks have changed and the nights are drawing in. For a lot of us, the motivation that kept the fire burning in the warmer months will now be put severely to the test as we wrestle with the prospect of heading out out into the dark, the wet and the cold. So is it really all doom and gloom; should we just give in and hang our bikes up until spring? Probably not. Someone once told me that when training for the Fred Whitton challenge in May, it’s all about the winter you have. Keep up the training, and the momentum, and you will reap the rewards when the time comes for clambering all over the Lake District. If you don’t, it’s much more likely to all become too difficult. Whatever discipline you participate in, the winter is your proving ground for the coming year ahead. Forget New Year’s resolutions; now’s the time to make the change and keep on rolling. Come the spring and summer you’ll be going faster, having more fun and dominating the competition (or at the very least dominating your mates who couldn’t be bothered to go outside). Here at Saddleback we want to make all this as easy for you as possible. So read on, let us inspire the new ‘winter you’ with in-depth features, beautiful photography, a look at the latest products and some training, food and tech knowledge. We’re all in this together – don’t drop the mantle and we’ll see you back on the trails and roads in the spring – faster than ever.
N I C K COX E D I TO R - I N - C H I E F / D E S I G N
BRANDON SEMENUK AT RED BULL RAMPAGE 2017, GIVING USÂ A GLIMPSE OF THE UPCOMING 2018 TROY LEE RANGE
ON THE 3D COVER
Brandon Semenuk – Troy Lee Athlete Photographer: Redbull Content Pool Redbull Rampage 2017 George Wise – Saddleback’s 3T pilot Photographer: Joby Sessions Cheddar Gorge 2017
08 T H E G A L L E R Y
42 S T Y L E G U I D E
58 R O A D R E V O L U T I O N
108 S TA F F R I D E
HAWAIIAN HEAT, RAMPAGE STYLING, CHASING WORLDS SILVER: OUR FAVOURITE RECENT CYCLING IMAGES
WHETHER YOU’RE A DIE-HARD ROADIE OR A DIRT-SEEKING DOWNHILLER, LOOKING GOOD IS IMPORTANT
INTENSE RACING UK RIDER JOE BREEDEN’S WORLD CHAMPS SILVER MEDAL-WINNING INTENSE M16
18 N E W S R O U N D U P
50 T E C H
3T’S STRADA IS CHANGING HOW WE THINK ABOUT ROAD BIKES. CO-OWNER AND DESIGN HEAD GERARD VROOMEN DISCUSSES HIS LATEST MASTERPIECE
CASTELLI IN THE PINK, 3T JOINS AQUA BLUE SPORT, SIDI’S WORLDTOUR
SETTING UP THE ALDHU, ROTOR’S LIGHTEST-EVER CRANKSET –
68 C H A R L I E A N D J O E
RICHARD, DECLAN, NICK AND TOM TALK SELF-CONSCIOUS CYCLING NONSENSE
WINS BONANZA, AND MORE
WE SHOW YOU HOW
20 AUTUMN HOUSE SHOW
52 F O O D
WITH INTENSE RACING UK, RIDERS CHARLIE HATTON AND JOE BREEDEN CHAT WITH RIC MCLAUGHLIN
DANIEL OAKSHOTT REPORTS ON 3T’S RECENT STAR TURN AT SADDLEBACK’S HEADQUARTERS
SCALLOPS, SMOKED HADDOCK RISOTTO AND PEA PUREE MAKE AN IDEAL POST-BIG RIDE TREAT
24 A R D M O O R S E N D U R O
54 T R A I N I N G
DECLAN DEEHAN GETS A MISTY FIRST TASTE OF THE NORTH YORKSHIRE EVENT, AND LEAVES WANTING MORE
MAKING INDOOR WINTER SESSIONS MORE BEARABLE, PLUS LEG STRENGTHENING FOR CYCLISTS
AFTER A HUGELY SUCCESSFUL 2017
76 PA I N A N D G A I N JAMES CUNNAMA RELIVES THE HEAT, AGONY AND BEAUTY OF THE 2017 IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ON HAWAII’S BIG ISLAND
84 P E R P E T U A L M O T I O N RIC MCLAUGHLIN COUNTS THE MILES SPENT CHASING THE UCI WORLD CUP AND ENDURO WORLD SERIES
28 R O U L E U R C L A S S I C TOM BALLARD WITNESSES A MOUTHWATERING CYCLING HISTORY LESSON TAKING SHAPE
92 D R A F T A N I M A L EX-WORLDTOUR RACER PHIL GAIMON RECOUNTS HIS CRAZY FIRST RACE WITH GARMIN-SHARP AT THE 2014 TOUR DE SAN LUIS
32 F R E S H P R O D U C E HOT, NEW AND BEAUTIFUL BIKES AND GEAR FROM OUR ROAD AND MOUNTAIN BIKING PARTNERS
98 T H E M 2 9 P R O J E C T
38 T O P F I V E CASTELLI BRAND MANAGER STEVE SMITH LOOKS BACK ON SOME OF THE ITALIAN FIRM’S RECENT WINNERS
JEFF STEBER BRINGS THE EVOLUTION OF THE 29ER DOWNHILL BIKE BANG UP TO DATE AS HIS NEW M-SERIES MACHINES TASTE SUCCESS
39 AT H L E T E S U C C E S S
104 S H O P F O C U S
A LOOK AT WHAT OUR ATHLETES HAVE ACHIEVED DURING 2017
PROLOGUE PERFORMANCE CYCLING’S JOHN REID TALKS BRAND BUILDING, INTERIOR DESIGN AND DRAWING ON YORKSHIRE’S CYCLING SUCCESS STORY
40 T W E N T Y Q U E S T I O N S WORLD CHAMPION TRIATHLETE MIRINDA CARFRAE SPILLS THE BEANS
110 S TA F F C O L U M N S IN THIS ISSUE’S STAFF RAMBLINGS
112 I N S TA G R A M S A SELECTION OF BEAUTIFUL SQUARE PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF SADDLEBACK’S BRAND PARTNERS
113 F I N A L T H O U G H T THE FUTURE IS 1X, NOW LET’S STOP ARGUING, SAYS GERARD VROOMEN, 3T’S CO-OWNER AND HEAD OF DESIGN
114 N E X T I S S U E A QUICK TEASE OF WHAT TO EXPECT IN OUR NEXT ISSUE – OUT IN MARCH
CASTELLI CYCLING CONQUERING THE COLD PHOTO: EDOARDO CIVIERO
GEORGE WISE – SADDLEBACK LTD FIGHTING RAIN ON CHEDDAR’S WINDING ROADS PHOTO: JOBY SESSIONS
BRANDON SEMENUK â€“ TROY LEE DESIGNS ALWAYS THE MOST STYLISH RIDER AT RAMPAGE PHOTO: RED BULL CONTENT POOL
SARAH CROWLEY â€“ ENVE ACCLIMATISING IN THE HAWAIIAN SUN, READY FOR KONA PHOTO: IAN MATTESON
JOE BREEDEN â€“ INTENSE RACING UK FULL TILT AND ON HIS WAY TO CLAIMING WORLDS SILVER PHOTO: DAN GRIFFITHS / MOONHEAD MEDIA
NEWSROUNDUP INTENSE RACING UK
GET WELL SOON JOE
Intense Racing UK star Joe Breeden (see p69) broke his kneecap at a team meet in November. We wish him a speedy return to riding.
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2017
SILVER FOR CHARLES
STRADA SCOOPS AWARD
Rotor athlete Lucy Charles secured second in her first ever pro appearance at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
The 3T Strada success story continued in September when it was made the recipient of the Interbike Product Innovation Award.
CROWLEY ON THE PODIUM
ENVE and Rotor athlete Sarah Crowley took third in Kona, following up on her 2017 ITU long-distance world title.
BC GIVES DISCS THE OK
PHOTO: ROTOR COMPONENTS
British Cycling has announced that disc-equipped bikes will be eligible for use at all levels of domestic competition in road and closed circuit races from January 1 2018, meaning there’s never been a better time to adopt the technology.
CASTELLI BACK IN PINK FOR THE 2018 GIRO D’ITALIA After a 26-year break, the Castelli scorpion will once again adorn the Maglia Rosa – the most iconic jersey in Italian cycling – at next year’s Giro d’Italia. A new four-year agreement will see Castelli supplying all four leaders’ jerseys to the Corsa Rosa: the Maglia Rosa of the general classification leader; the Maglia Ciclamino, the bright cyclamen sprinters’ jersey; the Maglia Azzurra, the blue jersey that marks out the king of the mountains; and the Maglia Bianca, which goes to the best young rider. Each garment will offer its bearer a performance advantage thanks to Castelli’s intensive research and development, wind tunnel testing and obsessive attention to detail. “We are very proud to have brought the scorpion back onto the roads of the Giro d’Italia,” said Castelli brand manager, Steve Smith. “For an Italian company to be an RCS partner in ‘the toughest race in the world’s most beautiful place’ is an enormous honour. In addition, it adds lustre to an Italian company that today defines excellence in the world of cycling clothing.” The Italian brand is no stranger to its home Grand Tour, having supplied jerseys to the race between 1981 and 1992, providing the Maglia Rosa to champions including Battaglin, Saronni, Hinault, Moser, Hampsten, Bugno and Indurain.
WNT-ROTOR PRO CYCLING TO USE UNO IN 2018 In 2018 Rotor will become co-title sponsor of the newly renamed WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling team, continuing to support the women’s UCI-registered team in its third season. The ongoing partnership will mean even more exposure for Rotor, not only as title sponsor, but as equipment supplier. As the team takes on the highest levels of UCI racing across Europe next season, the riders’ new Orbea Orca OMR bikes will be the only ones in the peloton equipped with the complete discbrake Rotor Uno fully hydraulic groupset. The team will also be using 2INpower, Rotor’s most advanced dual-leg power meter, complete with Q-Rings and wheels built around Rvolver hubs. All these products, made in Spain at Rotor’s Madrid facility, are machined using WNT tooling.
PHOTO: ROTOR COMPONENTS
3T JOINS AQUA BLUE SPORT FOR THE 2018 SEASON With its revolutionary Strada road bike having made big waves in the cycling industry since its reveal in June, 3T has now joined forces with UCI Professional Continental team Aqua Blue Sport to show what the bike can do in the pro peloton during the 2018 season. The partnership means that the 1x, wide-tyred, disc-equipped aero road bike will be tested in the sport’s biggest races by the Ireland-based squad, which showed huge promise this year, even securing Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España courtesy of Stefan Denifl. RACE VICTORIES
While the Strada’s appearance will no doubt cause a stir in the peloton, the bike underwent a comprehensive testing process during which team riders sought to find its limits. The tests culminated at the team’s training camp in the south of France, where 3T engineers met with riders and technological staff before making the final decision to put the Strada into service.
SIDI CELEBRATES HUGE WORLDTOUR WINS HAUL
3T’s co-owner and head of design, Gerard Vroomen, said: “Aqua Blue Sport is doing something different and that is exciting. We watched Aqua Blue Sport’s successes on the roads with victories at the US National Championships, the Tour of Austria and the Vuelta. Even more importantly, they recognise that the pro-cycling business model has to change and their innovative new funding model is a great idea. Taking all of this together, we felt that this was something we really wanted to get involved in.”
Riders wearing Sidi shoes tallied up an astonishing 53 UCI WorldTour victories in 2017. The wins came throughout the season, beginning with Marcel Kittel’s Stage 1 victory at the Abu Dhabi Tour in February and ending with Fernando Gaviria’s fourth-stage win during the Tour of Guangxi in October.
Aqua Blue Sport owner Rick Delaney said of the announcement that the team are “very much attracted” to innovation and to people who are moving cycling forward. “What Gerard Vroomen and 3T have designed is truly a step forward in bicycle design,” Delaney added. “We are delighted to bring this bike to the pro ranks and ride it in the world’s biggest events.” The Aqua Blue Sport paint scheme for the Strada was revealed at the Rouleur Classic in November (see page 28) and combines the team’s signature blue and gold with a subtle clover motif. Find out more about the Strada’s development in our exclusive feature with Gerard Vroomen on page 58.
Along the way, Sidi shoes crossed the line first at Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, at the Criterium du Dauphine, Tour de Suisse and Clásica San Sebastián, as well as at eight stages of the Giro d’Italia, nine stages of the Tour de France and 10 stages of the Vuelta a España. Take nonWorldTour races into account and the victories grow beyond 150, including four national titles. Astana scored the most victories with 18 while Marcel Kittel’s 14 wins this year put him on top of Sidi’s individual podium.
FOR THE LATEST NEWS HEAD OVER TO WWW.SADDLEBACK.CO.UK
SADDLEBACK HOUSE SHOW 3T’s new Strada and Exploro rides took centre stage at our autumn shindig, with Intense’s Jeff Steber also flying in WORDS: DANIEL OAKSHOTT PHOTOS: JOBY SESSIONS
The Autumn House Show is the perfect opportunity for our dealers to visit Saddleback’s HQ and see the latest products from all of our prestigious brands – and it was a pleasure to welcome them back once again. Once guests had some cake and a coffee in hand, they took their time perusing the products in both of the purpose-built showrooms, which were decked out in the finest products the Saddleback family of brands has to offer. Topping the bill for the winter show was the most recent addition to the Saddleback family. 3T is a brand steeped in heritage that also consistently pushes the norms of cycling. Its most notable recent creations are the Strada aero road bike and Exploro aero adventure bike, both of which have been designed by aerodynamic mastermind, Gerard Vroomen. The Strada is, Gerard says, “the road bike all other brands will wish they designed in five years’ time”. It looks fast, and it rides fast. Designed around a 1x groupset and 28mm tyres, the Strada has been rigorously tested in the wind-tunnel to ensure it’s as aerodynamic as is possible. Excitement building Prior to the opening of the show, marketing manager Declan Deehan had said how excited he was about this one. “Everything has come together so well in terms of how we are presenting our brands, the brand representatives we have in attendance and the number of guests signed up to Exploro demo rides,” he said. “The show is all about bringing our dealers, brands and staff together to continue to grow the relationships which are so important to us.” The Exploro was a key talking point at the show, which was to be expected considering its distinctive character as a bike designed for mixed terrain with a huge focus on aerodynamics. Rather than try to explain just how good the Exploro is, we opted to let dealers find out for themselves.
Over the course of the three days we ran five Exploro demo rides, which took guests on an 18-mile loop, taking in a mixture of lanes, bridleways and hills to give an idea of what the Exploro can do in almost all situations. It’s safe to say that not a single person returned without a huge smile on their face, trying to work out how to make room for an Exploro in their bike stable. History lessons We were thrilled to have Jeff Steber fly over direct from Temecula, California to join us for the Autumn House Show this year. Jeff hosted a number of seminars across the three days in order to take guests through the brand’s history and current offerings, and even dropped hints about a new 29er downhill bike that’s just around the corner. Outside of seminars, Jeff was gracious enough to spend plenty of time getting to know dealers one-on-one. Another first for Saddleback was hosting Wolfgang Turainsky and Alexandra Mellier of Rotor. With the release of the brand-new, lightweight Aldhu cranks (see page 50) following the big reveal at Eurobike, it was great to get a solid understanding of where the model sits within the Rotor offering, and exactly what it brings to the table. For the first time ever, meanwhile, Troy Lee Designs has decided to launch a smaller early-release range, and to support this we were joined by Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell and Lenny Karsmakers who flew in especially for the House Show. Having these guys around was invaluable as they were able to provide an incredible, first-hand insight into the latest range, what is around the corner for the brand and the history of Troy Lee Designs. Once guests had had their fill of product, seminars and demo rides, it was naturally time to head into the car park to fill their bellies. As is now a Saddleback House Show tradition, we had laid on a selection of the best food we could get our hands on. From the finest artisan pizzas in the land (in our opinions) to freshly made burgers and fries there was definitely something for everyone. After some delicious grub, we had coffee and cake on offer, expertly made by in-house baristas. It’s safe to say that no one left hungry, except maybe for another spin on an Exploro…
ARD MOORS ENDURO Along with its sister event the Ard Rock, this is fast becoming an essential part of the MTB calendar WORDS: DECLAN DEEHAN PHOTOS: ARD MOORS
As a sister event to the insanely popular Ard Rock Enduro, the Ard Moors is growing so rapidly in popularity that simply gaining an entry into either one is becoming a challenge. Once again for the 2017 season Saddleback was proud to have one of our brands, in the form of ENVE, taking up a role as title sponsor. The festival feel the Rafferty brothers have succeeded in capturing at their events has gone a long way towards making both Rock and Moors must-dos on many mountain bikers’ calendars. They appeal to a wide range of riders, from your full factory enduro racers to groups of friends making a weekend of it, to people who just want to try enduro racing for the first time in a welcoming and friendly format. Both seem to capture a sense of adventure and somehow remove the confines of the normal between-the-tape race feel in a way that’s quite special. The Ard Moors takes place at Lord Stones Country Park on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors national park – if you have raced the Ard Rock event before, it’s roughly an hour from there. Andrew Massey, our resident wheel wizard and I arrived early Saturday morning to what strongly resembled a scene for the movie The Fog. On the steep drive to the setup area we were met with car after car and van after van. “Is it cancelled?” Andrew asked me. In all honesty I wouldn’t have been surprised, given the conditions, so as we found our exhibition area I put the question to the first rider I met. “No, all those leaving will be the southerners,” he answered like a true Yorkshireman. That’s the spirit – we cracked on with setup. Exhibiting the goods With ENVE being the title sponsor of the event, we’d brought along some of the brand’s all-new M-series wheels, which Saddleback recently helped launch. They boast an all-new redesigned rim shape and layup, with lower, wider profiles and many more options than before, enabling you to really
fine-tune things according to what you want from a carbon wheelset. The enduro-oriented M7, for example, is available as the M7 30 (which I use) for 2.3-2.5in tyres, or as the M7 35 if you want a wider profile. All M7s and DH/freeride-specific M9s also come with an installed protective rim strip, a smart piece of kit that serves multiple purposes. It increases protection from rim strikes, almost eliminates the chance of pinch flats, doubles up as your rim tape and enables a rider to experiment more with tyre pressures for performance gains. Alongside ENVE we brought Chris King. With Andrew at hand we were able to give multiple demonstrations of dismantling a King hub and to explain more about this incredible and truly iconic bit of kit. Race time Products explained, tech talks done, it was time for racing – with a choice between 35km five-stage enduro format and 30km four-stage sprint format on offer. As mentioned the Ard Moors attracts a great array of characters, and factoring in the crazy conditions all looked set for an interesting day. I was a bit gutted not to be racing – although people were wet and muddy as you like, it was smiles all round during practice. Race day saw everyone go at it hard, rider after rider coming back elated to have had clean runs. Saddleback’s team, Intense Racing UK, was in attendance with Sam Flockhart and Ajay Jones keen to get on the steps. Ajay was one away in the end, finishing fourth out of 111 and commenting that it was the most fun he had had in the mud in ages. But Sam raced clean all weekend, seeming to carry great momentum, and stood on the second step at the end of the race – an amazing result for him given that there were some very fast locals in attendance. Well done to both riders on a superb weekend of racing. And while this was the first year for me in attendance at the Ard events, I’ll certainly be looking to make a habit of it. If you haven’t had the pleasure before, I’d recommend getting on it next year – you won’t be disappointed.
