Showing all posts tagged cycling:

Cycling Team Sprint - Winning Margins

I thought after last night’s stunning win by Team GB in the team sprint at Rio 2016 that I would do a little calculation for future reference.

The winning time was 42.440 seconds and that was to complete three laps of the 250 metre Olympic Velodrome. That works out at roughly 63.618 kilometres per hour, or 17.67 metres per second.

17.67 metres per second means that the rider is travelling 1.767 metres in one tenth of a second and that is a pretty close approximation to the length of an average bike. So, to win by “only" one tenth of a second you are a full bike length ahead of your closest rival.

To put that into perspective let’s imagine that a team was beaten by a margin of two seconds, they would, in distance terms, be 20 x 1.767 = 35 METRES behind the winners!

Indoor Cycling - My Mini Studio

I have been intending for some time to set up a decent home indoor training setup which I could also use to ride with others and which would allow Lorena and I to train together with each rider riding at an intensity scaled to their own FTP. Indoor training alone all the time can get pretty tedious and I reckoned this would be a good setup to have in place before the winter arrives.

I have finally got it all sorted out and I now have two CompuTrainers and a VELOtron installed in my partitioned off single garage, I needed to keep some space to store the gardening gear so I couldn’t use up the whole garage!

I will primarily be running the ErgVideo and PerfPRO Studio systems both of which are excellent platforms and I might make the occasional foray onto Zwift Island for a change of scene.

The floor space in the MiniStudio is only 2.5x3.5m so it’s been quite a challenge to get three riding stations, ventilation etc. in there but all in all it’s worked out really well and I think it’s going to transform my training. As you will see in the video I have various items of testing equipment available and I can perform a pretty wide range of basic tests, certainly enough valuable data to set most riders on the right track in terms of their training.

I reckon if I put my mind to it I could run an indoor training camp!

“Vitesse” or “Vince” - Make Your Mind Up Lance!

Using this Kindle Paperwhite has proved to be a much more effective and critical way of reading books than my previous traditional method. It's been excellent for uncovering points I'd previously failed to observe and to made it easy to go back to them to cross-check previous passages.

Re-reading Lance Armstrong's two books "It's Not About The Bike" and "Every Second Counts" I've noticed several "inconsistencies" which people might find of interest. The first of these, in "Every Second Counts" is more amusing than anything and refers to the ascent of Mt Ventoux, here is the passage:

"Ventoux was the hardest climb of that year’s Tour, or any other: just 14 miles from the finish line we’d be at barely 900 feet above sea level, but by the end we’d be at 16,000 feet". Read more at location 653.

16,000 feet! Mt Ventoux is 1912m high, that's 6,272 feet, I'm sure this was a simple error rather than an exaggeration!

However, there are two very different accounts of the encounter between Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong on Mount Ventoux in the two books.

In "It's Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life" by Lance Armstrong this is what Lance Armstrong claims to have said to Marco Pantani:

As I joined him, I said to him, “Vitesse, vitesse!" meaning to encourage him. But he thought I was trying to provoke him. Read more at location 4322. Lance Armstrong also claims in this book to have decided not to contest the stage finish "as the finish line came into view".

In "Every Second Counts" by Lance Armstrong this is what Lance Armstrong claims to have said to Marco Pantani:

As I did (joined him), I turned and spoke to him. “Vince!" I said, in my poor Italian. Meaning, “Come on, come with me." I meant to urge him on, to invite him to ride with me, because I intended to help him to the finish line as the stage winner. Read more at location 665. Lance Armstrong claims in this book to have said this "with roughly three miles to go" - very different from the previous statement about deciding not to contest the stage as the finish line came into view.

But Pantani misinterpreted me. He thought I said, “Vitesse," meaning, “hurry up." It was a matter of interpretation: “vitesse" was an insult, as if I was telling him he was riding too slowly, and to get out of my way. He thought I was antagonizing him. Read more at location 678

Hmm... "vitesse" was an insult but that's what you claimed to actually say, twice, in your first book!

I guess we will never know what was actually said but these are startlingly different records, from Lance Armstrong, about what was said and when the decision to "gift" the stage was made. One can't help but wonder whether the version in the second book (Every Second Counts) was manipulated to better suit the impression he wanted to give. One thing I do know, if this kind of alteration of the facts happened in a murder trial the police and the lawyers would have a field day!

It’s Not About The Bike - Lance Armstrong

I recently started using an Amazon Kindle and decided to re-read some stuff I’ve read in the past. There are a number of excellent features including bookmarking etc. but I particularly like the feature which allows you to highlight passages which are of interest. Here are some from a recent read, I was particularly interested in the way he dealt with the doping issue, this guy really did seem to believe his own untruths. I have left in the Kindle book location data so that anyone who wishes to can review these passages in context.

