- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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Decide exactly what you want to get out of your cycling so that you can find form in the most time-efficient way possible.
If you only ride sportives you don't necessarily need to spend time in the gym working with weights; in fact many riders can find top form just by riding a bike, which is exactly the way we like it.
Unlike other sports, particularly running, training on the bike is great fun. Running most definitely is not. It's just so boring, you don't get to go anywhere or see anything, not compared to bike riding.
It really is exercise for the sake of exercise and there's absolutely no fun in that.
The great thing about cycling is that fitness is more of an accidental by-product of being in the saddle than a deliberate act. It's why we all love bike riding. Most of us would do it anyway without any health benefits, so the fact that we will lose a few pounds in the process is an added bonus.
It's not perfect training practice, but you even stop for tea and cake.
Try doing that when you're out for a run!Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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Sportives continue to go from strength to strength with some 43 major events listed for May. In this week's Cycling Weekly magazine (April 22) we have printed full up-to-the-minute listings for the month ahead, including all the latest additions and alterations to the calendar.
Two of the highlights, the Fred Whitton Challenge on May 9 and the Etape Caledonia the following week, are both sold out, but there are still spaces for the Pearson 150 on May 23.
This new event celebrates one and a half centuries of the famous Surrey bike shop with a choice of 150- or 75-kilometre rides around the Surrey and Sussex lanes to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital.
Expect a demanding day in the saddle with many climbs including Ditchling Beacon, which has featured in many major bike races and the annual London to Brighton bike ride.
Still looking for inspiration? Then try the Verenti Cornwall Tor on May 15 with the 100-mile version the only one-day coast-to-coast sportive in the country. There are also 72- and 44-mile versions of this UCI-sanctioned event, which is described as 'a seriously tough cycling challenge'.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly
Cycling Weekly's online cyclo-sportive calendar
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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What a difference a week makes. At Easter I definitely still needed my thermal jacket and bib tights, even gloves, but just three days later it's possible to shed just as many layers.
It's been a very long wait. I can't remember such a prolonged and consistently cold winter since I've been riding, but now, at last, it's time to dig out those short-sleeve jerseys and arm warmers.
Brilliant sunshine and 16 degrees saw a big turnout for last week's office lunchtime ride, though many of us didn't quite get the dress code right, with a severe case of overheating on the first climb. After that we resembled a hunchback convention, with everyone cramming their gilets into back pockets.
The good weather is great motivation: I've spent the last few days looking for sportives to enter and planning other rides. I've also taken the most unusual step of actually cleaning my bike. When the lanes are covered in muck, I really can't see the point. All that hard work and within a few miles your bike is as bad as ever.
By putting on new bar tape and tyres, I'm probably tempting fate, but I'm determined to get the most from this pleasant spell of weather.Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly
- Posted by Emma Silversides
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The Belgian sports media has so much to sink its teeth into right now; the newspaper supplements are screaming football play-offs, Clijsters' comeback and of course ‘wielergekken'.
The latter refers to people who are simply crazy about cycling. With the Spring Classics in full swing the public are fully occupied with following the form of the top favourites, building their Megabike teams (think fantasy football league but for cycling) and planning their weekends around the crucial race viewing hours; 80% of Belgians viewed the Ronde last weekend!
Of course every true Belgian stands behind a Belgian rider, be it Boonen, Devolder, Roelandts or another, but that is not to say that there is no respect or support for the other contenders; in fact it is quite the opposite.
After the Schelderprijs on Wednesday Cancellera attended his supporters' ‘feest' in Koningshooikt where his Flanders fan club is based; the street was shut and the party warmly welcomed the enthusiastic Belgian media.
He is not alone though, many riders are adopted by the Belgians through sheer respect and admiration for their commitment, dedication and resulting top performances. Our own Adam Blythe has been a recent media sensation following his outstanding domestique performances for Gilbert; maybe soon he will have a swelling supporters club!
It is true that everyone loves a winner- the fickle media more so than anyone else, they are the first to complain about the current Belgian victory drought, closely followed by the ex-pros. But the supporters stand by their ‘man' through the bad times too. It seems that the accessibility of the sport means that the athletes are not raised on a pedestal but viewed as human beings by the majority of the public. You can be forgiven for being a ‘geek' if you adopt such a mentality when selecting your ‘idol'!
Emma is a professional cyclist for the Red Sun team in Belgium
- Posted by Simon Richardson
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If there's a better weekend for cycling fans than the one we just had I'm yet to be told about it.
Riding the route of a pro race one day and then watching the real event the next isn't unique in the world of cycling but there's something about the atmosphere in Flanders on the first weekend of April that is unrivalled anywhere else.
On Saturday morning I joined four colleagues to ride the 150km route of the Tour of Flanders sportive. We could have done the full route, but De Ronde is about the climbs, not the 100 flat kilometres before them.
Our ride was regularly interrupted by downpours, blocked roads (caused by so many cyclists) and technical mishaps, but it mattered not. Riding 14 of the 15 climbs of Flanders - and the sections of cobbles in between - is a great day out.
These roads are narrow, twisty, dirty and dangerous - but great fun to ride. And watching the pros race over them the following day makes it even more special.
And of course all this goes on just 200km from our shores, which is why it seemed like every other car driving back to Calais on Sunday night had bikes on
the back. Roll on Roubaix.
Simon Richardson is deputy editor of Cycling Weekly