ROULEUR CLASSIC The event’s third edition featured a mouthwatering shrine to cycling’s history, with Saddleback brands at its heart WORDS: TOM BALLARD PHOTOS: BEN POWELL
Held for the second year at Victoria House in central London, the third edition of the Rouleur Classic once again combined high-end cycling tech with talks and appearances from cycling royalty past and present. The centrepiece of this year’s show was the History of Elite Performance exhibition, a showcase of classic and modern cycling products that celebrate the rich histories of the sport’s most prestigious brands. The project gave Saddleback the opportunity to create a bespoke show-within-a-show environment in order to give cycling aficionados the opportunity to feel closer to the heritage each company has built through technological innovation and race victories. With free reign to create something really special, our own Declan Deehan, Saddleback’s marketing manager, came up with the concept for the exhibition while designer Ben Powell was charged with creating the exhibition’s look and bringing that vision to fruition. Classics in context The huge show space, set apart from the standard displays used elsewhere throughout the Rouleur Classic, would provide the backdrop for 3T, Alchemy, Castelli, ENVE, Rotor, Sidi and Stages – along with David Millar’s Chpt3 collection. We sent our brands on a quest through their vaults to find decades-old products and pro-team special items while we worked on the images and content that would give context to all the classic exhibits. The weeks running up to the show were busy but hugely exciting as deliveries of prototypes, woollen jerseys and limited-edition products began arriving at Saddleback HQ. Soon, Ben’s designs were also completed, the bespoke stands, information boards and added extras put into production.
Three van loads and two days of building later and the exhibition was ready for public viewing in Victoria House. A ‘gold line’ motif would lead showgoers around the history of each brand and some truly special products. The Sidi shoes on show – including the original Mod Titanium – are so rare that the brand opted to fly them over in person rather than courier them. Meanwhile, the Rotor RS4X cranks are a beautiful curio of the pre-Q-Rings age. We also struck gold with Castelli’s collection of classic woollen jerseys, including the Maglia Rosa as well as the original prototype Gabba, and Stages provided a rare Team Sky exclusive power meter and prototype LR unit. 3T’s Gimondi bars contrasted nicely with the brand-new Strada painted by FatCreations to celebrate the brand’s new partnership with Aqua Blue Sport. ENVE’s beautiful handmade carbon wheels and Chris King’s hubs need little introduction, the iconic logo of the former and buzzing freehub of the latter guaranteed to attract admirers. Complementing these US brands were Alchemy Atlas and Eros bikes – the finest examples of handmade carbon and titanium there are. Finally, David Millar’s Chpt3 collection had some new examples lined up, with the man himself due for an appearance at the show to take attendees through the growing brand’s output. Eyes on the prizes In the centre of the exhibition was a transparent cabinet with a digital combination lock housing spectacular prizes including Sidi shoes and even a 3T Strada frame. Commissioned specifically for the Rouleur Classic, the keenest showgoers would have the chance to try their luck in opening the cabinet using the four-digit code received on entry. Once open to the public on Thursday night, the champagne and chat began to flow in equal measure as guests meandered among the exhibits. The atmosphere was once again one of barely concealed excitement as both former and current pros walked the halls and showgoers got up close to the historic products. The prizes were claimed by a few lucky attendees who left beaming. Enthusiasm for the show was undimmed over the Friday and Saturday sessions, with hundreds of cycling fans moving wide-eyed through the exhibition, which has received fantastic feedback across the board.
WORDS: DANIEL OAKSHOTT ALL PHOTOS: JOBY SESSIONS
ENVE M735 WHEELSET The M735 is the ideal choice for gravity riders who want a reliably strong, incredibly light wheelset that offers the ultimate protection against flats thanks to its innovative protective rim strip. If you like to push yourself when riding down steep, technical tracks, the M735 will allow you to run lower pressures confidently without compromising on speed. ENVEâ€™s solution to the problem of damaging rims at low pressures is a new, wider rim shape paired with its patent pending protective rim strip, an energy absorbing layer between rim and tyre which adds no weight and greatly improves impact resistance.
CASTELLI ITALIA KIT The limited-edition Castelli Italia Kit is a collaborative effort between Saddleback and Castelli to produce the perfect winter kit with Italian flair. The Windstopper Vest is highly breathable and comfortable with a sleek aero fit. Three rear pockets offer plenty of storage, and the vest packs small enough to pocket. The LS Jersey FZ is a heavier weight, thermal jersey striking a fine balance between comfort, breathability and aerodynamics. The LW Bibtight is ideal for mild winter days with a thermal bibtight from the bottom of the kneecap up and a Nano Light legwarmer for the lower leg. As youâ€™ll be wearing it so often, it also has a Progetto X2 Air seat pad.
SIDI ALBA & TRACE The Alba is the new entry-level road shoe from Sidi, but itâ€™s far from entry-level in terms of features. Available in a choice of five gorgeously simple designs with that classic Sidi style, the Alba offers road riders a great fit thanks to the two Velcro straps and Techno 3 dial system. If you liked the Buvel, meanwhile, you will love the Trace. It has the classic Sidi aesthetic and is durable enough to take whatever the trails can throw at it. The same closure system as on the Alba ensures riders benefit from a great fit, while the MTB RS17 sole offers the option to install toe spikes and packs enough tread to take whatever you can throw at it.
CHRIS KING COMPONENTS FRUIT PUNCH As if the vast rainbow of colours already available from Chris King weren’t enticing enough, the brand has now added Fruit Punch to the mix. A lip-licking hot pink with a matte finish, they’ll add a splash of colour to a stealthy, all-black bike or ramp up an in-your-face colour scheme. At the heart of all Chris King components are the bearings, which are designed to wear in, rather than out, over time and are incredibly easy for users to service. The simple maintenance regime will ensure you can enjoy a lifetime of smooth rolling – and this is what makes Chris King components the best in the world.
SILCA TATTICO BLUETOOTH MINI PUMP Since the release of the original Tattico, Silca has been bombarded with requests for a powerful mini pump with a gauge on it. To get around the tiny-gauge-accuracy problem common to this type of pump, Silca has made use of Bluetooth, enabling you to pair the Tattico with your smartphone to accurately view tyre pressure. Otherwise this is the Tattico you know and love. The inverted hose and valving design offers up to 10% more air per stroke than other similar length pumps, a hidden heatsink controls keeps temperature in check at high pressures, and the adaptable cup seal grows with the tube as heat builds in order to ensure optimum efficiency.
TROY LEE RUCKUS JERSEY Given that it was born and bred among rugged ride zones such as the Rockies and the Alps, the Ruckus motto has always been ‘Work hard, play harder’. For 2018, Troy Lee Designs has taken this ethos to the next level, with advanced innovations in fabric design and engineered construction providing the key to fine-tuning Ruckus to meet the needs of today’s enduro racers and all-mountain riders. Sustainability is another factor that Troy Lee Designs has taken seriously, and all the new Ruckus lines are Bluesign-approved to ensure their impact on the environment is minimised.
TOP FIVE Castelli brand manager Steve Smith looks back proudly on some of the Italian firm’s recent winners 3
G I R O F L AT L E G GRIPPER ELASTIC
A E R O R AC E JERSEY
Every professional cyclist has bought one of these – a fact that should speak for itself. The Gabba’s emergence also launched a brand-new type of product, the short-sleeve rain jacket. But the biggest innovation brought in by this truly game-changing garment is that it helped us shift the whole focus of rain gear from being sealed from outside but wetting-out inside from sweat, to concentrating on delivering wet-weather comfort. A few drops of water coming in is no problem if the payoff is you keeping warm and getting extra moisture out.
Back in the bad old days, before we changed everything in 2007 with the first Giro flat laser cut leg gripper, cycling shorts used to have a stitched-in elastic band that could perhaps more accurately be described as a tourniquet. It certainly wasn’t comfortable or aerodynamic – and didn’t even keep the shorts in place effectively. Nowadays the leg endings lay flat instead – and the short stays in place. We’ve continued to improve the flat leg gripper and have contributed this innovation to the cycling industry for the good of all cyclists everywhere.
Until 2008 you could still win a Tour de France in a baggy jersey. Just look at pictures of the pro peloton back then. We figured out you could save about 20 watts at 50 km/h through fit, fabrics and surface features. And it happened to be more comfortable to boot. When the Cervélo TestTeam stormed to the world number one ranking in the spring of 2009 (as a Continental Pro team no less), every other pro team scrambled to catch up and this innovation eventually trickled down to make all your clothing fit better and help you to ride faster.
A rainy ride with old-style Super Roubaix tights, and the accompanying saggy fabric and cold legs, was the genesis of Nano Flex. By bringing a nanotechnology treatment to the surface of the fabric we introduced significant water repellency without compromising breathability, stretch or warmth. So light rain doesn’t penetrate, while a downpour will eventually soak through – but that’s fine, because the fabric stays warm and doesn’t sag. As a result, rainy days are fun instead of miserable. Now, if someone would just get on and invent the selfcleaning bike…
When Heinrich Haussler lost to Mark Cavendish by 3cm on the finish line in Sanremo we started looking for aero advantages to gain 3cm after nearly 300km in the saddle. That led to the first speedsuit designed for road riding: fully functional back pockets, moisture-managing fabrics, unmatched aero performance and the zip front that makes it possible to pee off the bike. The Sanremo Speedsuit debuted at Roubaix and five of the next six were won in the real deal or knock-offs. Finally in 2017 it did what it was created for, as Michal Kwiatkowski pipped Peter Sagan in Sanremo – by 3cm.
AT H L E T E S U C C E S S
JOE HATTON SHOWS OFF HIS WORLD CHAMPS SILVER
SADDLEBACK ATHLETE AND AMBASSADOR RESULT HIGHLIGHTS 2017
INTENSE RACING UK CHARLIE HATTON 1st Elite Men – British Downhill Series, Rhyd-Y-Felin 1st Elite Men – British Downhill Series, Hopton 2nd Elite Men – UK National Championships, Rhyd-Y-Felin 11th Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Val Di Sole 17th Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Vallnord 17h Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Lourdes 27th Elite Men – UCI World Championships DH, Cairns JOE BREEDEN 2nd Junior Men – UCI World Championships DH, Cairns 2nd Junior Men – UCI World Cup DH, Lenzerheide 3rd Junior Men – UCI World Cup DH, Mont St Anne 2nd Junior Men – British Downhill Series, Rhyd-Y-Felin 2nd Junior Men – UK DH National Champs, Rhyd-Y-Felin ROTOR LUCY CHARLES 2nd Elite Women - Ironman World Championships 2nd Elite Women – Ironman Frankfurt 1st Elite Women – Ironman Lanzarote NIKKI BARTLETT 3rd Elite Women – Ironman UK 9th Elite Women – Ironman African Championship SIDI JAKE STEWART 5th Junior Men – World Championships, Road STAGES ANNIE LAST 1st Elite Women – UCI World Cup XC, Lenzerheide 2nd Elite Women – UCI World Championships XC, Cairns 1st Elite Women – UK XC National Champs, Dalby Forest LUCY GOSSAGE 1st – Ironman Italy, September 1st - Ironman Wales, September 1st – Ironman UK, July 1st – Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, June 3rd – Ironman Lanzarote, May DANNY HART 3rd Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Vallnord 3rd Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Lenzerheide 3rd Elite Men – UCI World Cup DH, Mont St Anne 1st Elite Men – Crankworx DH, Innsbruck 3rd Elite Men – UK National Championships, Rhyd-Y-Felin TLD VERONIQUE SANDLER 12th Elite Women – UCI World Cup DH, Fort William 1st Elite Women – British Downhill Series, Hopton 1st Elite Women – British Downhill Series, Llangollen 2nd Elite Women – British Downhill Series, Rhyd-Y-Felin NIKKI WHILES 5th Elite Men – Ard Rock Enduro 12th Elite Men – Tweedlove Enduro, Glentress 62nd Elite Men – EWS Wicklow, Ireland MARTHA GILL 1st Junior Women - Crankworx Canadian Open Enduro 7th U23 Women – UK XC National Champs, Cannock 2nd Elite Women – Megavalanche 3rd Junior Women – EWS Millau 2nd Junior Women – EWS Madiera
MIRINDA CARFRAE OUT ON THE ROAD: “I’M RELENTLESS,” SHE SAYS
MIRINDA CARFRAE The Castelli-sponsored Ironman triple-world champion chats spring rides, near-misses, the loveliness of triathletes and her relentless nature 1. Who is Mirinda Carfrae? A person. 2. How did you find your way into triathlon? When I found out I could run and was able to keep my head above water. Ended up being too short for basketball. 3. How would you describe yourself as an athlete? Relentless. 4. What inspires you to ride your bike? The feeling of freedom you get when out on the bike, also the quest for greatness. 5. What’s your proudest moment in triathlon? 2013 IM world title 6. What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you on a bike? Oh, the usual near-misses with cars or flat tyres when descending a mountain. Definitely dodged a few close calls. 7. Where’s your favourite place in the world to ride and why? Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It’s breathtaking. 8. What’s the best thing about triathlon? The people – triathletes are the nicest group of people. 9. What’s your all-time favourite bike? Felt IA FRD. 10. What piece of Castelli kit couldn’t you live without? My Free Aero W Bibshort 11. What’s the fastest you’ve ever been on a bike? No idea, but maybe close to 60mph. 12. What training session do you always look forward to? 20 x 3 min on the treadmill. Like I said, I’m relentless. 13. Who’s your cycling or triathlon hero/heroine? Craig Alexander and Loretta Harrop. 14. Which is your favourite season for cycling? Long rides in the mountains in early spring. I do like riding in the fall but rides aren’t too long that time of year. There’s nothing like a long ride in the mountains. 15. What can you do better than anyone else you know? Powernap. 16. Are you a data junkie or prefer to ride by feel? Ride by feel. 17. What’s your all-time favourite movie? Dirty Dancing. 18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My small hands. 19. What’s your ultimate post-ride meal? Burger. 20. When you’re not on your bike, out running or in the pool, where’s your favourite place to be? At home with my sweet baby Isabelle and husband Timothy.
WORDS TOM BALLARD PICS JOBY SESSIONS
STYLE GUIDE No matter whether you’re a die-hard roadie or a dirt-seeking downhiller, looking good is important AS THE NIGHTS DRAW IN AND FROSTED GRASS LINES ROAD AND TRAIL, OUR MINDS TURN TO HOW WE CAN CONTINUE OUR TWO-WHEELED PURSUITS IN COMFORT AND, JUST AS CRUCIALLY, STYLE OVER THE WINTER.
Thankfully, comfort and style are the hallmarks of Castelli and Troy Lee Designs apparel. While these cycling powerhouses might hail from the Italian Dolomites and California respectively, and though their interests are firmly separated into road and mountain biking camps, the brands are united in offering a broad range to equip every rider with the technical fabrics, performance cuts and beautiful designs needed to take on Britain’s chilliest rides. With that in mind, we’ve brought together a pair of riders from these disparate disciplines to strut their proverbial stuff in that most classic sartorially outré location – the golf course.