It's Not About The Bike:
My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong
You have 21 highlighted passages
You have 4 notes
Last annotated on June 22, 2015

But I’m not here to make polite conversation. I want to tell the truth. Read more at location 53. Note: Blimey, even right at the beginning of the first book he was telling a pack of lies.

Austin has a lot of ragweed and pollen, and no matter how tortured I am, I can’t take medication because of the strict doping regulations in cycling. I have to suffer through it. Read more at location 147 Note: You know, in the early days I actually think he may have believed some of the stuff he was spouting!

“Make every obstacle an opportunity." Read more at location 267 •

My early impression of organized religion was that it was for hypocrites. Read more at location 329 •

They might not have known it, but that’s what they were: uniforms. Same pants, same boots, same belts, same wallets, same caps. It was total conformity, and everything I was against. Read more at location 536 •

Professional cycling was going to be a lot harder than I’d thought; the pace was faster, the terrain tougher, the competition more fit than I ever imagined. Read more at location 790 •

The Tour is not just a bike race, not at all. It is a test. It tests you physically, it tests you mentally, and it even tests you morally. Read more at location 1081 Note: I guess if that was how Lance was thinking we have to conclude that he failed the test.

There was an odd commonality in the language of cancer and the language of cycling. They were both about blood. In cycling, one way of cheating is to take a drug that boosts your red bloodcell count. Read more at location 1378 •

Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. Read more at location 1749 •

Ironically, I was given a red blood cell booster called Epogen (EPO). In any other situation, taking EPO would get me in trouble with the International Cycling Union and the International Olympic Committee, because it’s considered performance-enhancing. But in my case, the EPO was hardly that. It was the only thing that kept me alive. Read more at location 1986 •

But before Paul got home, Stacy went into a nursing home for a few days. A group of us went to visit her there, Bill, me, and my mom, and we found her in an awful, crowded facility with barely enough nurses to go around. Stacy said, “I’m in pain. I ring the bell in the night and they don’t bring me my pain medicine." I was horrified. I said, “Stacy, this is the deal. We’re going to pack up your shit, and we’re going to check you out of here. You’re going to go home, and I’m going to hire you a full-time nurse." A nursing-home official said, “You can’t check her out." “She’s fucking leaving," I said. “Now." I told Bill, “Back the car up. Open the door." And we were gone. Stacy spent her last few weeks at home. Read more at location 2556 •

Kik just said, “You know, I would rather have one year of wonderful than seventy years of mediocre. That’s how I feel about it. Life’s an unknown. You don’t know. Nobody knows." Read more at location 2821 •

Doping is an unfortunate fact of life in cycling, or any other endurance sport for that matter. Inevitably, some teams and riders feel it’s like nuclear weapons—that they have to do it to stay competitive within the peloton. I never felt that way, and certainly after chemo the idea of putting anything foreign in my body was especially repulsive. Overall, I had extremely mixed feelings about the 1998 Tour: I sympathized with the riders caught in the firestorm, some of whom I knew well, but I also felt the Tour would be a more fair event from then on. Read more at location 3139 Note: It really did take a special kind of liar to write this stuff and to think he would get away with it.

Something different fueled me now—psychologically, physically, and emotionally—and that something was the Tour de France. Read more at location 3382 •

I geeked out. I tackled the problem of the Tour as if I were in math class, science class, chemistry class, and nutrition class, all rolled into one. Read more at location 3419 •

In one kilometer I made up 21 seconds. I was now just 11 seconds back of the leaders. It was strange, but I still didn’t feel a thing. It was . . . effortless. Read more at location 3694 •

But the drugs tests became my best friend, because they proved I was clean. I had been tested and checked, and retested. Read more at location 3797 •

“I have been on my deathbed, and I am not stupid," I said. Everyone knew that use of EPO and steroids by healthy people can cause blood disorders and strokes. Read more at location 3847 •

There’s nothing to find . . . and once everyone has done their due diligence and realizes they need to be professional and can’t print a lot of crap, they’ll realize they’re dealing with a clean guy." Read more at location 3851 •

If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way." Read more at location 4028 •

The day began the same for all 180 riders: with a blood test. In the start area, I heard that three riders had been disqualified because their blood hematocrit levels were too high, so already there was a new doping story. I was getting tired of the subject. Read more at location 4248 •

Man vs Toaster

By any stretch of the imagination this is an impressive video clip, I just thought it was worth keeping a record of it rather than just forgetting it as soon as I had watched it. I can only begin to imagine the training that this guy has put in over the years to be able to make such great toast!

The Backwards Brain Bicycle

I’m normally pretty sceptical about watching these things but I thought this was absolutely excellent. It does start to explain why it really is harder to learn things as you get older, learn whilst you are young folks!

Doping & The Biological Passport - Quo Vadis

It certainly seems that the tool which many had such high hopes for may not be all that we thought it might be after all. Can we ever watch sport these days and truly believe what we are seeing?

