Cycling Training

What I felt as though I had to write a quick blog about cycling training. We all love our bikes, and part of riding is preparation. We clean our machines, buy good kit, spend money on stuff we don’t need. It is all part of the joy of cycling. However, do we really prepare ourselves to ride. Is our cycling training helping us to get better? Do we know what we are doing? I decided to find out, by joining a young local professional, who has been injured, at a cycling training session. I was enlightened.

Cycling Training

I have been riding for about 11 years. I started the sport late, when I came to live in this beautiful part of NW Spain that is Galicia. I fell in love with so many aspects of it. The incredible natural beauty , the wonderful Galician coastline, and decided that cycling was for me. So, where do you start. I bought a bike, rode it, and suffered like a pig. In Galicia we have many beautiful climbs, and when you have no clue about cycling training, it hurts. I learnt the hard way that I had no clue. I had to adapt my cycling training, to limit my pain, and increase my enjoyment levels. Only then could I really say that I was a cyclist. I thought that I knew a lot, but you can always learn more. 

Professional Cycling Training

So, after so many years, it was fascinating to spend four hours with a top coach, and a young pro. So thank you to Mario at OPTIAMIZA TRAINING and to Jake Wright for allowing me to sit in. What I saw both enlightening and fascinating. I, like many, believe that the key to cycling is a lot of kms and very few kgs. Yes, that is a big part of the package. However, without proper preparation that doesn’t involve either of those two, cycling training will not yield results. 

Core Stability and Breathing

Mario spent almost two hours illustrating exersices with just one goal. Increasing internal core strength. The internal abdominal muscles. He explained that all top cyclists have incredible internal core strength. This enables their legs to produce maximum power. Another half an hour was spent on just breathing exercises. How to breathe. Trying to eliminate diaphragmatic breathing, to maximise oxygen intake. Increasing resistance using skipping and jumping, to strengthen the calf muscle. The calf is the only muscle that is always used in cycling. Almost to wo, without one pedal stroke. NO bike, just floor exersise. It opened my eyes. Before we “saddle up”, we must prepare ourselves. I intend to do so this winter. I will be writing more on this subject throughout the darker months. 

A Vuelta Without Galicia

The Vuelta de España 2019 started on Saturday in that little piece of England called Torrevieja. Making its way up the Mediterranean coast, through the barren flatlands towards France. A time trial in Pau, which isn’t in Spain thrown in. Finally, in Stage 12, the race arrives in proper Spanish cycling country. However, this year is a Vuelta without Galicia. That is a real shame, as every time the Vuelta comes to Galicia, the crowds are huge. Also, the riders themselves are always enchanted by the routes, and the abundance of excellent cycling.

A Vuelta Without Galicia

The Vuelta seems to meander through unpopulated parts of Spain, across empty arid backdrops. And then a finish in the town that pays the most for the arrival. It really doesn’t promote the places that have cycling at their heart. When the Vuelta arrives in areas such as the Basque country, Asturias and Galicia, it comes alive. Unfortunately, these areas are not the wealthiest, so cannot afford to pay for the fiesta. And cycling suffers. Steve Cummings , the great English cyclist couldn´t believe what Galicia was like. Its abundance of mountain climbs , its constant undulations led him to say. “A flat stage with nearly 3000m accumulation. Never seen that before !”. And Carlton Kirby’s famous comment about Galicia. “It is like Cornwall with better food wand weather.”

Return in 2021 for Xacobeo

All of us in Galicia hope that we see the Vuelta back here in 2021. It is a Xacobeo year, when the national day of Spain, July 25th falls on a Sunday. Public funds are increased, as there is an influx of visitors to Santiago. They flock here to enjoy the Galician heritage, learn more about the Celtic roots of the region, and of course its natural beauty. And above all to experience the wonderful Galician gastronomy and hospitality. A Vuelta without Galicia is not a Vuelta at all.