TLD A2 HELMET STARBURST £150 / SKYLINE CHECKER JERSEY £50 / SKYLINE SOLID SHORT £80 / ACE GLOVE £35 / SPEED KNEE SLEEVE £60 / ENVE SOCK £20 CASTELLI MORTIROLO 4 JACKET £175 / SORPASSO 2 BIBTIGHT £150 / SIDI SHOT BLACK £350 ALL PRICES UK RRP INCLUSIVE OF VAT 46
TLD A2 HELMET STARBURST £150 / RUCKUS 3/4 JERSEY £50 / RUCKUS SOLID SHORT £120 / AIR GLOVE £28.50 / RAID KNEE GUARD £120 / ENVE SOCK £20 CASTELLI ALPHA ROS JACKET £260 / VELOCISSIMO 3 BIBTIGHT £100 / SIDI SHOT BLACK £350 ALL PRICES UK RRP INCLUSIVE OF VAT 48
TLD D3 CORONA HELMET £300 / SPRINT MEGABURST JERSEY £50 / SPRINT SOLID PANT £115 / SPRINT GLOVE £27 CASTELLI PERFETTO LONG SLEEVE JERSEY £TBC / VELOCISSIMO 3 BIBTIGHT £100 / SIDI SHOT WHITE £300 ALL PRICES UK RRP INCLUSIVE OF VAT 50
TECH ROSS GRIMMETT | TECHNICAL PRODUCT SPECIALIST
FITTING THE ROTOR ALDHU CRANKSET ROTOR’S NEW ALDHU CRANKSET IS THE BRAND’S LIGHTEST EVER. WE SHOW YOU HOW TO PUT ONE ONTO YOUR BIKE
The Aldhu crankset was launched at Eurobike this September, and is now into stock in the Saddleback warehouse. It takes the mantle as the lightest-ever Rotor crankset, knocking the brand’s 3D+ cranks off the top spot. The Aldhu is a modular design, comprising two separate arms, an axle, and either a spider to accept 110mm Shimano X-patern rings, or Rotor’s direct-mount one-piece double Q- or round-ring setup. Both arms have an integrated extractor mechanism as part of the bolt that secures arm to axle. The design of the spindle combined with this extractor system means the right-hand crank can be removed without any influence on the bottom bracket preload. The fine-tooth pitch of the splines on the Aldhu’s axle permits micro adjustment in 0.25-degree steps between the OCP positions, over the previous 2.5-degree increments of a Q-ring with a 3D+ regular spider. The Aldhu’s axle comes in two versions, a road axle (147mm Q-factor, with 43.5mm chainline) for rim-brake bikes and a road offset axle (152mm Q-factor, with 46mm chainline), mostly for gravel bike geometry with greater width stays for increased tyre clearances using disc brakes. Once you have the relevant axle for your build, and have your 30mm spindle compatible BB installed in your frame, fitting the Aldhu crankset is simple.
For the one-piece Q-ring double setup, install the silver chain-catcher pin using a flathead screwdriver, and a tiny dot of blue Loctite on the threads, in the threaded hole closest to the OCP indicator line etched onto the chainring. For the round rings double setup, install the pin in the hole on the edge of the ring closest to the small non-threaded hole drilled next to the splines in the centre of the chainring.
Take the spindle and note on the driveside the laser etchings indicating the five OCP positions. Smear a small amount of quality grease around the row of fine splines, and drop onto these splines your spider, or one-piece chainring setup, aligning the OCP indicator line on the spider or rings with your desired OCP position number on the axle.
Now apply a similar amount of grease to the eight BB30 splines, and some onto the thread within the axle. When using the one-piece double Q-ring setup, take your right-hand crank (the one without the preload adjuster on the rear) and position it on the BB30 splines, ensuring the arm is orientated so as to cover the chain-catcher pin you just installed. Using a torque wrench, carefully engage the crank bolt into the axle threads with your 10mm Allen key fitting, and tighten down to 35Nm. When using round rings, position the arm midway between the widest gap of the arms of the X-shape. Covering the chain-catcher pin, using a torque wrench, carefully engage the crank bolt into the axle threads with your 10mm Allen key fitting, and tighten to 35Nm.
PHOTOS: BEN POWELL
What you will need Rotor Aldhu crankset, Loctite 243, Grease, Flathead screwdriver, 10mm allen key, 2mm allen key, soft face hammer, torque wrench, axle spacers
5 Next, using the spacer chart that comes in the axle box, determine the relevant spacers for your frame’s installation, with your chosen length of axle.
9 Apply grease to the axle protruding from the non-driveside of the bike, and slide on the relevant non-driveside spacers. Now grease the BB30 splines of the axle, and the thread within the axle, and install the left-hand crank in the correct orientation to the drive side crank. Tighten the 10mm bolt with your torque wrench, to 35Nm.
Smear a small amount of grease onto the axle behind your spider or chainrings, and then slide onto the axle the relevant drive side spacers.
Now prepare the left-hand crank arm for installation. Use a non-ball ended 2mm Allen key to undo the preload lock ring’s pinch bolt, until it is free – do not remove the bolt.Unscrew the preload lock ring from the arm and apply a little grease to the threads, then screw the lock ring back on to the crank arm gently until it stops.
Now take a soft-faced mallet and lightly but firmly tap the driveside cranks’ central bolt three times, spinning the cranks once after each tap. This will settle the crank into position, and permit the preload adjuster to be set up correctly in the next step.
Now looking from the non-driveside of the bike, turn the preload collar by hand clockwise, to wind it out and away from the back of the arm. This will take up the gap, and apply the preload to the BB bearings. Adjust the lockring to eliminate any lateral play, while causing no binding when the cranks are spun. Once happy, use your 2mm Allen key to tighten the lockring collar’s pinch bolt to 1Nm (this is tight enough, so it is snugly pinched down – that’s all.).
8 Now lightly smear the axle with grease and push the axle into your frame’s bottom bracket from the drive side.
12 If you’re unable to turn the adjuster clockwise to apply preload to the BB, then one or more of the 0.5mm plastic washer spacers will need to be removed from your spacer setup. If the adjuster needs to be unscrewed more than three turns, and there is still lateral play in your BB, then one or more additional 0.5mm plastic washer spacers will need to be added to your spacer setup.
FOOD DECLAN DEEHAN | MARKETING MANAGER & EX-CHEF
POST-BIG RIDE TREAT
PHOTOS: JOBY SESSIONS
SEARED SCALLOPS, SMOKED HADDOCK RISOTTO AND PEA PUREE
• 200G RISOTTO RICE
With the shorter days and lowering temperatures your staple fuel will change to heartier winter fare – as may your treats. Although this is a savoury dish, I would still class it a treat – perhaps for after a big ride on the weekend. If you’re being good and restricting your vices, this should be one you keep.
• 100G NATURAL SMOKED HADDOCK • 100ML DRY WHITE WINE • ½ WHITE ONION • 1-2 STICKS CELERY • ½ LEEK • 1 CLOVE GARLIC • 3-4 SPRIGS LEMON THYME • 1 LEMON • LIGHT VEGETABLE STOCK • 200ML DOUBLE CREAM • PARMESAN TO SERVE • 100G FROZEN PEAS • 5 SCALLOPS • OLIVE OIL • UNSALTED BUTTER
Finely chop your onion, celery, leek and garlic and add to a heavy-based non-stick pan. Sweat the vegetables down until they are soft and starting to take some colour. Add the lemon thyme sprigs, then the smoked haddock. Saute for a further few minutes – the haddock may break up a little but don’t worry, this will only add to the flavour. Next, add the risotto rice and stir well, then follow with the white wine. Let the wine reduce by at least half then begin adding your vegetable stock. Add enough so the rice is just covered, stir to absorb and repeat until the rice becomes tender. When the rice is cooked, with a little bite in the centre, add your cream and reduce the heat. You should have no need to
add further seasoning – as long as your stock is light it will balance well with the smoked haddock removing the need for further salt. Finish with lemon zest. THE PEA PUREE
This couldn’t be a simpler accompaniment for the risotto – but they really make each other. Boil some unsalted water and add your peas. Give it 20 to 30 seconds, drain and blitz. That’s it. THE SCALLOPS
Have your scallops on a plate ready for the pan. Ensure you have patted them down to remove excess water. Add a sprinkle of salt following by a light drizzle of olive oil ensuring this done just before cooking to keep them as succulent as possible. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add your scallops – they should sizzle if it’s hot enough. Give them 2-3 minutes depending on size, turn them over and, if you really want to treat yourself add a knob of butter. This will caramelise, giving your scallops a great nutty flavour and deeper colour. Finish with some juice from the already zested lemon, sit down and enjoy.
TRAIN BENJAMIN SHARP | STAGES POWER EDUCATION EXPERT
INDOOR TRAINING PUTTING IN THE WINTER MILES IN A DIMLY-LIT PAIN CAVE NEED NOT BE THE HELL IT ONCE WAS. MAKING INTELLIGENT USE OF THIS TIME CAN GIVE YOU A SERIOUS HEADSTART COME SPRING HERE IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, WINTER HAS COME. IN BOULDER, COLORADO WE WAKE ON THE MORNING THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN TO THE THIRD SNOWFALL OF THE SEASON. IT’S JUST A DUSTING; IT’S WARM BY THE AFTERNOON, IN TIME FOR STAGES’ ‘TURNTUP TUESDAY’ GROUP RIDE.
But the snow is a harbinger that the indoor training season is just around the corner – and not just in Boulder. With that harsh reality in mind, it’s a good idea to go over some of the benefits of indoor training and how to set yourself up for a quality training season in preparation for achieving your goals come the springtime. The look and feel of indoor training has evolved quite a bit recently. The tools and options available now would have been neither recognisable nor believable to the competitor I was 20 years ago. As a young athlete, I spent many of my winters training in the US Midwest. In frigid temperatures and under leaden skies that hid the sun for weeks on end, I prided myself on my ability to spend my time out in it as opposed to training indoors – more because I was especially stubborn than particularly tough.
EVERY INDOOR RIDE SHOULD HAVE A PURPOSE
Generally speaking, we have fitness goals to accomplish through the training season. Depending on what your perceived strengths and weaknesses are, and your coach’s recommendations, you might be trying to work on a number of facets of cycling. Perhaps you need to work on your sustainable or threshold power. Maybe your VO2 power has suffered recently or increasing your pedal speed at a certain power is a goal. Regardless, with a well-thought-out plan, indoor work can help you address specific training elements. This point is also true for outdoor training, but there can be benefits to riding outdoors that aren’t easily addressed indoors. For example, there is a social component to riding two by two outside on a nice, long endurance ride. For the basement warrior, most indoor training is done in solitude. There is no quicker way to burn out mentally indoors than noodling along at an arbitrary intensity for a random duration. Having a goal duration for an indoor workout is a great place to start. Next, creating a workout with set targets for intervals (durations/intensities) will help time pass, and will keep you engaged in the process, not to mention maximise your potential for improvement.
Riding a turbo trainer while trying to watch a movie on the VCR, in my family’s living room, packed all the allure of counting the blades of grass on a football pitch, while flossing my teeth with an aluminium can and listening to an energetic performance of Rossini by the local kindergarten class on homemade instruments. But with the advent of smart trainers, handheld device apps, and ANT+ and Bluetooth technologies, indoor training has become, dare I say it, palatable. And with limited time thanks to the demands of the ‘real world’, indoor training has become an ever more necessary component of constructing a training plan for summer success.
SOME WORKOUTS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS
When I first got into racing, going on 30 years ago, the period from October to February was commonly referred to as the ‘off season’. But as I gained experience as a racer, and especially as a coach, my mindset and terminology related to this time of year shifted and I now like to think of the winter months as the ‘training season’. I frequently remind the athletes that I coach that it’s this time of year when we make the most gains. Once the fondo, group ride, race season begins in March or April, everyone seems to progress and improve at the same rate. Our weekly training loads during this time tend to look pretty similar, from rider to rider. Riders who have intelligently trained over the winter months and begin the ‘race season’ with the highest level of fitness show themselves to be the most formidable competitors.
Since you’re in the comfort of your pain cave, there are no potholes, no menacing cars, and no lane-hogging trucks to avoid. This freedom from spending mental energy on trying to avoid the perils of being on the road means more energy can be spent honing in on and focusing on posture, positioning on the bike, pedalling skills and so on. I like to include one-legged drills, over gear/low cadence drills, and fast cadence drills as regular parts of my indoor recovery rides. Doing so helps time pass more quickly and, beyond simply doing a recovery ride, gives your workout added purpose and value.
Below are some suggestions towards making this training season your best yet, through the use of an indoor trainer and some of the accompanying tools. INDOOR TRAINING CAN TAKE A LITTLE MORE OUT OF YOU
Riding on an indoor trainer can be hard. Really hard. When training outside, even with concerted effort, it’s not uncommon to spend 10-15% of a ride coasting at zero rpm, and most importantly, at zero watts. That’s wasted time. On a trainer, with few exceptions, there really isn’t any coasting. This means that a one-hour trainer session equates to one hour of pedalling time. So, even though the days are shorter and there is less time being spent outside, the relative quality and efficiency of the workouts can be increased on a trainer. The fact that there are no stop signs, no stop lights, no intersections, no traffic, and no downhills means an hour’s ride indoors ‘feels’ a bit harder than a comparable hour ride outdoors. In a similar vein, it’s important to determine whether your threshold power is different indoors than outdoors. Without getting into the physics of it, it’s worth noting that for most people, power indoors, at the same perceived effort and heart rate as outdoors, might be a bit lower. If you find that your sustainable power is consistently different by more than 3-5%, I recommend you do a threshold test indoors, using the same protocol you use outdoors. You can then adjust your prescribed wattages based on whether you are indoors or outdoors. Over time, and with experience, you may find that your power numbers get closer to being equal and retesting should be considered after a month to six weeks of consistent indoor training.
Referring back to the indoor training my younger self attempted to do… long endurance rides aren’t really appropriate indoors. As a coach, I never like to say ‘never’, but generally speaking, trying to ride for three or four hours at 200 watts is a motivation (not to mention crotch) killer. Leave the long endurance rides for when the weather clears or you want to try out your new thermal jacket that was gifted over the holidays. Short, very specific workouts are ideal for indoor sessions. Please refer to the workouts on the right for some suggestions. THROW IN SOME SKILLS WORK
CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO PERFORMING WELL
Make it fun to ride indoors. Myriad programs and apps exist to help you achieve your best this training season. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of reviews on these products, each of which satisfies a slightly different niche. Some apps will lean more towards entertainment and game play while others will land on the opposite end of the spectrum and serve strictly as training programs. Fortunately, most of them offer trial periods, in many cases free, to test them out and help you decide what will meet your needs. My personal pain cave has a desktop computer connected to two displays (an old computer monitor and a retired TV screen). On one screen, I will display my on-bike metrics through whichever program I’m using (Zwift, TheSufferfest, TrainerRoad, Velo Reality and so on); on the other I will display my diversion/entertainment – Netflix, YouTube, Pandora – for a given session. Since I’m fortunate to have a space dedicated to training indoors, I’m able to take advantage of the spare equipment I had kicking around. If, however, you prefer simplicity or are starved for space, a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone can run any of the previously mentioned apps and programs. The next most important tool in my training area is a big box fan in a window. Being able to circulate cool air into the training room is critical. It’s easy to overheat when stationary – and overheating will lead to sub-par performances. I like to train with the lights low, and I use wireless Bluetooth headphones so as not to disturb others in the house and to drown out the drone of my trainer while I pedal. With a little experimentation, I’m confident you will find the right mix of programs and environment that will help you develop the fitness necessary for success once the sun is higher in the sky.
When attempting an interval session, successfully completing each one means averaging a power within the prescribed zone. When following structured training on a trainer, your adjusted or normalised power will mostly fall in line with your average power. An exception would be replicating an outdoor session, such as by doing a race or group ride on Zwift. In that scenario, I would expect adjusted and average power to decouple, as the variability of power will increase due to the demands of riding in a virtual peloton. For these workouts, stay focused on your average power for each timespan and aim to train within the prescribed zone.
KITCHEN SINK (1H15M TOTAL)
This is my go-to when I’m not sure what I want, but I know I want something hard. It’s shortish and not so sweet but is engaging with many intensity changes. • 10 minutes warm-up easy spinning, recovery/zone 1 with a couple of minutes at endurance (zone 2) • 10 minutes tempo (zone 3, 80-90 rpm) • 5 minutes recovery (zone 1) • 10 minutes tempo (zone 3, 80-90 rpm) but include a 10-second ‘sprint’ (non-maximal effort) at the end of each minute. • 5 minutes recovery (zone 1) • 3x5 reps of 30 seconds ‘on’ (VO2 zone 5) and 30 seconds ‘off’ at tempo (zone 3) with 5 minutes of recovery (zone 1) between each rep • 5-10 minutes of recovery (Zone 1) to finish the workout MICRO INTERVALS FOLLOWED BY TEMPO SPRINT (1H TOTAL)
As the weather starts clearing, I begin incorporating this workout ahead of some competitive weekend group rides. The taxing accelerations mimic the micro-surges that occur in a rolling peloton. The tempo at the end is good for building endurance when slightly fatigued, and everyone likes a sprint to finish. • 10 minutes warm-up easy spinning, recovery (zone 1) with a couple of minutes of endurance/zone 2 • 30 minutes repeating 15 seconds at VO2 max power (zone 5) followed by 45 seconds of tempo (zone 3). • 5 minutes recovery (zone 1) • 10 minutes tempo (zone 3) at 90-100 rpm. At the end of the 10 minutes, sprint all out, 100% for 20 seconds • Take 5-10 minutes of recovery (zone 1) to finish the workout
THRESHOLD STEP-UPS (40M TOTAL)
These are a variation of the tried and true threshold interval. Each interval has three steps. Starting with tempo (zone 3) for three minutes, you progress into the bottom of threshold (zone 4) for four minutes and finish with three minutes at the top of threshold (zone 4). Repeat this three times with three minutes of recovery (zone 1) between each 10-minute block. • 10 minutes warm-up easy spinning, recovery/zone 1 with a couple of minutes of endurance (zone 2) • 3 minutes tempo (zone 3) 80-90rpm • 4 minutes low threshold (bottom of zone 4) 90-100 rpm • 3 minutes high threshold (top of zone 4) 100+ rpm • 3 minutes recovery (zone 1) • Repeat three times total • Take 5-10 minutes recovery (zone 1) to finish the workout ONE-LEGGED DRILLS/OVER GEAR/FAST CADENCE (57M TOTAL)
This is a great recovery ride workout, which focuses on building pedalling technique and strength. • 10 minutes warm-up easy spinning, recovery/zone 1 with a couple of minutes of endurance/zone 2 • Four repetitions of 30 seconds (for each leg) of pedalling with one leg. Unclip the unused leg and let it dangle, out of the way of your crankarm and pedal. Switch legs every 30 seconds to make each block of one-legged drills 4 minutes. Wattage is irrelevant; just aim for a cadence of 80-100 rpm • 2 minutes of recovery (zone 1). • 4x30 second (each leg) one-legged drills • 2 minutes recovery (zone 1). • 4 x 30 second (each leg) one-legged drills • 2 minutes recovery (zone 1) • 2 minutes of over gear – wattage should be below zone 4 and cadence should be 50-60 rpm. • 2 minutes of fast cadence – wattage should be below zone 4 and cadence target is 100+ rpm. • 2 minutes of over gear • 4 minutes recovery (zone 1) • 3 minutes fast cadence • 3 minutes over gear • 3 minutes fast cadence • Take 5-10 minutes of recovery (zone 1) to finish the workout.
