just for the music
In the crosshairs brings us a look at the 2016 Hilly Billy Roubaix.
I like the look of these but not got the cash to splash ….. well i do but i cant bring myself to
The first specific pant for gravel race or rides.
When riding on the gravel, you need to have the comfort of a free-ride short combined with the fit of a bib short. In and out of the saddle challenging the dirty roads but comfortable when riding on the asphalt. The Kyoto gravel pants is the perfect short for this. You can use it with or without a bib short layered underneath for additional comfort. Its slim fit ensures the rider the perfect match between aerodynamic needs and comfort during long rides, preventing the pant from snagging into the bicycle complex parts.
• Performance fabric to wick away sweat and help keep you dry and comfortable
• Elastic waist with front draw cord for a snug, adjustable fit
• Elastic inseam gusset to prevent pad area scratch
• Side pockets and back zip bonded pocket for item storage
• Vented hem for range of motion
• Reflective elements remain visible in dark riding conditions
• Slim Fit for performance
Want to flatten any hill you encounter?
For the UK’s road racers, early autumn signals the start of a kind of silly season. Throughout September and October, you’ll ﬁnd cyclists searching out two-mile-long virtual cliff faces so they can take part in hill climbs – short, sharp and painful uphill time trials.
For many of us, just the idea of voluntarily ﬁnding a mile or two at 25 percent and riding up it as fast as possible makes lungs burn and gives a sicky taste in the mouth, but even if climbing makes up just part of your ride rather than the entire ride the training tips below will help you ascend with conﬁdence.
Sustain your cadence
With a focus on cadence – the speed at which you spin your pedals – Lance Armstrong has perhaps done more for climbing as a discipline than any other rider. Using lower gears and a higher cadence is the single most important rule in climbing according to Matt Clinton, a former UK hill climbing champion who competed on a singlespeed.
“Every racing climb I’ve won has been on a single, ﬁxed gear,” says Clinton, “but you need a race without any downhills otherwise you’ll be left with dust in your eyes. There isn’t that same mentality anymore about going for big gears and bragging about tackling climbs in your top ring. It’s much more efﬁcient to twiddle your way up a hill rather than grinding and zig-zagging your way up.”
On longer climbs you should always aim to spin smaller gears from the saddle says Guy Andrews, author of The Cyclist’s Training Manual. “This doesn’t mean continuously spinning at 120rpm like Armstrong,” he says, “but a steady cadence of around 85-95rpm in a gear that feels relatively easy.
“The key is to be able to sustain your cadence and level of effort for the entire duration of the climb by adjusting your gears to suit the gradient – and key to that is doing some homework about the climb so you know its length and gradient, and can judge the level of effort you can realistically sustain.”
If you do have to get out of the saddle – to overcome a gradient change or to ease aching muscles, especially on longer climbs – Andrews says you should keep pressure on the pedals and rise up a gear to maintain speed.
Stay in your saddle
Although there may be times when you need to stand, sitting down is a more efﬁcient way to climb than standing up says Stuart Dangerﬁeld, who won the National Hill Climb Championships ﬁve times in the 1990s.
Standing up wastes energy, he says, because you’re having to support your body weight as well as propelling yourself skywards. “If you’re always getting out of your saddle on climbs it’s a sign that you’re gearing’s wrong or you need to work on your power,” he says.
Dangerﬁeld’s view is supported by the results of separate studies carried out by the University of Franche-Comté in France and Utah State University in the US. The French researchers found that standing was less efﬁcient – you use more oxygen – when intensity is lower than 75 percent VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can take in and use during exercise].
The Americans reported that on a five percent incline sitting down is 3.7 percent faster than standing at a high intensity power output of 400W. However, the US study went on to report that the speed difference between standing and sitting is negligible above an incline of 15 percent.
Richard Allen, author of Elite Performance: Cycling, agrees. “Standing up can rapidly eat into limited energy stores,” he says, “and cause you to suffer fatigue much earlier than would have otherwise been the case. But for group rides, going into oxygen debt can be worth it if it means staying with a fast-moving group and making signiﬁcant energy savings later on.”
Break a hill into manageable sections
“So much of climbing is psychological rather than physical,” says Jim Henderson, a ﬁve-time UK hill climbing champion (1998-2001 and 2003). “On longer rides particularly, it’s important to break a hill down into sections, to see it as a series of minor victories rather than get daunted by the scale of the whole ride.”
His advice is to play it out gradually, changing your focus on each bend, and to think about what’s going to happen 10 metres ahead, not over the next 10 miles. “One trick I’ve learned over the years,” he says, “is to count revs as I’m pedalling to stop my mind racing off and panicking, especially when it gets really steep. It keeps you motivated at the same time as focusing on something genuinely important.”