Galician Cycling Experience

As we move towards the end of the cycling season, it is time to reflect on how the year has gone. How have visitors enjoyed their Galician cycling experience? What have been the salient points of visitors regarding their time here in GaliciaWell, I can only go by what they have said, and here is a summary of this year’s thoughts.

Galician Cycling Experience

The clearest point made by our visitors this year has been their enjoyment of the traffic free cycling that can be found here. Rider safety is paramount, and here in Galicia many rides will see more wild animals than cars. There are many roads with wide cycle lanes, and mountain roads that are rarely used nowadays by vehicles. The air quality here in Galicia is the best in Europe. Clean and fresh and straight off the Atlantic. 5000kms to the next land mass. Galicia’s outstanding natural beauty is second to none. For many visitors used to busy roads and copious traffic, a cycling holiday in Galicia  is the great antidote.

Post Cycling Experience

Cycling in Galicia is an absolute pleasure. There are many other parts of the world which are equally as good. What sets Galicia apart from these places? The answer is the post Galician cycling experience. This is a mixture of many different things. First and foremost is the Galician gastronomy. Whether you are a fan of Galician seafood , or its variety of home grown Galician meat products, there is something for everybody. And to wash it down with more home grown Galician wine is a pleasure. There are many Galician restaurants to choose from , and all at prices that cannot be beaten. In fact, many visitors were taken aback by how cheap this abundant quality is. It is all part of the Galician cycling experience. There is nowhere better in Europe to enjoy your bike. For your next cycling holiday in Spain, choose Galicia.

Strava Application Debate

Back in a blogpost at the end of last year I touched on the use of power meters and Strava. At the time I did not use either of them. Power meters I will return to in a later post. For now, let us concentrate on the Strava application debate. I am now on Strava, so some of my adventures can be seen here. So, what have been my initial thoughts on the Strava application debate.

Strava Application Debate

I can say that every visitor that we have had this year is on Strava, so they must be doing something right. I can see that Strava is a good social media platform for us cyclists. It has been a good way to keep in touch with new friends, so in that way I see it as a huge positive influence on cycling. Anything that unites us is good. Our visitors have enjoyed many aspects of Galicia. Above all the beautiful nature of Galicia, the numerous climbs available , and post ride, the incredible Galician gastronomy. Their Strava pages waxed lyrical about all aspects. That is a huge positive for us as a cycling holiday in Spain company.

Strava Downsides

So, it is clear what the upsides of Strava are on a social basis. However, there are downsides, and the biggest one, which almost eclipses everything is this. So many rides are now reduced to a series of races. Cyclists now check the wind before they go out, so they can have it behind them on certain stretches. I see people in groups now, sucking wheels, and then sprinting through particular Strava points. On climbs, weaker riders being left behind as the “KOM hunters” accelerate off. And this, for me personally is the key to the Strava application debate. It has the potential to make cycling a less sociable pastime. And that eclipses all upsides. The debate will continue. The jury is still out. I will continue to give my views here.

 

Trailheads Blog Award

Back again after a busy summer. Lots to talk about in the coming week. Plenty of subjects and ideas. Firstly however, it is always good to have you work appreciated. I would like to say many thanks to Trailheads, the US website. They have been kind enough to give me a Trailheads blog award, for one of the best cycling blogging websites. Trailheads   is one of the US’s biggest outdoor sport clothing websites. An award from them for a small website like ours is somehting to celebrate. I would like to thank Kristin for selecting us. So I must keep our standard high, so that we stay on their preferred list!

I have had a bit of time away from blogging through the summer. However, I will be back with plenty of new subjects, and hopefully spur some debate. This blog is designed to cover many subjects, with a Galician focus. I endeavour to make it interesting, and clearly with the Trailheads blog award, I am achieiving that. I want to promote cycling holidays in Galicia, the wonderful Galician roads,  the numerous Galician climbs available, and much more.

Also, the focus will be on the current trends in cycling. Are they removing the fun from our sport? We ride our bikes as a release from our daily lives. It should be fun, not another reason to get stressed. So, let’s enjoy our favourite sport, and above all come and do it here in Galicia.