TRAIN BEN PLENGE | MTB STRENGTH FACTORY
BODYWEIGHT LEG STRENGTH IT’S NOT JUST SPRINTERS WHO SHOULD BE ACTIVELY STRENGTHENING THEIR LEGS – NO MATTER YOUR DISCIPLINE, YOU’LL FEEL THE BENEFITS OF THESE
Below are a series of bodyweight moves that will help to develop serious leg strength without the need for any additional kit. By doing singleleg work we promote left/right symmetry, which can help in injury prevention as well as improving performance.
IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT STRONG LEGS ARE CRITICAL FOR ALL CYCLE SPORTS, ENABLING YOU TO GENERATE FORCE THROUGH THE PEDALS AND HOLD YOUR BODY IN A STANDING RIDING POSITION.
Strength training is no longer just for cyclists involved in the more explosive disciplines such as track sprinting and downhill mountain biking. It is now widely accepted that it can also have a positive effect on the performance of endurance athletes, including road racers and marathon mountain bikers.
For each exercise you should aim for two to four sets of 10 to 15 reps on each leg. Always focus on proper form – and don’t forget to do the core training exercises we covered in Incycle issue 25! Finally, make sure you always warm up properly and build up gradually.
1• Start by moving your bum backwards, keeping 2 • Push your heel into the floor and squeeze your STEP UP
the weight in your heel • Try to lower for three seconds • Focus on controlling your knee so it stays over the foot
bum upwards, keeping the stomach tight • Pause at the top and slowly lower • If it is too easy then elevate the feet and/or try it single-leg
3 4 • As you move to the side, put your bum back to • This doubles up as flexibility work by starting SIDE LUNGE
keep weight through your hips • Head and chest up • Feel a gentle stretch in your groin
in a stretch each rep • Raise as high as you can • Pause and slowly lower back into a stretch
5 6 • With your body in a straight line, resting on the • Keep your hips level and back flat. Push hips SIDE PLANK LEG RAISE
SINGLE LEG RDL
back, keeping your standing leg mostly straight • Feel the tension in the hamstring, pause and then slowly return to standing • Try and stay on one leg for the whole set without losing balance!
PHOTOS: GEORGE ACTON
lower knee, lift your upper leg up and back • You should feel this exercise in the hips and side of the bum • Pause at the top and lower slowly
THE 3T STRADA IS CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT ROAD BIKES. 3T CO-OWNER AND HEAD OF DESIGN GERARD VROOMEN TALKS US THROUGH HIS LATEST MASTERPIECE
WORDS TOM BALLARD PICTURES JOBY SESSIONS
AVING GARNERED A DESERVED REPUTATION FOR DESIGN INGENUITY AND AERODYNAMICS EXPERTISE DURING HIS TIME AT CERVELO, GERARD VROOMEN’S MOVE TO BECOME CO-OWNER OF 3T IN 2015 SENT AN ALMOST PALPABLE FRISSON OF EXCITEMENT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD OF CYCLING TECH ENTHUSIASTS.
HIS FIRST BIKE PROJECT WITH THE ITALIAN COMPANY, THE EXPLORO, REDEFINED THE PERFORMANCE POTENTIAL OF GRAVEL BIKES AND HIS NEWEST DESIGN, THE STRADA, DOES THE SAME FOR THE ROAD BIKE; CHALLENGING THE FORM’S CONVENTIONS WITH THE PROMISE OF GREATER SPEED, COMFORT AND SIMPLICITY. IT’S A DESIGN THAT REFLECTS 3T’S ETHOS SINCE THE BRAND’S CONCEPTION: EXPLORING THE LIMITS OF CYCLING PERFORMANCE THROUGH INNOVATION.
“Since 3T started in 1961, they’ve been responsible for a lot of innovation in the bike industry,” says Vroomen. “One of the attractions for me with 3T was that it was really one of the original brands, but unlike some others, 3T has always been innovating and trying to do things that others aren’t. It’s this ethos of never being satisfied with the status quo and always trying to push the products, ourselves and the sport of cycling along that’s at 3T’s core.
“The industry itself changes quite rapidly as well, so we’re not just reinventing products, but also the company, and we’re now into the fourth generation. We have to stay true to the brand, but the trueness of 3T is that it changes all the time. For me, that’s what makes it interesting. The brand started with handlebars, but they were also the first to focus on speed and fun, so enjoyment as well as performance. “The Exploro is a good example of our approach. We saw a direction that we thought should be an important part of the bike industry. Nobody was going there, so, we thought, ‘OK then, we’ll make it.’ Of course, it was the first time 3T made a frame, but there was also a first time when 3T made saddles: Just because they had a good idea for a saddle, they made it and it was the world’s lightest saddle.” With this sort of gung-ho pioneerism applied to the gravel bike sector and resulting in spectacular positive feedback from riders and press alike, the logical stablemate for the do-it-all off-roader was a do-it-all road bike.
ENTER THE STRADA
“The Strada certainly comes from the same thought process. For probably 10 years now, I’ve been thinking about 1x drivetrains for road bikes, but it never really made any sense. I have this really old spreadsheet and it shows, ‘How do you do 1x with eight cogs?’ The gap was just too big. “Eleven-speed is really where it started to make sense. And 12-speed is where it’s perfect for everybody, so I felt this was really a good time to do it. The decision was also down to a little bit of a disappointment with where the industry was going. If you look at all the new product introductions on the road side, all the press releases are more or less interchangeable. “The big news is always that it’s 13% stiffer in the bottom bracket and 11% stiffer in the head tube. Mostly, it now comes with a D-shaped seat tube as the main innovation, and it comes in a rim and a disc-brake version, because, apparently, the industry can’t figure out which one is the best.
“ I KNOW, AS WELL AS ANYBODY IN THIS INDUSTRY, THAT IT’S HARD TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW ALL THE TIME, BUT I JUST FEEL THAT, WITH A LOT OF THESE THINGS, IT’S NOT EVEN WHAT THE CUSTOMER IS ASKING FOR. I CAN’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME THAT A CUSTOMER TOLD ME THAT THEIR BOTTOM BRACKET WASN’T STIFF ENOUGH ”
“ THE ONE THING THAT NEVER HAS REALLY BEEN ATTACKED IN AN AERO ROAD BIKE IS THE DRIVETRAIN. I WOULD ABSOLUTELY INCLUDE MYSELF IN THAT; FOR 20 YEARS WE HAVEN’T REALLY LOOKED AT IT BECAUSE IT JUST WASN’T POSSIBLE TO DO MUCH ABOUT IT ”
“To me, it’s sad that’s all there is. I know, as well as anybody in this industry, that it’s hard to come up with something new all the time, but I just feel that, with a lot of these things, it’s not even what the customer is asking for. I can’t remember the last time that a customer told me that their bottom bracket wasn’t stiff enough. I mean, they’re 10 times stiffer than what Merckx rode. “These are just new solutions to problems that simply don’t exist anymore. Nowadays, any decent road bike for $1,000 is a good bike that anybody can ride around, get home safely and have a good time on. So, we’ve got to look somewhere else.” THIS SEARCH FOR DIFFERENCE WAS WHERE THE STRADA’S JOURNEY TO THE MARKET BEGAN; CHALLENGING THE CONSERVATIVISM OF THE INDUSTRY IN A BID FOR GENUINE INNOVATION AND IMPROVING THE RIDER EXPERIENCE.
“We’re looking at a dozen areas to see, ‘OK, where do we think the major trends are? What’s really going to change?’ The drivetrain, the disc brake and, basically, optimisation in general… It’s just really making a decision in a certain direction and committing to that. The Exploro is a very generalist bike; you can ride it anywhere, from a road race to a serious off-road with the right tyres on. By its nature, a road bike is already a very specific bike, so if you’re going to make a road bike, then make it totally specific.” For Vroomen, this specificity combines aerodynamics unhampered by front derailleur placement; the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain and fast-rolling, comfortable tyres, the latter of which
provided the starting point for the Strada’s design, with everything else stemming from that decision. WIDE TYRES
“Wide tyres are something I’ve been pushing for a long time. Back at Cervélo, we were probably the first to spec the 25mm tyre as standard on all of our bikes. Dealers hated it. We had some who sent back the bikes saying, ‘We can’t sell them with these mountain bike tyres on.’ That’s what they called 25mm tyres. It was incredible. But if consumers took those bikes on test rides, they loved them because you can feel the difference of a wider tyre; remember that back then many were still on 21mm. “I think, today, most people understand. About half the vertical compliance of the bike is in that tyre. It makes you think about where to put comfort: a rubber thing with air in, or some carbon triangles? “A lot of people think comfort is just important for amateur riders, but it’s also important for people who are looking at pure performance. Especially if you go on longer rides or, say, a three-week stage race in France, a big factor in fatigue is this highfrequency vibration buzz that you get even from smooth roads. So, if you can cut down on that, it means better recovery, day after day after day. That really makes a difference in the third week. “Some people also start to realise that wider tyres have a lower rolling resistance, although there’s certainly a big group who believe narrow is better. I think that misunderstanding comes more from the fact that, when you compare a mountain bike tyre and a road tyre, the road tyre rolls lighter. But if you have the same casing and tread pattern, then a wider tyre has the lower rolling resistance.
“Then there’s just this third part, which is, ‘Aren’t they less aero?’ There are some tests that are done with different tyre sizes and the bigger tyre always comes out worst, but, of course, those tyres are always tested with a bike that’s been designed for a narrow tyre. You’re not proving the wider tyre is bad; you’re just proving this combination wasn’t designed that way. So, it’s not a shocking result. “THE STRADA’S TYRE CLEARANCE IS 28MM AND THE REST OF THE BIKE IS DESIGNED AROUND THAT SPECIFICALLY – IT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT, AERODYNAMICALLY. ONE POINT A LOT OF PEOPLE ASK IS, ‘DO THOSE TYRE CLEARANCES WORK WELL? ARE THEY SAFE?’ BASICALLY, THESE TYRE CLEARANCES ARE THE SAME AS THEY’VE BEEN ON TIME TRIAL BIKES FOR 15 YEARS, SO IT’S NO DIFFERENT FROM THAT.” AERODYNAMICS
“The one thing that never has really been attacked in an aero road bike is the drivetrain. I would absolutely include myself in that; for 20 years we haven’t really looked at it because it just wasn’t possible to do much about it. But especially around the bottom bracket, you have your derailleur hanger, your derailleur, your inner ring, your outer ring, your crank arms and your legs flying through. You have a water bottle, maybe two. So, in the end, there’s not much space for the air to flow through there because it all happens at the same point. “If you’re able to eliminate that front derailleur and inner ring, that creates a lot more space for the air to flow through – really close to the wheel and frame – aerodynamically, it’s a no-brainer. Also, if you know that this frame is never going to
“ IN THE END IT YOU DON’T NEED A BIKE FOR COMFORT AND A BIKE FOR SPEED – YOU CAN HAVE THE SAME BIKE AND SETUP FOR EVERYTHING ”
have a front derailleur hanger, you can optimise that whole seat tube to shield the rear wheel. You don’t need to widen it or reinforce it in any way; you can just choose to put in whatever shape you want aerodynamically. “THE APPROACH TOWARDS THE STRADA’S AERODYNAMICS WAS THE SAME AS WE USED FOR THE EXPLORO. WE TRIED TO DESIGN FOR THE REAL WORLD WITH EXPLORO, WHERE WE DID THE TESTING AT 20MPH. WITH STRADA, WE TESTED AT BOTH 20MPH AND 30MPH BECAUSE WE REALISED THAT WE WOULD ACCOMMODATE A LARGER RANGE OF RIDER LEVELS WITH THIS FRAME.” 1X
While removal of the front derailleur equates to a drag saving of about 25g, the question on many riders’ lips when the Strada launched was whether this is reason enough to remove the beloved front derailleur. The Marmite effect was quickly in full flow as trendsetters and traditionalists fought a predictable war of words on forums and cycling tech news comment sections. “People love it or hate it, which, to me, is better than that everybody just says it’s so-so. I’d rather that even 80% of the market hate it, 20% really love it and I have that 20% to myself than having to fight for the 80% with 100 other brands. I think, so far, it’s split down the middle, which is a bit better than I hoped for. “We used to have 2x6 gears. It really meant eight unique gears and the other four were overlapping. That was good enough 40 years ago to do everything with. Then, we got 2x7, which was clearly better, and 2x8 was even better. Now, do you remember what your first 2x11 bike was? Most can’t because it wasn’t a momentous occasion. All of a sudden, cycling didn’t become 10% more fun when we went from 2x10 to 2x11. Sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more. “What this whole trend to meaningless 2x drivetrains means is that cassettes start to look pretty good on 1x. When we finally had the Strada and started extensive testing – including the 100 media that rode it at press launches in the US and in
Europe at the end of June – I was actually surprised that most people were OK with the 11-36. “That said, I think smaller steps are a plus for everybody. Therefore, we’ve done our own cassette. It’s not because we wanted to become a cassette company; it’s the same reason that 3T has innovated over the years – because we had some ideas and nobody else was doing it.” In fact, 3T has produced two 9-32t cassettes. The Bailout features tightly packed small-cog spacing for a smooth range when pushing hard on rolling terrain and bigger jumps when the road rears upwards. The Overdrive features more evenlyspaced cogs, making it ideal for big days in the mountains. Putting those into context, pairing either cassette with a 40t ring would offer a similar range to a 50/36 crank with an 11-29t cassette. “The total range is 355%, almost 30 percentage points bigger than the 11-36. So, really, you have enough range to ride everywhere unless you go really crazy. The interesting part about this range is that it’s not really that dependent on cycling ability. It’s being aware of where you need that range; Chris Froome can have a front ring 20% bigger than mine, but we can both ride with that same cassette. “OF COURSE, ANOTHER ADVANTAGE TO 1X IS THAT IT’S VERY EASY TO ADJUST A GEAR RANGE JUST BY CHANGING YOUR FRONT CHAINRING. IF YOU’RE VACATIONING IN THE ALPS AND DOING FIVE CLIMBS A DAY, YOU JUST CHANGE YOUR FRONT RING TO SOMETHING SMALLER. MAYBE YOU LOSE THE TOP END, BUT THE TOP USUALLY DOESN’T MATTER IN THAT SITUATION.
“Sometimes, people say, ‘Maybe I don’t climb as fast as Chris Froome, but I can descend the same as him. I’m heavier even.’ Even if you had the skills and the closed roads – which you probably don’t – that top-end gear doesn’t make the difference. If your terminal velocity is 80kph, it doesn’t matter if you spin out at 50 or 60kph; it just means that you get to that 80kph two seconds later, but you’re going to end up at the same speed per definition.”
While it might take a while for some riders to see the practicality and benefits of 1x, equipping the Strada with disc brakes hasn’t proved divisive. “It’s funny that we hardly get any comments about the disc brake. There is no doubt that this is where the market’s going. The transition only goes one way. As is often the case with the bike industry, whether it’s better doesn’t even matter anymore. “When you decide that it’s disc-brake only, you can attack the design differently. The most obvious way is the fork crown; if you don’t have to stick a brake there, it means less frontal area. It also really pulls the front wheel towards the down tube if that crown is smaller, so the integration of your front wheel with your down tube becomes much easier. That works very well for stiffness and strength too. The crown shape is structurally still there the way you would normally have it, it’s just ‘sucked into’ the downtube and hidden from the airflow.” NO COMPROMISES
“When you think about the Strada as a whole, it’s really a no-compromise bike. There’s no rimbrake version coming out next month; there’s no compromise in weights and aerodynamics. “You have this 1x aero drivetrain and this full aero frame with wide tyres all the time that cut down on high-frequency vibration, so you’re also fast on the roads that are poor, as well as disc brakes so you can stop in any conditions. At the same time, all you need to look at is that front chainring to adjust to the terrain if you want to do something extreme. “IN THE END IT MEANS YOU DON’T NEED A BIKE FOR COMFORT AND A BIKE FOR SPEED; YOU CAN HAVE THE SAME BIKE AND SETUP FOR EVERYTHING, WHETHER YOU’RE GOING ON THE COBBLES OR JUST THE AVERAGE UK ROAD. I THINK THE STRADA DOES A GOOD JOB OF ACHIEVING THAT AND, AT THE SAME TIME, IT’S A BIKE THAT STAYS TRUE TO THE 3T ETHOS… TO MAKE THE BEST, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BICYCLE PARTS, AND TO MAKE WHAT OTHERS DO NOT.”