Focusing too far into the future can also shred your nerves. Jamie Edwards, sports psychologist and founder of elite sports consultancy Trained Brain, says: “The weight of the task in front of you makes you nervous, burning huge amounts of precious glycogen and taking you away from the calm zone where elite cyclists perform best. You’re focusing too far ahead, asking yourself too many ‘what ifs’ rather than focusing on the present.”
To combat nerves, practise structured ‘belly breathing’; while holding the brake hoods with a wide grip to open your chest for better air intake, breathe in through your nose to a count of three, pause, then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
“It’s a similar principle to using a paper bag for panic attacks,” explains Edwards. “The longer breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system and actually slow down your heart rate which helps you develop a more normal breathing pattern, reducing anxiety.” Focusing on the counting helps keep your mind in the here and now.
Work on your power output
Too many riders think it’s impossible to get the required training in to be a good hill climber if they either don’t live near a major mountain range or have a full time job. Not James Dobbin, National Hill Climbing Champ in ’06 and ’07, who commutes on a far-from-mountainous route between Bath and Bristol in the south west of England every working day.
“It’s about power output,” he says, “and that can be achieved on the ﬂat too, if you put your mind to it. I do short, intense intervals on my daily commute from Bath to Bristol, 30 seconds at over 30mph, ease off, then repeat. And I get to know my local hills and know what time I should be aiming for – it’s like a personal VO2 max test.
“When it’s dark I do what all half serious cyclists do and get on my turbo trainer, but again, I focus more on intensity than counting hours or miles in the saddle.”
Elite cycling trainer Andy Wadsworth suggests jump squats for improving your power output off the bike. “The jump squat combines the explosive strength of plyometric exercises with the strength and control of the power lifts,” he says.
Here’s how: using a pair of dumb-bells that add up to about 30 percent of the weight you can squat one time, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumb-bells at arm’s length next to your thighs, your palms facing each other.
With your chest out and your shoulders back, assume a squat position by drawing your hips back and bending your knees so that your legs form a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, jump explosively while exhaling fully to straighten out your body up and into the air.
Keep your arms by your side, lifting the dumb-bells as you rise. On your descent, inhale and draw your hips back while bending your knees to softly land into the starting position.
“Pause only momentarily before you begin your next jump to get your muscles ﬁring as quickly as possible,” says Wadsworth. Try ﬁve to eight jumps in a row, and concentrate on achieving maximum height in each jump, landing as softly as possible.
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found that athletes who did such jump squats improved their vertical leap height by 17 percent in just eight weeks – their 20m sprint times improved by similar amounts.
“What amazed me with how well Bradley Wiggins did in [the 2009] Tour de France is his power-to-weight ratio, which is what it’s all about,” says Chris Boardman, four-time UK hillclimbing champ. “Brad obviously had the power from his track work, so he must have lost a whole load of weight to get the results he did, especially in the hills.”
Basically, Boardman says, you have to improve one or the other to better your performance – if you’ve got a couple of spare stones to lose, you’re much better off dieting or even spending some cash on a personal trainer than splashing it on a lighter bike, which will only shave grams off your total weight.
“I’m naturally quite skinny,” he says, “so I work on my power with interval training, but most regular sportiveriders probably need a bit of both. It sounds obvious, but think how much you spend on slightly lighter components without looking at your body.”
Take a 200lb (90kg), 5ft 10in cyclist – applying 200 watts of power on a ﬂat course, he or she will do about 20mph. If they dropped their weight to 160lb (73kg) and applied the same power to the pedals, their speed would increase to 21mph. Transfer that situation to a 10 percent hill and applying the same power, the cyclist would up their speed from 4.2mph to 5.1mph.
“The key to any weight loss has to be gradual and healthy,” says Anita Bean, author of Food For Fitness. Try incorporating gradual changes to your diet. Start by increasing your intake of nuts – 70 almonds per day, to be exact. That’s the number that people in a City of Hope National Medical Centre, California experiment ate daily for six months to drop eight per cent of their body weight.
“They’re a nutrient-dense food with healthy monounsaturated fat, protein and ﬁbre, and make you feel full,” says Bean. Keep a bowl on your desk and grab a handful when you’re feeling peckish – you’ll be less likely to overeat at meals or to snack on rubbish. And don’t forget to drink. “The worry with hill climbers is they might not fully hydrate prior to a race,” says Bean, “which could literally be fatal.”
Swapping a steady slog for intervals will shed pounds too, say Australian researchers at the University of New South Wales. Over 15 weeks, men who cycled hard for eight seconds then lightly for 12 seconds for 20 minutes, three times a week, lost 6lb – three times more than those who exercised at a continuous pace for 40 minutes. This perfect ratio eats into glycogen energy reserves faster while allowing for aerobic recovery.
So there you have it: spin, sit, sprint, diet… and you’ll ﬂy up those hills.
The Teravail Galena tires meet the crushed limestone gravel of the infamous Almanzo route.
Blood pudding, Guinness and a little ‘Luck of the Irish’.