Original Article URL:

A report on television station France 2 has demonstrated how the UCI Biological Passport can be circumvented by the use of micro-doses of EPO, Human Growth Hormone, blood transfusions and corticosteroids. As part of a study carried out by Pierre Sallet of the Athletes for Transparency organisation with the blessing of the World Anti-Doping Agency, eight athletes were doped under supervision for a period of 29 days. The process was documented by France 2's sports magazine show Stade 2 on Sunday evening.

The eight amateur athletes and triathletes underwent VO2 max testing before commencing their doping programme, as well as performing a time trial on a static bike and being timed on a 3,000-metre run. After a month of micro-dosing of EPO and the other substances, the tests were repeated, with significant improvements in performance noted.

In the VO2 max test, an average improvement of 6.1% was recorded, while an average gain of 2.1% was reported in the 14km static bike time trial. In the 3,000-metres run, there was an average improvement of 2.8%.

"It's another planet, it's not human," said one participant, amateur runner Guillaume Antonietti. "And it's very worrying when you think we only took micro-doses."

Analysis of the blood profiles of the eight athletes who took part in the experiment demonstrated that they would not have fallen foul of the biological passport's parameters. As France 2's report concluded, the experiment demonstrates that "a clean passport is not necessarily the passport of a clean athlete."

A number of riders, including Europcar's Pierre Rolland and Arnaud Démare of FDJ, responded to the report on Twitter. "A discouraging, baffling report, biological passport useless or unusable! Bravo!" Rolland wrote.

"Impressive report on Stade2," Démare wrote. "Let's not forget that the fight against doping must be worldwide! The biological passport isn't enough…"

The WADA Position:

Original Article URL:

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) blasted the French television station Stade 2 for using what it termed “human guinea pigs" for a report that showed how micro-dosing with EPO could boost performance and foil the biological passport anti-doping system.

“WADA is aware of the television report that aired on French television recently," read the WADA statement. “We would like to clarify that while we did make the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) software available, we certainly did not ‘bless’ or endorse the study, as has been suggested."

Stade 2 subjected eight volunteers to a monthlong course of small EPO doses, which resulted in an average 6.1-percent increase in VO2 max. The program then demonstrated that the athletes would not have tripped any alarms in the bio-passport system, implying that top professionals may be using this doping method to surreptitiously enhance performance.

WADA said that the results of this report were not scientifically proven.

“In commenting on any study, it is first important that the findings are properly peer reviewed and published," it said. “This has not yet taken place with this study.

“Furthermore, WADA does not ever recommend athletes take part as ‘human guinea pigs’ in a study in which they would be subjected to taking performance-enhancing drugs."

A 2011 study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology revealed similar findings to those reported in the French TV experiment — a 10 percent increase in total hemoglobin mass among 10 subjects. A test, performed afterward using the biological passport parameters, did not flag any of the subjects’ samples as suspicious.

Training Camp Dos & Don’ts 08

Pack your favourite energy drink/ gels/ bars and take them to camp with you, says performance researcher Andrew Hamilton, BSc Hons MRSC ACSM. “Having access to a tried and tested top-up source of energy is a great asset, especially when you’re far away from home and churning out the miles."

Spread your riding out sensibly across the camp, says Oli Roberts, coach at “Set a plan for the total time riding, how hard you want to ride and roughly how long you want to spend riding per day before you go. Remember that while the camp will give you the chance to ride more and rest more to cope with the load, you’re still working with the fitness you have rather than what you wish you had. I like to plan on a three-day rotation: medium length ride with quality work, longer steadier endurance ride, then easy day or day off."

Fall into the mega-ride suffer-fest trap, cautions coach Oli Roberts from “I usually set a maximum ride duration of 5hrs in a long camp and a minimum intensity around 30W below lactate threshold (except on easy days). There can be a place for much longer and easier riding but in most cases backing up sensible endurance training around LT is a much better use of time."

Training Camp Dos & Don’ts 07

Choose a coached camp if you want to seriously improve your riding, says Dave LeGrys of Legro’s Sportive Camps, “Getting in the miles is often a key goal, but on a coached camp you can learn more about nutrition and training and improve your skills, making you a faster rider. The learning benefits from this will last longer than your tan."

Overdo it on the coffee stops, says Emma Barraclough, senior sports nutritionist for Science in Sport. “European coffee can be much stronger than that in the UK. High caffeine intake can irritate your gut if you’re enjoying multiple coffee stops on consecutive days. Try decaf or teas instead and keep the stress on your gut lower."

Training Camp Dos & Don’ts 06

Remember to take the time to sample some of the local culture or take in the scenery. While it is almost all about the bike, it will be more satisfying if you experience your surroundings.

Go mad at the buffet. OK, it isn’t about weight loss but neither is it an excuse to eat everything in sight. Buffets are the worst as you can keep going back for more. Don’t, and choose wisely.