C H A R L I E H AT T O N
C H A R L I E H AT T O N W E LCO M E TO T H E B I G T I M E WORDS RIC MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOS IAN LEAN
INTENSE RACING UK’S CHARLIE HATTON STAMPED HIS NAME ON 2017 WITH ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE ELITE-LEVEL DEBUT SEASONS OF THIS CENTURY. SO HOW WAS IT FOR HIM? Charlie Hatton’s is a name that many will now know – but even a few short months ago, that wasn’t the case. Back at the opening UCI World Cup of the year in Lourdes, France, he seemed surprised, shocked even, by his own exploits.
By way of an example, consider the seemingly infinitely talented Canadian dominator of 2017‘s Junior men’s ranks, Finn Iles. His winning time at the final UCI World Cup of the year was eight seconds off what would have been needed to take victory among the elites. Sink or swim – it’s very much up to the rider in question.
Making the move into Elite after a successful Junior career that had seen him score several top-10s on the world stage, his was a moniker perhaps best known to followers of the UK domestic race scene.
But if you’re the sort of person who is easily perturbed by challenges or adverse odds, the chances are that professional downhill racing isn’t the sport for you. Charlie saw things quite simply – his only option was to ride his bike as quickly as possible, and that’s exactly what he set about doing.
The 19 year-old from the Forest of Dean has been a stalwart of the British Downhill Series (BDS) for years and his results have been steadily building. Last season he rode for the Bristol-based Wide Open Magazine team, which has a handy knack for nurturing young talent. For the 2017 season he signed with Intense Racing UK and made the jump to the next level.
“What a season – easily my best one to date,” he says, smiling. “I was pretty nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. After the first BDS race where I finished in fifth place I was excited about the rest of the year. It really gave me a massive confidence boost and got the ball rolling.”
The step up to racing with the big boys is anything but straightforward – the speeds are faster, the times tighter and the demands placed on both body and machine intensify greatly.
But it’s the big stage, against the fastest in the world, where riders are truly blooded – and for that he
JOE BREEDEN S E E K A N D D E S T R OY WORDS RIC MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOS IAN LEAN
THE 2017 SEASON WAS A BREAKTHROUGH ONE FOR JUNIOR DOWNHILL RACER, JOE BREEDEN – BUT RIGHT AT ITS END, IT MANAGED TO BREAK PART OF HIM Joe Breeden is, when we meet, experiencing the numbing hangover of dissipating painkillers mixed with the re-arrival of the pain, albeit reduced, which they had been suppressing. One of the most impressive UCI World Cup campaigns from a British youngster the sport of DH has seen for years was rounded off in crushing fashion.
“Unfortunately, it resulted in me being in hospital with a broken kneecap and a shattered heel,” Joe continues. “Both are going to require quite serious surgery. Its always when you’re just going out for a ‘little ride’, isn’t it?! I’m certainly going to learn from this one!” The crash, in all it’s brutality, is available to view, like most things these days, on Instagram (@joe_breeden17).
Date after date of national- and international-level racing produced seemingly infinite possibilities to hurt himself, yet he dodged them all. It seems incongruous then that the crash that sees him holed up in Gloucestershire’s Royal Hospital happened doing something even us mere mortals enjoy – messing about down the woods. Having manualled into a jump on the back wheel of his enduro bike he pulled up only to get bucked awkwardly on landing and was thrown to the ground in a crumpled heap.
Joe is a rider who operates on what seems to be a boundless natural talent fuelled by a passion for being on two wheels. The 17-year-old hails proudly from “the middle of nowhere” in North Wales and in his short career has seldom stopped progressing. The fresh wounds may yet prove to be the first real test of his maturing mettle. Newly signed to Saddleback’s Intense Racing UK team for 2017, Joe arrived with some pedigree having already won titles at national level. But downhill racing is a sport that’s continually pushing the envelope of speed and, just as the pace of Elite-level competition seems to increase year on year, so too does that of the Junior category. It’s
“I was at the Forest of Dean for a team day, sorting plans for the 2018 season,” says Joe. “After our meetings we went for a little mess about and I ended up having one of the biggest crashes of my life while trying to take off and land in a manual.” Needless to say, regret is etched all over his face.
C H A R L I E H AT T O N
“I WAS JUST SO STOKED TO BE SELECTED FOR THE GB WORLD CHAMPS SQUAD. IT ALMOST DIDN’T SEEM REAL AS IT HADN’T EVEN BEEN ONE OF MY GOALS AT THE START OF THE YEAR” would have to wait for Lourdes. “I was just hoping to qualify,” he shrugs. “Qualifying came and I ended up 27th, which really took me (and a few others) by surprise. I ended up finishing 17th at my first Elite World Cup, which exceeded my goals massively and opened my eyes to the fact that if everything goes to plan then the results will come.”
BEST FOR LAST
As far as the UCI World Cup campaign was concerned, Charlie would save the best to last and rounded things out by piloting his Intense M16 to an 11th-place finish on the famously vicious Val di Sole track in Italy. Over the years it’s seen the likes of Sam Hill paint their names across it – and into the history books. Any big result at a UCI World Cup is impressive but somehow, tracks like the one found in Trentino matter on a different level.
Lourdes was a serious test, for everyone involved. The heavens opened during the Elite men’s race and strong winds threatened to dismantle the pit area long before the racing had finished. But it would take more than a little precipitation to slow Charlie down.
“I think my best performance was at Val di Sole,” Charlie acknowledges. “I was only a second off scoring a top-10, which I was super happy about. By contrast, my worst performance was at the Swiss round in Lenzerheide. I was 14th at the final split and then I lost all concentration and made a stupid mistake literally 10 seconds from the finish line.” Ending the race in 66th, Charlie says, was tough to swallow. “It put me back to 21st overall, meaning I wasn’t a protected rider any more when it came to qualifying at the following round.”
Everything “just came together”, he says – from the bike to the mechanic, the whole setup just worked. “Those first two races were a big factor to the rest of the year panning out as it did. They created a snowball effect and I kept building from them throughout the year.” The weather-affected French race was a crapshoot and was won by Frenchman, Alexandre Fayolle. Charlie’s result would have been easy to shrug off as a fluke or a one-off but, for the lad from the Forest it was just a start.
Despite that slip-up, Hatton’s season-long continuity and raw speed were rewarded with a coveted spot on the Great British team for the UCI World Championships in Cairns, Australia. For
“AFTER CONSISTENTLY PLACING IN FIFTH AND THEN SIXTH PLACE AT THE FIRST FOUR ROUNDS OF THE UCI WORLD CUP, I ACTUALLY STARTED TO BECOME VERY FRUSTRATED” a veritable shark pool of young talents all greedily eyeing the limited places on UCI trade teams. Joe, fortunately for him, was among the hungriest sharks in the aforementioned pool and started very much as he meant to go on.
which was just amazing – the highlight of the 2017 season for me for sure. It was by far my best season to date.” FAIRYTALE YEAR
It’s a fairytale first year by any racer’s standards. Even more so when you look into the results a bit deeper and factor in the names he was up against – the eventual world champ, Matt Walker and the dominant Canadian Finn Iles to name but a couple of them.
“I won the opening round of the British Downhill Series convincingly and felt confident going into the first World Cup in France,” he recalls. Most young riders would be more than happy with that comfortable top-10 on the world stage, but Breeden knew there was more to give.
A medal at any World Champs is worth far more than its weight in gold, silver or bronze, however. The 2017 edition of the Championships proved to be an interesting one thanks to a combination of track and surroundings. Held on a evolved version of the famous hill which played host to the 1996 running of the Worlds, Cairns is about as far from North Wales as it’s both physically and metaphorically possible to get.
“Unfortunately though for the first few World Cups I was holding back too much, riding tight and without much confidence,” he admits – remarkably given the results he garnered. “After consistently placing fifth and then sixth at the first four rounds of the UCI World Cup, I actually started to become very frustrated,” Joe goes on. “I finally managed to break through with a second-place finish at the fifth round in Switzerland. From there on my season just got better and better and I got another podium at the UCI World Cup in Canada followed by a silver medal at the World Championships in Australia,
Located in the tropics, the humidity can at times be stifling, the track is lined with flora and fauna intent on stinging, gouging and/or biting and to top it all off there’s a huge, slightly uphill pedal at the end of it. It’s a test, to say the least.
C H A R L I E H AT T O N
“IT WAS PRETTY CRAZY BEING A TOP-20 RIDER – IT TOOK THE WEIGHT OFF MY SHOULDERS MASSIVELY, AS QUALIFYING WASN’T A PROBLEM ALL OF A SUDDEN BECAUSE I WAS PROTECTED IF ANYTHING WENT WRONG. I THINK THAT HELPED ME RELAX, AND ALLOWED ME TO RIDE WITH NO PRESSURE – MAYBE THAT’S WHY I GOT THE RESULTS I DID”
“I WAS ALL OUT FOR THE WIN AT CAIRNS – FULLY FOCUSED AND FULLY COMMITTED. I GAVE MY RACE RUN ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I HAD BUT UNFORTUNATELY ENDED UP MAKING SOME PRETTY BIG MISTAKES... I WAS HAPPY WITH MY SILVER MEDAL BECAUSE I KNEW THAT I CERTAINLY GAVE IT MY ALL, AND I LEARNED A LOT TOO”
C H A R L I E H AT T O N
In the high-stakes world of professional downhill racing, reputations are built from session to session, from race to race and from season to season. Hatton is aware that learning from each step along the way is an essential part of his trade. “A big lesson for me this year was to remain fully concentrated right up until you cross the finish line!” he laughs, remembering Lenzerheide. “I found out the hard way!”
years, a place on the national team has been one of the biggest accolades open to British DH racers and even a cursory glance at the list of names who didn’t make it on to it in 2017 will give some clue as to the form Charlie was perceived to be in. “I was so stoked to be selected for the GB squad,” he beams. “It almost didn’t seem real as it hadn’t even been one of my goals at the start of the year.” Luckily, he had been to Australia before and had ridden the track at the World Cup the year before. “It’s not one of my favourites, as it’s pretty flat in places with only a few technical sections,” Charlie says. “There’s definitely a different vibe to World Champs [with] everyone coming together in their national teams. But the GB team did a great job of organising everything. Everything was spot-on.”
Another lesson learned, Charlie adds – perhaps surprisingly – is to take your time. “It seems to me racing consistently is all about being smooth and never pushing too far out of your comfort zone – minimum mistakes and smooth is a lot faster than lots of mistakes but flat out.”
For many outsiders, away from the results, the most impressive thing about how Hatton handled himself in 2017 was the way he fitted into the top 20 riders in the world. Lourdes was a washout but he wasn’t fazed – from there he just seemed to build.
Charlie Hatton is by no means yet a superstar of one of the riskiest games in professional cycling, but he’s certainly on his way. There are brasher, more flamboyant riders out there but ultimately results speak louder than anything else. Reading the list of names currently ranked lower in the world than Charlie is testament to that.
“It was pretty crazy being a top-20 protected rider,” Charlie grins. “It took the weight off my shoulders massively, as qualifying wasn’t a problem all of a sudden because I was protected if anything went wrong. I think that really helped me to relax, and allowed me to ride with no pressure – and maybe that’s why I got the results I did.”
What is perhaps most encouraging about his progress is that it’s not born from an allencompassing natural talent. Instead, it’s grounded in work, hard graft and a race brain that seems to see the finished puzzle as it drops each piece into place. His future is bright, but only Charlie knows just how bright it can truly become.
MAKING THE GRADE
THERE ARE BRASHER, MORE FLAMBOYANT RIDERS OUT THERE BUT ULTIMATELY RESULTS SPEAK LOUDER THAN ANYTHING ELSE. READING THE LIST OF NAMES CURRENTLY RANKED LOWER IN THE WORLD THAN CHARLIE IS TESTAMENT TO THAT
bars or missed pedal strokes may be noticeable only to the racers, but knowing there was further time to be had and not to be hung up on it denotes a level head a vital part of the DH racer’s toolkit.
“When I got the call from British Cycling revealing that I had been selected to go and represent Great Britain I was just so stoked!” Joe smiles. “It was a dream opportunity. I had been to Cairns the year before so I was already familiar with the track and the surroundings, which was of great help to my confidence. It was amazing to travel with the national team too. We got treated like royalty at the London airport on the way out and the whole crew were so supportive and friendly – it was just a great atmosphere to be in. I really can’t thank the national team enough for all the hard work they put into that trip. They made it all possible.”
That’s not to talk down Joe’s hunger though. “My worst performance of the year came probably at the UCI World Cup round in Andorra,” he says flatly. It’s an answer that tells you a lot about Joe – he finished sixth, 16 seconds back of the winner. Iles, the victor that day, remains a truly phenomenal talent, riding for one of the biggest factory teams in the business, who many are touting as being a dominant force in years to come. But pre-season, Breeden had professed a love for the steep and technical terrain perhaps best represented by the almost vertical slopes of the Pyrenean principality. A decent result, therefore, has been filed under ‘opportunity missed’ in the Breeden mindscape.
Worlds is a big race, like no other. Some riders thrive in the ‘winner takes all’ environment while others flounder. Dealing with that one-race pressure is paramount, and is a trait which has marked out some of the sport’s true greats. “At first, I was gutted not to take my personal mechanic out there, but we compromised well,” Joe explains. “I was all out for the win that weekend, fully focused and committed. I gave my race run absolutely everything I had but unfortunately ended up making some pretty big mistakes... I was happy with my silver medal because I knew that I certainly gave it my all and I learned a lot from it too.”
Mountain bike racing across all its disciplines though is about learning; being able to look back objectively and take something from each race. Over time these lessons build and mature into a mastery of your surroundings and a coolness under the pressure of the start hut beeps. With that in mind, what has Joe learned from his stellar 2017? “To never give up and always give it your all,” he says plainly. “Also, to never take a ‘little ride’ for granted!” he adds, laughing. Speedy recovery, Joe!
There are of course mistakes in even the most seemingly perfect race runs. Invisible tugs of the
MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING IS ABOUT LEARNING; BEING ABLE TO LOOK BACK OBJECTIVELY AND TAKE SOMETHING FROM EACH RACE. OVER TIME THESE LESSONS BUILD AND MATURE INTO A MASTERY OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND A COOLNESS UNDER PRESSURE
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PAIN AND GAIN JAMES CUNNAMA
R E L I V I N G T H E O P P R E S S I V E H E AT, E X Q U I S I T E A G O N Y A N D S TA R T L I N G B E AU T Y O F T H E 2 0 1 7 I R O N M A N WO R L D C H A M P I O N S H I P S O N H A WA I I ’ S B I G I S L A N D WORDS TOM BALLARD PICS FINISHERPIX
“I only found out about Ironman in 2004,” recalls ENVE-sponsored South African pro-triathlete James Cunnama. “I hadn’t been dreaming of it since I was five or anything, but by my first Kona in 2009, I had literally watched every re-run, every video I could get hold of – I’d read the books and studied it.” Every October, the world’s best long-distance triathletes line up for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s beautiful Big Island. It’s hard not to be beguiled by the volcanic vistas, palm trees and turquoise surf, but each athlete faces a test in sharp contrast to the natural surroundings: 226km of physical hardship, searing sun and a constant battle with inner demons. When the cannon fires at 6:35am, the battle begins with a chaotic 3.8km sea swim as the sun crests the ocean horizon. One hundred and eighty kilometres of intense biking follows, the heat building to melt the tarmac as athletes string out along the desolate Queen Ka’ahumanu highway, raging crosswinds threatening to throw them into the barren, black lava fields that line the course. Each pedal stroke only takes each competitor closer to a full 42.2km marathon, which takes place on the same roads, the heat reaching its blistering zenith as this race of attrition is decided for another year.
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Despite being “very aware” of the history and the race’s iconic status, James admits he went there under-prepared first time around. “Basically, I just got my ass kicked by the race from beginning to end! It’s a brutally hard race and it doesn’t take prisoners.” The pregnancy of James’s wife, fellow pro and fourth-place Kona finisher Jodie, meant he returned to Kona in 2017 without his usual support crew. But having been reunited with former coach, Brett Sutton, who helped him to his career-best fourth place finish in 2013, he arrived with a superb run of form under his belt. PRESSURE-COOKER HEAT
Consistency in Kona is perhaps more difficult to achieve than at any other race on the global calendar, yet there’s one thing that you can always count on: the oppressive heat when stepping off the plane. “It seems like they super air condition the planes when you’re flying into Kona, so that when you get off, you really get smacked in the face by it,” James says. “It’s all a bit of a shock, but these days it’s more about putting on a vest and aboard shorts and enjoying it rather than a sense of, ‘Oh my god, I have to run in this in a few days!’” But while the heat of the island is a huge element to contend with, it pales when compared with the hype that surrounds the sport’s pinnacle event. “Kona is a pressure cooker; you’re very aware how big a deal it is,” James goes on. “I try and treat it as any other race, but it’s difficult not to look at all the other guys running down [Kona’s famous coastal main street] Ali’i Drive and think, ‘Wow, that guy’s looking really lean and mean,’ but that’s part of it I think.” If you can be the one looking relaxed and comfortable, he says, and see someone else freaking out while they look at everybody, “you’re obviously on the right side of that” and in good shape for having a better day. It’s in the days leading up to that, James says, “where you’ve got all the logistics; packing the bags and making sure you’ve not forgotten anything”, – that feelings of stress creep in. “Once you’ve checked your bike in there’s very little you can do,” he says, “so when it comes to the night before the race, I get this peaceful relaxation and tend to sleep fairly well, but not deeply – the alarm goes off and I am instantly 100% race day.” THE COMING STORM
During the walk down to the start, the tension starts building again – heightened by the deep, heartbeat-like music that plays. “As they turn it on, you try to tune it out, but it gets to you, the slow, deep bass rhythm building like there’s a thunderstorm coming,” James says. “As you walk down the steps onto Dig Me Beach, you’re very aware of the enormity of what’s coming. But generally, the thoughts aren’t, ‘This is an enormous race and everyone in the world’s watching.’ It’s more like, ‘This is going to really hurt!’” That anticipation of pain is, in James’ eyes, the worst part of race morning – even a good day hurts, and will go on hurting more and more intensely until crossing the line that afternoon. “You’ve got surfboards going backwards and forwards in front of you in the water and when the cannon goes, they stop and sit up,” he says. “It’s kind of like Russian roulette whether a surfboard’s going to stop right in front of you. There’s a lot riding on that – not quite a bullet from a gun, but it does feel like that; you don’t know exactly when it’s going to go and how it’s going to play out. It’s very tense.