For this installment of the Dew Files we sent our intrepid wanderer to Ireland for a St Patrick’s day exploit. Rather than letting Dew loose to partake in the revelry and libations in Dublin, we put him on a fully loaded Sutra LTD to explore the quiet and picturesque backdrop of the Emerald Isle far from the Blarney Stone kissing tourists. So follow along with Dew on his trip through a land frozen in time, a land with stone walls that checker the hillside, sheep that run wild, dramatic cliffs and single lane gravel “roads” that disappear over the rolling countryside. You’ll quickly discover that Ireland truly delivers the right amount of ‘magic’ for a great bikepacking adventure.
Fast forward to modern times. The cycling industry is enamored with the outdoors. Bikepacking, touring, bicycle camping and S24 rides are all the rage. Hell, even Adventure Cycling is celebrating the Bikecentennial this year! All the brands have taken a stab at designing the best-suited bike for the aforementioned activities. While Specialized wasn’t by any means the first to the party in terms of “adventure bicycles,” they have staked their claim to the movement.
A Thousand Decisions Properly Made
The original marketing of the 1980’s Sequoia boasted the quote “A thousand decisions properly made.” This became the mantra for Erik, now the Sequoia’s third designer, following Tim Neenan and Jim Merz. Erik knew to make a bike that would ride light on its feet like brevets and similar races required, he’d have to start with the tubing. The Sequoia uses custom drawn tubing for each frame size, from 50cm to 61cm and it shows. There’s also a custom fork, with rack, fender and cargo cage mounts, as well as a new headset (that black block under the head tube) If you lift the bike up, it feels lighter than the AWOL. How light? I’m not sure exactly, since we didn’t have time to weigh them this weekend.
Once the tubing was dialed in, so to say, Erik looked at where the industry was heading. Thru axles, flat mounts, internal routing, and wide range 1x drivetrain systems had taken over the drop bar market, making a bike like this almost as capable as a mountain bike in terms of gear range. The Cobble Gobbler post and its funky design is met at the cockpit with their new drop bar, which has 20mm rise, flair and a shallow drop. Erik even designed a new rim, the Cruzero. A wide, tubeless-ready rim with a classic style. There are rack and fender mounts, as well as braze ons for a third bottle cage. Other details include internal routing for generator lamps, clearance for a 45mm tire, and new thru-axle hubs. Oh and that black denim bar tape and saddle! Even the paint, called White Mountain, inspired from Erik’s venture into the White Mountains during an outing with Yonder Journal, was new to their catalog.
Riding the Juggernaut
While our ride got cut short, due to Erik’s wreck, I did get to spend a good amount of time on the Sequoia, which shares almost the same geometry as my Firefly. Off the bat, I could tell it was one of Erik’s designs, who likes to front-load his touring or camping bikes. In the size 58cm, it has a 72º head angle and a 73.3º seat angle with a 50mm rake and 65mm of trail. The tubing felt lively and the front end felt stiff. For a bike this old in legacy, you might even say it felt spry.
I like the 42mm tire platform on bikes like this. They’ll roll on the street just fine, thanks to the new 42mm Sawtooth tires who have the same rolling resistance as a 32mm tire of similar tread, and they’ll take on dirt with confidence-inspiring cornering. Unlike a lot of the “slick” tires of this size, the Sawtooth bites on loose corners, instead of skidding or sliding out. This coupled with the 65mm of bottom bracket drop, and a 430mm chainstay makes for a fast bike on the descent that’s stable yet responsive when you need it to be.
The most impressive feature of this bike is the fork. Thru-axle, internal routing, flat mount disc brakes, hidden fender mounts, drilled crown, cargo cage attachments and designed to carry a front load with rack mounts. All with around 50mm of clearance. This fork is what everyone has been asking the industry to make for some time now. I’ve even requested certain companies to make it out of frustration. Unfortunately, it won’t be available separately though. Why oh why!?
What Is It?
These days, the industry wants to label every drop bar bike with bigger tires a “gravel bike” and I’m sick of it. So what is the Sequoia? A road bike? Cross bike? Touring bike? Brevet bike? It is whatever you want it to be. If I owned one, I’d treat it like my Firefly. It’d go on bikepacking trips in Japan, or dirt rides in Los Angeles and everything in between. Logging miles on the road is also the norm for a machine like this. No one here in Los Angeles goes on “gravel rides,” we just ride all roads. Paved, deteriorated chipseal, fire, frontage and forest service roads. Our frames, tires and gearing are all designed around this type of riding and now, the Sequoia would fit right in next to my already solid stable. The Sequoia is a production bike, made overseas that has addressed what many custom framebuilders are being requested to build for their customers, at half the price.
It’ll come in various build kit options and pricing tiers and will hit stores in August. As built here, it’ll run $3,500 at the Expert model or $1,200 for a frameset. Base complete for $1,200 and Elite complete in between those. As for the tires, bars and bar tape, expect those to be in stock in August.