The Cyclefit Guide to Surviving Christmas

How do you stay in shape and focussed without become an Xmas Grinch?

Posted by Philip Cavell

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I hope they are not breaking the 5-degree rule?

Cyclefit's Xmas Tips

  1. The five-degree on-road rule - It used to be 3-degrees but has been recently inflated to 5. Why? Because 3-degrees at home can still get you to freezing and ice out in the remote hills. Every time there is a cold spell we hear the tales and see the broken bikes and bones. If it is below 5-degrees our strong advice is to ride: indoors, off-road or not at all. Break this rule at your peril. It catches out the most experienced and best equipped riders - Midlife Cyclist Lecturer Dr David Hulse was recently caught out....ahem.
  2. Alcohol - Let's have an adult conversation. Nobody likes a glass or two of red wine more than me Barna and Jules. The Midlife Cyclist Series is predicated on it. But you should know as an athlete what alcohol will do to your riding training - here is what we think you should know (feel free to skip to point 3 if you want to remain in denial)
    * The body on average will metabolise one unit of alcohol per hour. That means one hour for a shot of spirits, two hours for a pint of beer and surprisingly three hours for a large glass of red-wine (preferably Barolo).
    *
    Alcohol is not digested in the same way as other foods and similarly it is processed in a complex and unique way. The body treats alcohol as a toxin so will process it as a fuel source preferentially over other fuel sources - fat, sugars, carbs etc. hence the cliche is somewhat true, that alcohol prevents your body’s burning fat on steady state rides. Leaving aside the notions of riding under the influence of alcohol - how you incorporate drinking, recovery and riding does need to be given a thought.
    *
    There is some research that fine motor control is impaired, even after blood/alcohol levels have normalised
    *
    Unlike other food sources, alcohol can be absorbed directly from your stomach into your bloodstream. The cliche to make sure you eat before or during eating is a good one. As is the other homily to drink a small glass of water for every unit of alcohol. Sorry to nag. Do as I say, not as I do.
  3. It's all about your equipment - The days of a winter bike being an old ferrous Peugeot are thankfully long gone. Our internal homily at Cyclefit is "put your money where the big miles are" - and for us that means equipment that will make the cold/wet winter: safer, more comfortable and more fun. In priority order for us that means -
    28c tyres as a minimum, 32's if you can fit them in - dropped down commensurate with the temperature. if you ride at 100 psi in the summer don't be shy dropping down to 75psi on cold days.
    Big tyres = more grip
    , more comfort, more safety margin.
    Disc brakes are here now. They are better, cleaner, more predictable and allow fitment of bigger tyres.
    Rim brakes hit peak innovation about two years ago - I discuss the merits and demerits of emergent technology and disc-brakes in a recent Journal.
  4. Takes a few days off - Or at least don't talk about your FTP or power-numbers over xmas lunch. Nobody will be interested. Most of the pro cyclists we work with take a month off to let their body's recover. They know that hard training and racing takes the body out of equilibrium, that can only be re-calibrated by a combination of nutrition and quality rest.
  5. A Change is as good as a rest - A few days or even a week off training will have virtually no negative effect on performance. This period of enforced rest maybe a good opportunity to start a strength training instead of endurance training on the bike. All the speakers from The Midlife Cyclist Series I seemed to agree that focussing on weights/gym became exponentially more crucial past 50. A good place to start is the exercises featured in Stronger, faster Older - Alex and Tony's Midlife lecture from Jan 2018.
  6. Don't enter an Iron-Man in a pub - And if you do. Recant over the inevitable Bloody Mary. It's okay. Otherwise it will dominate your life. If you do, we will see you January 3rd and then regularly throughout the year.
  7. Set realistic goals - Setting goals now is a great way to visualise the arc of the year. Make it aspirational but also achievable. We are riding 2019 Etape du Tour. Which means that we have 26 short weeks to be in prime shape after Boxing Day!
  8. Internal audit - Xmas and new year are a great time of enforced re-set. Think about what is holding you back from meeting your goals - is it that knee niggle you have been ignoring, your ten year old bike, persistent saddle-sores? Come in for a coffee with Phil or Jules in the New Year and we can help you plan for success. Bike-fitting has evolved and changed hugely in the last six years. If your last Cyclefit was a few years ago you are probably missing out on the most recent research and technology!

About the author

Philip Cavell, Co-founder

Co-founder, bike fitter and bike designer. Phil rides a Seven titanium disc bike. He likes dogs and fine wine.

View other posts by Philip Cavell

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