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“And then the gun goes, and you maybe get two or three strokes and then it’s process again,” James continues. “You’re swimming so hard and your heart rate is so high and because there’s not much to see or do, you’re very, very focused. Breathe, sight, get on the right feet, where’s the group? Am I swimming straight? That’s all you’re thinking about; you’re in the moment and if you can keep there for eight hours, you’ll have a brilliant day.” This year, despite his swim skin getting pulled open 500m in, James kept his cool, stayed focused and completed the 3.8km swim in 49:09 having managed to keep pace with the main group entering the first transition. “It seems crazy because you’ve got an eight-hour race and transition’s about one-and-a-half minutes, but more than any other time in the whole race, that first transition is super, super urgent. It doesn’t really need to be, but it always is. You don’t want to give a second even though a second’s not going to make a difference in the long run.” KEEPING OUT OF TROUBLE
With, that out of the way, James was soon on his fully-loaded and ENVE SES 7.8-equipped Cervelo P5X, but right from the off, it was clear that all wasn’t well. “I had a bit of a leg niggle going into the race. It only came up in race week and I figured it was just a taper problem, but the day before it actually stopped me running. I was pretty worried about it and wasn’t interested in going to the front and pushing the pace. So, I sat at the back of that group and focused on warming up my knee and staying out of trouble.” Soon, the course leads the riders from the hubbub of Kailua Kona onto the fabled Queen K highway, a ribbon of tarmac bisecting the desolate black lava fields that epitomise the event’s toughness. Here the race can be lost or won, both on the bike and, later, on the run. Around 40km into the ride, James suddenly became aware that his knee had completely loosened up and he couldn’t feel it anymore. “That’s when a wry smile came across my face and I thought, ‘Wow, this could actually be a really good day for me’,” he recalls. But it was equally apparent how hot things would soon be getting. “Generally, by 10am there are some clouds starting to form on the mountains and the wind’s picking up,” he says. “This year there was very little wind and no clouds whatsoever. You start thinking about the processes around that: drinking more; focusing on your nutrition and the aid stations; not missing bottles; conserving for a hot run. “At the same time, you still have to react to what’s happening and start thinking a bit more big-picture while you watch the guys around you. Going up to the turnaround in Hawi, [Sebastian] Kienle, Cam Wurf and [Lionel] Sanders came past us and blew the field to pieces. I crawled all the way back up to them and passed lots of guys, but you can’t keep track of where you are, you get a lot less information than people imagine.” STATION TO STATION
As the groups were splintering on the way back from the Hawi, James found himself inside the top 10 and just ahead of defending champion, Jan Frodeno of Germany. But as the kilometres ticked by, he became less concerned with how the champ might be feeling as a hunger knock kicked in. “I’ve done 40 of these things and I’ve never run out of gels,” he says. “But for some reason, I was particularly hungry this time and my fuel reserves were running really low. You have to get back to your own focus and say, ‘This could pass. Get the fuel in; you’re having a bad patch, not a bad day.’ Because even when you’re in fifth or sixth place, when you’re out on the Queen K and the wind’s howling in your face, it’s 30 degrees and you’re seeing black spots in front of your eyes, it’s very easy to cruise in and call it a day.” Things were “pretty nasty” at that point, James admits. “But as bad as you feel and as much as you want to get off the bike and never see it again, you’re also very aware that the marathon is going to hurt even more than you’re currently hurting.”
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James held on, aid station to aid station, kilometre to kilometre to come off the bike in fifth place, his ENVEs also helping him to the fifth-fastest split of the day: 4:21:02. “There’s definitely an enormous sense of relief when you get off the bike. From then on in, you’re 100% in control of your result. When you’re out on the bike, there are a lot of factors that aren’t in your control; the rest of this race, it comes down to only you and what you’re able to do, but there’s also the awareness that it’s only going to get harder from here on in.” RACE-STOPPING PAIN
For James, the situation got immediately harder as the knee injury that had abated on the bike flared into potentially race-stopping pain within a few metres. “The little hill down Hualalai in the first mile really hurt – I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to run, and was trying to decide whether my race was over,” he says. “When you’re on Ali’i Drive, if you have a bad patch, it’s awful. I’ve stopped and pulled out at the 10km mark before because I just couldn’t go any further and you are so aware of all the people around you watching you when you’re feeling awful. You just want to be alone with your pain and your misery and you’re not.” Mercifully, James’ knee loosened up from about the one-mile mark and, with nutrition also kicking in, things once more started looking up. “I’d definitely lost a bit of time and a few places, but I was able to start focusing on finding my rhythm, keeping the nutrition coming in and looking at who’s in front,” he says. But with the thermometer inexorably rising, it was time to once again swap the raucous crowd support in town for the loneliness and pain of the Queen K. “I remember thinking, ‘Just remember how tough this is, because you’re in fifth or sixth, it’s unbelievably painful, but even if you were five minutes up the road and winning the race, you’d be hurting just the same.’” Good day or bad day, the Queen K is a torture chamber from end to end; by this point in the race, bodies are at their limit and mental and physical pain are becoming hard to separate. There were a couple of “dark patches” going down into the ‘Energy Lab’, especially at the turnaround, James remembers. This is perhaps the hottest part of the course, as the athletes take a left turn off the Queen K. The barren, open area has some of the strongest solar radiation in the coastal US, indicated by its giant solar panels. It’s here that the race is often lost or won – athletes run in strong and come out walking or find a second wind to dig deep to the finish. “Terenzo [Bozzone] came past me; I tried to go with him and he managed to pull away from me, but I started feeling better as we came out of the Energy Lab and I caught back up,” James says. WORKING TOGETHER
The New Zealander tried to surge again, but James reeled him back in. “I said, ‘Let’s work together for a bit and help each other because otherwise we’re going to blow each other to bits and the guys behind us are going to catch us. We’ve still got 10 miles to go, we can sort this out nearer the end. “I can definitely say I was hurting all the way back,” James says. “At any second, I could have cracked – my legs could cramp, I could collapse over sideways, I could just black out – you’re like that for 10 or 15km towards the end of the race, but there’s nowhere to stop.” Stopping would mean being left standing in the middle of the highway, with the sun baking from above and the tar baking from below. “I often hear pros say the quickest way to make the pain stop is to get to the finish line,” James goes on. “The difference between 20km and 19km is hardly noticeable, but the difference between 3km and 2km is massive. I was just ticking it off in my head, ‘You can focus for
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only five more kilometres, it’s only 20 more minutes of running. You can hurt for 20 more minutes.’ Then it’s only 16 more minutes, then 12 and you’re pretty much there. Then you know that even if your wheels fall off now, you could probably get to the finish.” Having someone to run with felt “pretty good”, and James also remembers feeling quietly confident that he could eke just a little more out when it came down to hitting the last couple of kilometres. “Obviously, I didn’t know how Terenzo was feeling, but I’m pretty sure he was hurting as badly as I was,” James says. “I said to him after the race that it would go down as one of my favourite Kona memories, dicing with him for the last 10km of the race; having our own little Iron War along the Queen K, even if it was for fifth place, not first.” MAKING A MOVE
In fact, the spot James had picked to make his move turned out to be exactly the same point that Mark Allen had pulled away from fellow legend of the sport, Dave Scott, in the original 1989 Iron War. “There’s an aid station before it kicks uphill for about 300 to 400m to the top of Palani – I’d pretty much decided that if we hadn’t sorted it out by then, that was where I was going to go because I’m pretty good at running uphill and there was a real chance my whole knee was going to seize when I tried to go downhill,” James says. He surged, not daring to look behind. “When I got to the top, [multiple Ironman winner] Cam Brown was standing on the roadside and I shouted, ‘Where is he?’ and he shouted, ‘200m at least!’ I thought, ‘At least now if I have to stumble my way down Palani I can maybe still hold him off! Don’t look behind, just empty the tank and get to the finish line!’” There’s a sense at this stage, James says, in fact until hitting Ali’i Drive for the last 400m, that “at any second” it could all fall apart. “Even that final stretch is tempered by the fact you could cramp, or that the guy behind might actually still be right there and you wouldn’t be able to hear or see him because there are so many crowds and people walking,” he says. “But you do relax a little bit – you can high-five a few people, smile at a few and try and enjoy the fact that this is the World Champs and this is the famous finish line that you’ve seen on all the videos. You soak it in as much as you can.” After toiling through injury, intolerable heat and excruciating pain, James crossed that iconic finish line in a time of 8:11:24, his fifth place helping him to secure a huge head start in the points table for his 2018 Kona campaign. Looking forward, there’s no lack of hunger. “I was pretty stoked with my performance, but the biggest excitement for me was that there was a lot of room for improvement there,” James says. If the knee hadn’t played up, five minutes could have been shaved off the run, then there were the nutrition issues, and a sense that he could have got “a little bit more” out of the bike. “I crossed the line and was pretty much immediately thinking that I was nine or 10 minutes off the win, and that I can definitely find nine or 10 minutes there,” James concludes. “That’s what was really exciting, more so than celebrating the fact that I’d just come fifth in the world. It was a feeling of, ‘Right, passed that test! Now bring it on!’ and I’m still hanging onto that.”
PERPETUAL MOTION Chasing the UCI World Cup and Enduro World Series around the globe means clocking unfeasible miles and kissing goodbye to plain sailing. But then, calm seas never made a good sailor... WORDS RIC MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOS DUNCAN PHILPOTT
Travel broadens the mind, or so the old saying goes. Like most perception-alterers, though, do enough of it and things can start to go askew.
when the cabin lights are dimmed yet daylight chinks through the bottom of the blind beside you. On three separate occasions in the last eight months, and nearly 50 flights, I’ll stare blankly at a customs officer, zombified. “Where have you come from?” the official asks. “Don’t know,” I reply.
Once time-honoured routines can feel as alien as slipping into someone else’s shoes – and before you know it you can feel like a stranger in your own home. Now and again I’ll find myself standing in my kitchen at 4am, trying to compute the time that it’ll take to wash the clothes in my bag – and what the likelihood is of having them dry before I leave again at 8:30am. It’s like one of those mathematics problems at school, but with the all-too-real potential consequence of wearing damp boxer shorts.
But following mountain bike racing around the globe is never about the seat time. It’s never about waking up not knowing where you are or placing your faith entirely in the satellite navigation system of a Fiat 500. It’s about the things you see along the way.
GHOSTS OF THE PAST
Travel this regularly and your clothes perpetually stink, time zones no longer really matter and meals lose their familiar texture or relevance. Over the course of covering 2017’s UCI World Cup and Enduro World Series seasons I’ll eat sushi at 6am and choke down economy-class tinfoil specials in that weird hinterland where time seems to have ceased;
During the long drive from Vienna to the Nove Mesto World Cup, for example, you drive through the eerie remnants of what was once the Iron Curtain. Broken, square buildings with slits for windows and some crumbling traffic islands denote where the West used to end and something altogether different began.
TOP LEFT: Not your average media car for EWS Tasmania. BOTTOM LEFT: Chilling with the pros in beside Tasmanian trails.
TOP: Beautiful scenery comes with the territory for globe-trotting MTB racing. BOTTOM: A colourful character from the race in Rotorua.
On the same trip, you pass through the small town of Poysdorf, where a six-foot plaster caricature of Eurovision’s first transsexual winner, Conchita Wurst, clutches her heart and sings into an empty wine bottle. Unfortunately, someone has made off with her microphone.
sipping Marlboro-strength brews and talking about anything other than bike racing. Two minutes later, it’s back on the supersonic wasp and into the hills.
IN THE ZONE
You really feel the hours in the media rooms, watching everyone around you move through the arc from daisy-fresh, to tired, to fraying at the edges, to the point where either sleep or cold beer win out. Everyone, a few days in, can get a bit odd; a bit warped and crispy around the edges. Often, you find those who are best at their jobs are the ones who embrace this zone and are most comfortable within it. Those who complain don’t last long. The only God in those rooms is the broadband speed, and the only salvation is when the contents of your Dropbox link have been received.
At the final EWS of the year in Finale, meanwhile, race organiser Chris Ball and I find ourselves travelling around stage finishes on a 500cc quad bike. Loaded with camera kit and two bodies, the battered Chinese-made machine puts its torque down in monstrous, hard-to-control globs. Each time, the back end sinks down, the front wheels go light and it becomes near-impossible to steer. Its noise makes it akin to straddling some huge, angry wasp – race days are hectic at the best of times, but we seem to have found the most frenetic, sensory disrupter in Italy to travel around on.
In Madeira (travel tip: never YouTube ‘Madeira airport’ before going there) this year we end up with an extra day to kill after the race, so several of us head to the hills with local guiding legend Jon Fernandes. Three runs in, we’re on one of the tracks featured in Brendan Fairclough and Clay Porter’s seminal Deathgrip – and it feels like I’m drunk. There’s a delay from brain to bars – a fraction of a second – and I’m moving far faster than I should be. Wracked with tiredness, I’m just stood on top of the bike hitting turns and gaps I’ve no business being anywhere near.
Halfway up a steep, door-lined street, Chris roars over his shoulder to me, “Coffee?” We pull into a car park and make dorks of ourselves in front of an assembled group of local guys relaxing in front of a tiny cafe, shouting into radios and pawing through our phones in our bike helmets and goggles. Inside the cafe, everything is a shade of faded brown. Cigarette packs are stacked behind the counter above optics of Scotch, brandy and the omnipresent grappa. The elderly Italian lady behind the counter glides to a standstill holding a pair of macchiatos, calmly gesticulates for us to sit down and then places a single bony digit to her lips: it’s time for coffee – the rest can wait. And wait it does – we sit quietly,
By the end of the run I decide to call it – I’ve had enough – because the next stop is almost certainly hospital. To my relief, everyone else is grinning at the same realisation. We roll down to Paul do Mar
LEFT AND TOP: Racers in Whistler have to be wary of the local wildlife. BOTTOM: The stunning skies above Finale Ligure in Italy
and the famous Maktub Pub. The owner proudly produces a whole red snapper, fresh from that morning’s wheelbarrow, before oven-baking it encased in an inch of sea salt while tray after tray of perfect mojitos rolls out.
the best I’ve ridden – swoopy, fast, challenging and of the kind that when you pull up to a halt everyone is beaming and talking 10 to the dozen. It’s all hand signals and mock-panic faces. What I love most about Derby is how completely it does the important things well. Stunning trails (with uplift should you need it), a bike shop, a single pizzeria churning out beautifully crisp stone-baked goodness and a coffee shop offering dark, milky cups of ‘one more run’ juice. Go somewhere like Whistler and you can quickly feel overloaded with commercial choice and end up spending an age discussing where you can go for food or what you’re going to ride the following day, where such and such a person got the best deal on tyres or if such and such a lift is running. In Derby on the other hand your options are limited but excellent.
Everyone laughs and jokes as the sun slowly sets and the Atlantic smashes against the rocks behind us, seemingly at odds with the gentle breeze blowing through the open-air bar. Tiredness mingles headily with rum and post-ride endorphins – it’s a moment I’ll always look back on as a reference point for being completely and utterly happy.
When you feel really privileged, however, is when you find yourself somewhere you know you would never have visited if it wasn’t for bikes. At the start of this year, photographer Duncan Philpott and I share a rental car for the four-hour drive from Hobart to Derby in Tasmania. The landscape is stunning – and like nothing I’ve seen before. A pink haze hangs over what looks like a hybrid of the Scottish Highlands and the ancient walls of the Utah desert.
I’ve learned to take a similar approach to my travel essentials, which vary from trip to trip. Spotify is often my saviour, as, relatedly, is my USB phone charger. Likewise, sound-cancelling headphones are a must for flights and noisy hotels. Other than those, I like to read a lot – and getting yourself into the mindset that a flight isn’t a chore, it’s just somewhere that you can sit and read and (hopefully) be left alone helps. Just keep me away from those people who try and reassemble themselves and bags at the very end of the security scanner. Seriously, take your tray to the wee table thing. Please.
We’ve been advised that there is virtually nowhere to stop along the route. Yet we find a tiny settlement, Campbell Town, little more than a few buildings either side of the road. The local diner is just about done for the night, but it serves us up delicious strands of soul-saving tagliatelle and some warm apple pie for dessert.
Years ago, curiosity got me out of my home village. But bikes got me out of my comfort zone and actually ended up taking me places. Now the season is over, all that I’m left with are ghosts. Memories I cling to and a smartphone crammed with pictures that would only make sense to a small group of people and would bore most others to tears. Adding to them is all that I want to do now – travel, even with all its murk, has me hooked.
The next morning, Derby, its corrugated metal roofs poking through the mist, feels like what a village in Jurassic Park (had there been one) would feel like. An old tin-mining outpost, its scars run deep – a catastrophic flood in 1929 killed 22, basically a whole generation of men, and all but finished the place off. Yet it has clung on and is now pinning its future to mountain biking. Derby’s trails are some of
TOP: Madeira’s desolate beauty BOTTOM: A disappointing finish
IN AN EXCERPT FROM HIS NEW WARTS-AND-ALL LOOK AT PELOTON LIFE, DRAFT ANIMALS, EX-WORLDTOUR RACER AND PROFESSIONAL COOKIE CONNOISSEUR, PHILÂ GAIMON RECOUNTS HIS FIRST RACE WITH GARMIN-SHARP AT THE 2014 TOUR DE SAN LUIS
WORDS PHIL GAIMON PICS PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
HE FIRST RACE IN A LONG SEASON, THE TOUR DE SAN LUIS IS CONSIDERED A LOW-PRESSURE EVENT, BUT IT WOULD STILL BE THE BIGGEST RACE I’D EVER DONE. THE TEAM SENDS RIDERS EARLY WHEN THERE’S A TIME ZONE ADJUSTMENT, SO WITH TWO DAYS TO KILL, WE PILED INTO A TAXI TO FIND A BARBERSHOP. IT WAS TOO HOT TO BE SHAGGY, AND A HAIRCUT IS A GOOD ADVENTURE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. I SHOWED THE BARBER A PICTURE OF GEORGE CLOONEY I FOUND IN A MAGAZINE, BUT IT CAME OUT MORE ‘JIM CARREY’.
While his teammates got haircuts, Tom Danielson stayed at the hotel with his feet up. At thirty-four years old, fifteen pounds lighter than he’d been at the Tour of Utah six months before from a strict anti-inflammation and vegan diet (which I think means he ate nothing), he was here to win. With the lofty goal of an overall podium at a Grand Tour in 2014, he’d spent another winter doing intervals on Mt. Lemmon, and I was supposed to be not peaking, so we were both confused when I dropped him on a climb the day before the first stage, doing ‘opener’ efforts to get our legs into race mode. I chalked it up to the heat, which I was accustomed to from Los Angeles. We regrouped at the top, where Tyler Farrar crouched over a huge pile of cow shit, so it looked like it was his shit. I took a photo and it kills me that I can’t find it for this book, so stop reading for a second and try to picture it, OK? He’s grimacing. A former pro named Chann McRae (guess whose team he was on a few years before) was director for the week. At our first meeting, he said that Danielson would be our leader, and Janier Acevedo would be protected to help on the climbs. Janier also came from an American Continental team, so we were rivals the year before, but after suffering from knee problems all winter and seeing me during my openers, he suggested that maybe I’d be better for that role.
I had more to offer, and a breakaway would be fun.
Chann looked at me, doubtfully. “We’ll see how the first stages go. For now, we save Janier.” My job was to get water bottles from the car.
Now I’d made it. I was one of them. Drake was still in my head at the start line when the top riders were introduced. The crowd went wild for Nairo Quintana – an inspirational young Colombian who’d climbed to second overall at the 2013 Tour de France – but they also cheered for Filippo Pozzato, an Italian with a long history of questionable doctors. Pozzato hadn’t won a race in
As we headed to the venue in a rusty van, I listened to a playlist Joanna made for my WorldTour debut. I think she included it as a joke, but I got emotional when Drake’s Started from the Bottom came on, thinking of myself at 24, a hopeless kid driving to races in my car, wondering what I was doing with my life until this little team wearing argyle gave me something to shoot for.
“Or if you feel like it, Phil, try and sneak into the early breakaway.” He shrugged. “The big teams don’t know who you are, so maybe they’d let it go.” I didn’t mind doing the bottle thing, but I thought
years but he was still cashing paychecks, partying and womanising, and if that’s not enough reason to hate him, Pippo trained in Malibu one winter and went out with Joanna. On a recent trip to LA, he was disappointed to learn that she was taken now and excited to race against me. “We’ll see who is the better man in San Luis,” he’d told my fiancée. Douchebag. The race had barely started when I found myself a minute up the road from the pack with five riders from smaller teams, in a move that seemed doomed like every other early breakaway. Teams with good sprinters would keep us within three minutes and reel us in at the end, but the Tour de Phil must have helped my endurance, because 80k into the 170k stage, the three South American riders couldn’t pull with me anymore, and I was still feeling good.
shocked, we gave each other a look, shaking our heads, but Marc and I cooperated, digging deep to keep as much of our lead as possible.
“No sprint!” they promised, meaning they wouldn’t contest the finish if – by some miracle – we stayed away. That left me and Marc de Maar from the UnitedHealthcare team to do the heavy lifting. I outsprinted Marc to the top of a mountain for KOM points, relieved to at least earn a polka-dot jersey on a day that would turn out to be a waste of energy, but with 60k to go, a race official came up on his motorcycle to say that our lead had increased. Sprinters’ teams had argued about who should chase down the break, and the pack was twelve minutes behind.
With 40k to go, we were still eight minutes ahead, blindly following two police motorcycles down a highway through a treeless, boiling-hot plain. I was pulling when we entered a roundabout, where one of the motos went straight and the other turned left. Not sure who to follow, I looked back to see if my breakmates knew the route, but one of them wasn’t paying attention. He crashed into de Maar, taking them all down in a heap. I soft-pedaled for a minute, wondering if I should stop to let them catch up. Waiting is more sportsmanlike, and I’d go faster taking turns in the wind with de Maar, but for all we knew he’d have a trashed bike or a broken collarbone. Chann drove
I’d followed this pointless breakaway on a whim, but now I was guaranteed a podium finish at a UCI stage, and if they didn’t hurry up, the whole GC would be between me and de Maar. Both
up next to me and told me to press on, alone. They say that insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results, but perseverance doesn’t look much different. When a hitter pops up the baseball and it looks like an easy out, if he wants to protect himself emotionally, he’ll trudge back to the dugout and have a seat, but a real pro is taught to run full speed toward first base, because someday they’ll miss the catch and he’ll be safe. Over the years, I’d been in a hundred early breakaways, believing over and over that this could be the day that it stuck, only to be disappointed, finishing sore and five minutes down. Now, on my first day with Garmin-Sharp, they’d finally dropped the ball. It was still a long way to the finish, but I was going to win one. For the next hour, the road was so straight I could see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon, but I kept my head down and my speed up. In the final kilometers, my legs were locking up from cramps while blisters bled where my forearms leaned on the handlebars, but as those delicious victory chemicals rushed through me, I felt no pain. Capping off a day that fans would call the greatest entrance to the WorldTour in history, I crossed the line kissing the necklace that Joanna gave me, with the pack still five minutes behind. At the awards ceremony, I felt bad having podium girls kiss my cheeks when I’d just gotten engaged, and made a mental note that the next time I win a UCI race, I’ll refuse the kisses to make a statement. (I’m still waiting for that.)
and photos (living the dream!). I soaked it in, but still couldn’t believe it was happening to me. My phone had a thousand messages, but after a quick call to Joanna, I only had the energy for one short post on Twitter: “Pinch me.” I tried to unwind with music on the drive back to the hotel. I never thought I’d cry to a Drake song, but Started from the Bottom got me good.
The sun was setting by the time I carried a trophy, flowers, and a leader’s jersey – all covered in confetti – through a mob seeking autographs DRAFT ANIMALS: LIVING THE PRO CYCLING DREAM (ONCE IN A WHILE) IS OUT NOW FROM PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
THE INTENSE M29 PROJECT T H E
N E X T B I G P A R T 2
T H I N G
WORDS JEFF STEBER PICS INTENSE CYCLES
For me, Intense’s M29 project is much more than a technological achievement – it defines who we are as brand. Part 2 finds us at the back end of a successful World Cup season, having tested the M29 alloy prototypes with a couple of the Intense Factory Racing boys. Jack Moir and Dean Lucas trialled no less than four different versions – each with differing geometries and suspension kinematics. Now, with the concept proved, it was time to step things up to the next level.
SETTING A NEW BENCHMARK But we were now moving into uncharted waters with this whole project. I knew the M29 was destined to set a fresh benchmark in the long lineage of the venerable M-series. We weren’t just designing a new bike. We had a responsibility to uphold the legacy of the M. A timeline was set. Our goal was to hit at least one of the remaining World Cup races with a full-carbon prototype. This would prove to be no easy task. It meant there had to be some overlap where we felt comfortable enough with the alloy test mules to start moving forward with Carbon 3D modelling of the new bike.
All this time, my brain had been working overtime on the evolution of the alloy test rigs into a sleek, purpose-built and designed carbon fibre race machine. The M16, our first carbon effort with a DH race sled, has proved very successful and will fill an important place in our lineup with 27.5in wheels until the rest of the world catches up. Going back deeper, the legacy of the ‘M’ was forged with a forrace-only (FRO) mentality and proven track record under the world’s fastest racers, and its many evolutions – the iconic M1, M3, M6, M9… and on to the M16 and M29. To see the new bikes evolve from the crude-but-sexy, handbuilt alloy prototypes reminded me why I love my job, and seeing Jack Moir have two of the best finishes of his career aboard the new bike reminded me why I started doing this in the first place.
The Intense R&D team’s collaboration with Cesar Rojo and Cero Design would be the key. We worked together, spent some serious computer time and created the concepts and 3D models that would eventually become the M29. Cesar pushed the boundaries with some very futuristic ideas. He suggested combining the best attributes of the alloy prototypes together to create the new superbike. After a little analog sketching and some digital rendering, we decided on a middle ground that we felt would pass the test of time, turn some heads and win some races.
“To see the new bikes evolve from the crude-but-sexy, handbuilt alloy prototypes reminded me why I love my job, and seeing Jack Moir have two of the best finishes of his career aboard the new bike reminded me why I started doing this in the first place”
TOP: Drawings and prototype designs for the M29 MIDDLE RIGHT: Jeff showing off the finished frame BOTTOM: Chappy with the built-up, race-ready ride FAR RIGHT: Jack Moir showing the value of a 29-inch DH bike
“I asked myself, was the M29 aggressive enough in concept? Was it innovative enough in design? Was it as striking as its predecessors? Would it perform at the level it needed to in order to hold its position at the top?”
At this point, some very important boxes had to be checked. As I might have mentioned, the M-series has always defined our brand. This new bike had to be no exception. I asked myself, was the M29 aggressive enough in concept? Was it innovative enough in design? Was it as striking as its predecessors? Would it perform at the level it needed to in order to hold position at the top? As I went down the list, it became clear to me that the new design was indeed something special. Fuelled by that realisation, 3D models were completed, rapid prototypes were created and the race was on to get the first carbon fibre samples ready to be raced at the remaining World Cups. OUT OF OBSCURITY It had been quite a journey to get to this point in the project, and along the way there were a few side effects. Jack Moir had burst onto the World Cup stage with a second place at Fort William aboard the alloy M29 prototype (version 2). Jack had helped define the concept for the bike and raced it to its fullest potential. At the same time, and not purely by coincidence, IFR came out of the relative obscurity of being a World Cup ‘B-team’ to being a focal point of the MTB media and a regular stop for editors and photographers from all over the world. The press now had a story (the bike) and a hero (Jack). They also had something no other team could offer – an amazing comeback story for both a rider fighting to overcome a series of injuries, and an underdog race team, battling for years to reclaim its spot on the World Cup circuit. So, when he was chosen to be the test pilot for the new carbon sample, Jack knew he would have to give up the comfort and
good luck of his alloy steed and switch over to an entirely new bike with new geo and materials, mid-season of his best year ever. After a lot of long nights and hard work on behalf of teams of people on three different continents, we were able to send a carbon sample frame directly to Crankworx in Whistler. There was time for team technical director, Chappy Fiene to build and tune it, and for Jack to get a few runs on it before heading to Val Di Sole, Italy for World Cup finals. EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER Neither the rider nor the bike would disappoint, with Jack taking third in the Garbo DH and fourth in the Canadian Open. Val Di Sole meanwhile proved to be one of the most challenging tracks of the season, and Jack took 10th on the new rig. As if that wasn’t enough, he finished third in timed training and fourth in the final at the World Champs in Cairns. After the emotional rollercoaster of this project, this was the cake-topper. The pressure of creating a machine that would not only embody all the mandatory qualities of an M-series bike, but raise the bar, along with running the test mules during the World Cup season on the race tracks with the media watching, is not something I’m looking forward to dealing with again anytime soon. But the results are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. To me this was part of the emotional journey that defines projects like this – it just feels right. So we do it, and so it happened: the rebirth of Intense Factory Racing, a rising star, a group of dedicated people that redefines the word ‘team’, and the next big thing – the M29!
SHOP FOCUS: PROLOGUE PERFORMANCE CYCLING FOUNDER JOHN REID TALKS BRAND BUILDING, INTERIOR DESIGN AND DRAWING ON YORKSHIRE’S CYCLING SUCCESS STORY
WORDS ALEX TURNER AND PICTURES RUSS ELLIS
SITUATED IN THE GENTEEL NORTH YORKSHIRE SPA TOWN OF HARROGATE, PROLOGUE PERFORMANCE CYCLING BENEFITS FROM BOTH AN AFFLUENT LOCAL CATCHMENT AREA AND SOME OF THE UK’S MOST GORGEOUSLY MOODY SCENERY RIGHT ON ITS DOORSTEP. WE CAUGHT UP WITH FOUNDER JOHN REID TO HEAR ABOUT THE BUSINESS’S ORIGINS, AND THE THOUGHTFUL APPROACH THAT’S HELPED IT TO CARVE OUT A NICHE IN ONE OF ENGLAND’S TRUE CYCLING HEARTLANDS.
“After spending many years working in sales and marketing, I wanted to become more involved in my major passion – cycling – while at the same time developing a unique brand and offering more than just a retail environment,” John explains. Putting together a template for achieving that aspiration started with John drawing from his own experiences as cycling enthusiast. “Many a time I would be getting ready for a ride and realise – too late – before heading out into the cold to reach the meeting point that I had run out of energy bars or gels, or did not have a spare tube, or my rear light wasn’t working,” he says. “It would be too early for the shops to be open, so I’d have to hope someone else on the ride might have some spares. Once off on the ride, we’d stop at a café en route or at the end – but often the lack of somewhere to leave the bike safely meant another cold wait outside while someone went into order.” RESEARCH JOURNEY
Those experiences set John on an online research journey, thinking about the various services that cyclists use and exploring the UK’s growing network of cycling cafés, some with their own workshops. “The business idea, beyond a simple shop, started to formulate,” he recalls. “If I could provide a café for cyclists to meet pre-, mid- or post-ride, which opened early and served coffee, drinks and great food, I could promote this to the clubs in the area and also further afield for people visiting Harrogate.
“If I could also provide a retail offering for lights, tubes, energy products and so on then while they were in the café they could quickly grab what they needed for that day’s ride or the next one. They might also wander into the main shop and take a browse, which could lead to the seed of an idea for their next purchase being planted.” Drop into Prologue today and you’re greeted by an alluringly high-end setup befitting Harrogate’s Victorian splendour. Outside the large period building it occupies is a terrace on which cyclists can relax in safety and comfort (Yorkshire weather permitting); within, besides the café and shop – boasting finery from Castelli, ENVE, Stages, Rotor and Sidi among others – are a treatment room and bike-fit centre. What was the process behind developing John’s ideas into today’s slick operation – and where did the vision for the brand, which conjures images of the Tour de France, come from? “I discussed my business idea with my close friend David Webb, who has over 20 years’ experience working in some of London’s leading branding agencies,” John says. “We brainstormed ideas on names and retail concepts, even down to a colour audit of other cycling brands, to try to identify where there were potential gaps in the market. “After a couple of months of market research among friends, family and focus groups – including experienced and newbie cyclists – we settled on the name and set about creating the Prologue Performance Cycling brand. The definition of prologue in cycling terms is: ‘An individual time trial of usually less than five miles before a stage race, used to determine which rider wears the leader’s jersey on the first stage’. Starting point, best individual performance, leader’s jersey, all of those fitted our concept.” BRAND BUILDING
A key goal therefore was to deliver a place where people could from the outset maximise their cycling experience and increase their performance. Offering bike fitting, testing, training plans and advice, as well as the kit and bikes, would provide people with the opportunity to do so.
“OUR AIM IS THAT EVERY CUSTOMER LEAVES THE STORE WITH TOTAL SATISFACTION WHETHER THEY HAVE USED THE SHOP, CAFÉ OR WORKSHOP OR HAD A SPORTS MASSAGE OR BIKE FIT – AND THAT THEY RECOMMEND US TO THEIR FRIENDS AND KEEP COMING BACK.”
But the vision for Prologue went beyond that. “I wanted to create a lifestyle brand that could help drive the success of the business, with our own identity, cycling kit and clothing, with its beginnings in Harrogate but with the potential to be replicated in other locations in the future,” John explains.
“We offer cyclists a space and security for their bike, and we welcome all of them – whether they’re Lycra-clad for a big day out, on the way to or from work with trousers tucked into socks, or just taking an occasional ride into town,” John goes on.
With those parameters established and shop premises found, John decided he needed to enlist some expertise in the area of interior design.
“I think the range of services we provide also helps sets us apart from other bike shops. Over the last three years we have become the place where cyclists meet, almost like a club for the clubs. It’s a space where people feel relaxed and spend time, which allows us to build very good relationships – and many of our customers have become good friends. This means they trust our advice and can discuss any issues openly with us.”
“I was introduced to Russell Ashdown, an experienced interior retail designer and a passionate runner and cyclist,” John says. “Russell formed his company Remodel in 2007, specifically to work with growing independent businesses. His belief is that great companies have a purpose; an idea that sets them apart in their market and needs bringing to life in their space.” Remodel’s ethos, John adds, strongly resonated with what he wanted to do with Prologue.
CREATING A COMMUNITY
John’s professional background has also unsurprisingly continued to come in handy in terms of expanding his operation’s reach.
“I worked with Russell through a number of iterations of designs and plans to the final scheme we have today, best utilising all of the available 1,350 square feet of space to combine all the elements of café, retail, bike fit, treatment centre and workshop into a single location,” he continues. “This included all of the specification of materials and finishes, planning applications, analysis of point of sale requirements for stock, even down to the equipment in the café.”
“I understand that how you market the business is key, because it drives the number of people that we will get through the door,” he says. “It’s very important to have a mixed marketing strategy using a number of different channels to engage with our target audience. “One of the key elements for us was to create a community, and we’ve done so via a number of different activities such as social rides, women’s rides, a Strava Club and leader board. We’ve hosted talks on nutrition and training with power, film nights and events with pro cyclists such as David Millar and Scott Thwaites.
A PERFECT LOCATION
The process of bringing this ambitious – and painstaking – project into successful life has been aided by its location. North Yorkshire’s dramatic landscapes have been attracting visitors for centuries; it’s hardly surprising this area was chosen to form the central part of Stage 1 of the Tour de France in 2014. Following the success of the Grand Depart came the Tour de Yorkshire, which started in 2015 and has now been extended to a four-day event for 2018. In 2019, meanwhile, Harrogate will be the host town for the UCI World Championships.
We have also run maintenance workshops and many other events such as our own race series, have sponsored local club races and now have our own Prologue race team.”
“The increase in uptake of cycling in Yorkshire has been dramatic over the past few years,” John says. “It’s obvious to see, either when riding yourself or out in the car, the amount of people on the roads these days and the growing numbers of people taking part in sportives and family fun rides. “Many top riders already train in the area, which provides fabulous cycling opportunities from gentle routes in the valleys to some challenging climbs over the moorland that separates them. From the wild and remote northern dales to the rolling farmland in the east, the cycling is always memorable for the fantastic scenery and beautiful villages.” Harrogate itself, with its wealthy residents and steady stream of tourists, has always had its fair share of busy cafés. But the fact that none of them had previously catered specifically to cyclists has really helped Prologue find its niche and get known.
Despite the brand’s concept being partly based on the possibility of recreating the Prologue experience in other locations, John says he has no current plans for expansion. Again, that’s partly because the shop’s location – and its mouthwatering array of top-line produce – means cyclists will often travel to pay a visit. But, John says, the business’s success means a move to larger premises or into other towns should definitely not be ruled out further down the line. “In the meantime, I hope cyclists feel this is a place where they can relax, enjoy great coffee and delicious food, watch some live televised cycling or classic races from the past and indulge their passion for road cycling with like-minded people,” he concludes. “Our aim is that every customer leaves the store with total satisfaction whether they have used the shop, café or workshop or had a sports massage or bike fit – and that they recommend us to their friends and keep coming back.”
S TA F F R I D E S
S TA F F R I D E INTENSE RACING UK RIDER JOE BREEDEN’S WORLD CHAMPS SILVER MEDAL-WINNING INTENSE M16
We had a good idea Joe would be selected to represent Great Britain at the World Champs, so we had a little time to prep for this build. What we hadn’t prepared for was the amazing breakout season that Charlie Hatton would have in 2017 – meaning we had to get two special Worlds bikes ready in a short space of time. That’s another story though… Intense Factory Racing had unveiled a very cool-looking Union Jack paint job as a special one-off for the Fort William World Cup and I’d eyed up this as being just perfect for the World Champs. A few phone calls later and Intense had agreed to supply two XL frames with this special custom paint job for Joe and Charlie to take to Cairns – result! We didn’t want to leave everything else stock though, so our design team set to work creating some custom decals for the ENVE wheel graphics and the
RockShox Boxxer logos. They did a fantastic job of creating something unique and stylish to match the frame. In terms of setup, the team mechanic Andy Lund had a few tricks up his sleeves. The track at Cairns is known for being high-speed and rough but not especially steep – and is infamous for having a long flat pedal towards the end. Because of this, Andy fitted Joe’s bike with a RockShox Vivid air shock and rigged up a custom remote lockout so Joe could lock out the rear end of his bike for the sprint section, saving on watts that would otherwise be gobbled up by the action of the plush suspension. Other than the shock, everything on Joe’s bike was as he’s run it all season. It’s a tried and tested formula, and the result in Cairns speaks for itself.
S TA F F R I D E S
FRAME INTENSE M16 HANDLEBARS ENVE MINNAAR BAR GRIPS RENTHAL STEM ENVE DIRECT MOUNT WHEELS ENVE M90 CASSETTE SRAM XO DH CRANKSET SRAM XO CHAINRING SRAM XO SHIFTER SRAM XO REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM XO DH BOTTOM BRACKET SRAM FORKS ROCK SHOX BOXXER WORLD CUP SADDLE FABRIC BRAKES SRAM GUIDE TYRES MAXXIS MINION DHF
S TA F F C O L U M N S
S TA F F C O L U M N S SADDLEBACK STAFF SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS ON TRAVEL, WORK VS PLAY AND THE ETERNAL QUESTION OF HOW MANY BIKES
RIDES INTENSE CARBINE INTENSE SPIDER
RIDES INTENSE TRACER CANNONDALE CAAD10
MOST-LISTENED SONG RIGHT NOW DOPPLEGANGER BREAKS MY HEAD
MOST-LISTENED SONG RIGHT NOW J COLE NO ROLE MODELZ
HEAD OF CREATIVE
True to my nature of wanting to try as many bikes as I can get my hands on, I felt an urge for something new – something that working in marketing gives me the good fortune to do on a regular albeit fleeting basis.
A friend of mine, a marathon runner looking for a new challenge, recently got into cycling. With the help of our technical product specialist Ross and his workshop we resurrected an old bike given to my friend to get him started.
I try to learn as much as I can during each short relationship. While you’ll never know the fine details that take time and perseverance to uncover, these brief encounters tell me enough to decide which ones I’d like to get to know better.
Within a couple of days of getting his bike back, he went for his maiden voyage – only to find himelf on the floor with bloodied knees. Maybe you do forget how to ride a bike… thankfully he wasn’t too hurt and is keen to get back on it.
A few issues back I was testing some new ENVE M60 wheels on my Intense Spider 275. It had been one of the bikes that left me intrigued enough to want more. I committed. We clicked straight away, bringing out the best in each other. There was a spark and I thought, this is it, this is the one.
This led me to think about my past crashes. While chuckling to myself about my friend’s crash I began reminiscing about the near-misses, hospital visits and broken bikes that have littered my cycling past – most worth a laugh but also one serious one that I was fortunate to walk away from.
While at an event where logistical Tetris played its part, and resulted in me going on and leaving the Spider at home I was introduced to another: the Primer. Initially I was dismissive, but later that evening my colleagues were going for a spin. “OK, I’ll try it,” I said. Things were going well – no awkward stalls, no unpleasant quirks. It was faster, no doubt and to my surprise very playful. Wait, wow, was I going to pick up the bill after such a short encounter?
My favourite story came during my time working for MBUK magazine. Part of my job at the time (lucky me) was to ride my bike around different locations in the UK. One day we visited the Forest of Dean, the entire magazine staff tagging along joined by legendary photographer, Steve Behr – who unfortunately did not snap the following incident. We were descending some switchback corners through the woods, me doing my usual routine of trying to keep up with writers Ric, Doddy and Weavs. I was feeling fast and loose and things were going well, at least until I hit a corner too hard and proceeded to superman over my bars – standard. What follows can perhaps best be described as ‘the same as what happened to Brian Harvey’ (look it up), but with bikes.
The ride was done, and it was my responsibility to give the Primer a clean and ensure it got home OK. I was taking way more time than normal for a bike that wasn’t mine, and I found myself staring at the Primer and not wanting to put it away for the night. I was in turmoil, ‘It can’t work, this is a 29er and I am a 27.5 man.’ I had the Spider at home, I was content and no intentions of straying. The next morning came around and the journey back to the event was filled with silence and pondering. One of my colleagues turned to me and said, “You’re thinking about the Primer aren’t you?” I’m not the first person it has seduced, and I know for a fact I won’t be the last; that day I gave into the fact that I wanted to spend more time with the Primer. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was a seriously hard decision and after many debates and arguments I was ready to make my mind up. The Primer and I have been together now for three months and while I will always have a fondness for the Spider I have made my choice and I am over the moon with it.
As I crashed to the deck and rolled down the hill my bike, seemingly possesed, didn’t fall over but continued straight for me and then ran over my leg! A while later, with a bruised limb and ego I recounted the story to the guys who took no time in having a laugh at my expense. Good times.
I knew I had made the right decision as when the Primer and I went on our first trip away I got sick. A dodgy starter left me unable to be confident of swinging my leg over a bike without embarrassing myself in many ways. One of the other guys had suffered the same fate as I at the last event and had left his respective playmate at home. The Primer was hanging on the A-frame and even had some new boots on in the shape of some striking blue Enve M7 30s. The bike was looking incredible. We hadn’t actually spent a crazy amount of time together by that stage and the trip was supposed to be something special. With me unable to ride, my colleague suggestively looked at Primer and asked the question, “Do you mind if I take this dance?” This was a big deal and a huge decision. Could I trust him with the Primer all shiny and dressed up? But I sent them on their way anyhow knowing they would have a great time – and safe in the knowing that the Primer would seduce another.
The other story I wanted to share was the time I that got me banned from riding my bike – by my mum and wife-to-be Becky – until after my wedding day. Becky and I were due to get married in the August, and the May before I went to Still Woods, an awesome spot in Bristol that no longer exists, but was full of some pretty crazy drops and jumps. I crashed pretty hard, hitting my back against a tree, and having driven myself to A&E I proceeded to collapse in reception. Soon afterwards I found myself lying inside a machine having my back and pelvis X-rayed while Becky and my mum looked on. My clothes had to be cut off me (lost a good pair of Troy Lee shorts to those scissors) in order for my injuries to assessed. Serious times. These two crashes were defining moments for me – one funny and the other clearly demonstrating that you should always wear protection when hooning around like an idiot. That doesn’t only apply to us mere mortals either – as I write this, Intense Racing UK team rider Joe Breeden (see page 69) is sitting in a hospital with some pretty bad injuries – heal soon buddy! Does any of this put me off riding? Sometimes, if I’m honest – but that fear is short-lived when you realise how much fun it is going fast on two wheels…
S TA F F C O L U M N S
RIDES CANNONDALE SUPER SIX EVO 3T STRADA, 3T EXPLORO, TREK TOP FUEL
RIDES CANNONDALE SLICE CHARGE PLUG
MOST-LISTENED SONG RIGHT NOW CAFÉ DEL MAR CHILLWAVE 2
MOST-LISTENED SONG RIGHT NOW THE DARKNESS LIVING EACH DAY BLIND
It’s that time of year again when the shiny summer racer gets packed away for hibernation and the reliable, heavyweight winter steed gets to explore the darkness of winter. There is always something nice about rolling out the winter bike, all suited and booted: mudguards, lights, more supplies, spares and tools to avoid any disaster and the good old excuse of steady miles. It’s at this time of year when we all plan to keep on keeping on, enjoying the good days and suffering the bad. I do enjoy the cold winter days, though I have to admit, as a true southern softie, I’d be on a plane to somewhere warm if I could. But while the commitments of real life kick in, I try to make my winter riding as comfortable as possible. To aid this, I rely on three simple things. The first is protective clothing. I see too many people out during the winter (and summer too for that matter) overdressed. The big negative to overdressing is overheating or, more to the point, sweating. Staying dry not just from the outside, but also the inside is key to your body being able to regulate its own temperature and, in the winter, stay warmer. Its natural – even if your extremities are cold, riding a bike is an effort and generally most of us sweat even under low exertion. We have to judge our effort level before heading out – the hard part of getting ready nowadays, with so much choice of great protective winter wear, is judgement. Weather, temperature, pace of ride (are your mates up for a fast one?) are all factors to consider. Then there are the types of protection – thermal, windproof, waterproof – and the rate at which they can wick sweat away. All this is logical, but at the same time easy to get wrong. Finding solutions is what we have worked on for some time with Castelli – and with the Alpha RoS Jersey and Jacket, now have some seriously impressive options. I tend to work hard on the bike and favour the jersey over the jacket unless it’s below 5C, simply because it’s not a full protective membrane and can therefore wick moisture buildup more quickly. But the key to these Alpha garments is their ability to micromanage your temperature range. Dual-layer front panelling enables you to open the Gore Windstopper membrane front panels to increase airflow when needed, while the inner thermal wicking layer prevents the wind hitting the chest and causing a fast chill. The outer layers are treated with DWR to give an almost full water protection. The jersey, meanwhile, handles a wide temperature range and, with the addition of a neck scarf, head and ear warmer, which can be rolled up and down as needed, it’s the perfect garment for 80% of UK winter weather. My second essential is having a good café on hand. Knowing your fastest route to one if the weather gets bad is helpful, and having an awareness of where decent coffee and cake can be found is essential! There’s no point hiding out for a while from the weather if the coffee and cake isn’t up to scratch, now is there? Finally, riding mates make the winter bearable. Hours and hours of steady miles are made so much more enjoyable if done with a friend. General banter on my ride leans on the side of childish, but for the mind, it’s perfect.
In September, I took a trip up to Yorkshire for the Sundowner Triathlon, a half-iron distance race, to test unknown fitness levels following an intensive training block devised by my new coach, or as I like to call her, her indoors. As the event’s title suggests, its USP is its lunchtime start and the race against the setting of the autumn sun. Held at Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, 10 miles from York, I was looking forward to a flat course that might result in an egoflattering – or, at least, not a crushingly disappointing – time. Race morning was cold and damp, grey skies threatening a downpour at any moment. A brief moment of optimism at the sight of a sign declaring the water at 16°C was dashed instantly when I waded into the small lake and realised this was complete bobbins: the water was as cold as I can remember swimming in. The 1,900m swim was a four-lapper, and it took most of those before I could get my face into the water without an ice-cream headache settling in. I tried not to feel too bad getting lapped by the guys tuning up for Kona, and wobbled from the freezing depths in 31:28 to layer up with Castelli in transition before taking on the cold 90km ride. Going from swim to bike generally induces some kind of mind-muddling Lycra mania. But factoring in the cold, I was not only completely unable to discern the effort of my legs (thank goodness for my INpower); it took me a good few seconds to realise a wasp was crawling over my leg, stinging me in a routine sort of way. Not the ideal start. My muscles warmed up just in time to seethe as poorer swimmers and better cheaters flashed by; first a pair riding wheel to wheel and then, worse, a pack of about eight riding two abreast. While the idea of cheating as an age-grouper genuinely baffles me, even more concerning was the complete disregard for road safety at roundabouts. Call me Alan Partridge, but all road users should be obeying the Highway Code and giving way to the right, and I certainly wasn’t going to assume priority to a 4x4 just because I was in a race. This encounter prompted my max power for the ride, which was achieved when passive-aggressive sprinting to re-overtake a line of riders with less developed self-preservation instincts. I got back into transition in 2:44, which was bob-on for my race plan. But I’d lost a fair few places meaning there’d be time to make up on the run to go subfive hours – which was why leaving my race nutrition in transition was such a stupid move. This schoolboy error haunted me during the half marathon when my batteries ran low between cups of cheap cola, but I persevered through the bit of my brain nagging me to stop – and pushed on through cramp towards the end to overtake a few of the cheaters from earlier. Posting a 1:35:28 run split – just about my fastest over the distance in a tri – saw me home in 4:55:54 for eighth in my, admittedly small, age-group. It felt amazing to cross the line in my first tri for over a year, but even better to stretch the cramp out, get warmed up again and give myself a few days of carte blanche eating. In fact, getting through that third box of French fancies might have been more of a challenge for body and mind than the race itself.
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F I NA L T HOU G H T Is 1x the future? My answer is a wholehearted ‘Yes’, but not really in the way most people think. When speaking with people about 1x on road bikes, I often get the remark that 1x11 just doesn’t give them small enough steps between the gears. While this problem becomes much smaller with 3T’s 9-32 cassette, I don’t disagree that for some people, in some situations, 1x11 is a compromise. But I would argue two things: 1) Every bike is a compromise, the only difference with bikes like the 3T Strada is that the compromise is very visible. But running 2x with a front derailleur sticking in the wind on a course where you rarely use the inner ring is also a compromise. We just never look at it that way because ‘it’s always been like that’. And of course, it is my role as a designer to always look at it that way. 2) If you don’t like 1x11, don’t hold your breath about drivetrain makers switching the one back to two. There will be a lot more effort on changing the 11 to 12, 13 or 14 until everybody is happy. That’s why I think 1x will be the future, not because 1x11 is perfect for everybody all the time, but because 1x12 or 1x13 are coming and eventually it will work perfectly for all. But if you’ll allow me a final thought in my final thought, let’s just stop arguing about 1x, disc brakes and other technical changes. Instead let’s just ride our bikes – with any gearing and brake system – and enjoy the most fantastic sport in the world.
GE RARD VRO OMEN
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Issue 26 of Incycle, Saddleback’s in-house magazine, is packed with the latest from the world of road and mountain biking! As well as plen...