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Train like a pro

Imagine training as part of a real squad, just think about those body and mind benefits. We sat down with Team Ford EcoBoost riders Sophie Fennell, Julie Erskine, Nikki Juniper and Charlotte Broughton to find out about their goals and gains.

How does training as part of the team help your training? Sophie: ‘I think you benefit a lot from training with others especially on the road because it allows you to understand how other riders ride. It develops your own skills as you pick up techniques from the other riders; it both pushes and motivates you; and it allows less experienced riders to gain experience from those with more.’

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to women who are inspired to get into cycling now? Julie: ‘Invest in a decent pair of cycling shorts.  Lots of women are put off when it gets sore and uncomfortable sitting in the saddle, so a good pair of cycling shorts is key! Don’t worry about how far or how fast you go, just go for it and have fun!’
 
What do you enjoy the most about training/racing? Nikki: ‘I love the feeling when I’m finished that I’ve pushed myself as hard as I can.  I just love riding my bike and in a sick kind of way I love the pain it inflicts on my body because then I know that I’ve given everything I possibly can.’
 
When it comes to race nutrition, what really counts for you? Julie: ‘Team Ford EcoBoost are really lucky to have HIGH5 as our nutrition sponsor this season. I love its EnergySource 4:1 drink especially for back-to-back races or hard blocks of training. It has whey protein and carbohydrate in it so as well as providing you with energy to keep going, it also helps to start your recovery process.’

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received when it comes to training? Charlotte: ‘If your body starts giving you red flags, address them. Now I’m older and understand my body better it keeps me healthy and my training consistent.’
 
What drives you to train, other than winning? Nikki: ‘I’m not just training for myself now, I’m training for the team and the fear of failure that if I don’t train then I won’t back up all the hard work the girls do for me.’

Essential kit picks ► Giant Envie Advanced Pro bike, £3,299, echeloncycles.co.uk
► Kask Bambino TT Helmet, £299, echeloncycles.co.uk
► Kalas LADY A-5 Titan X6  cycling Shorts, £65, kalas.co.uk
► HIGH5 EnergySource 4:1, from £16.99, highfive.co.uk

For more information on cars in the Ford EcoBoost range, visit ford.co.uk/ecoboost

And find the Team on Facebook and Twitter.

5 reasons to get on your bike

What’s not to love about cycling? There’s no greater pleasure than the feeling of freedom you get pedalling out on the open road. 

And let’s not forget that cycling – whether on an indoor bike in the gym or touring the streets – is the perfect way to get your exercise fix. Here are our favourite reasons to saddle up today. 

Reason 1: Stay slim
Want an awesomely fit body? Hit the spin bike! High-intensity spinning classes offer a great head-to-toe toning workout and they’re suitable for everyone – regardless of your fitness level. The interval sessions really challenge your lower body and the calorie-burning potential is pretty impressive, too. ‘The most beneficial part of spin classes is the intervals, as they challenge the body so you can get the most out of your workout,’ says Chris Foster, professional head of fitness at nuffield health (nuffieldhealth.com). Looking for a fresh alternative to your regular spin class? Check out BOOM Cycle, it’s an awesome indoor cycling class with an emphasis on fun and great music, it’s a firm team WF favourite (boomcycle.co.uk). 

Reason 2: It’s better for the environment
Nobody wants to live in a world clogged up with unhealthy carbon emissions that wreak havoc on health. So ditch your car and get on your bike instead. A study by the European Cyclists Federation found that Europe could reduce its CO2 emissions by a quarter if its population cycled as regularly as the Danes. In Denmark the average person cycles almost 600 miles annually, while the average Brit logs in a meagre 46 miles each year. 

Reason 3: See the world
Whizzing around on two wheels is the perfect workout to take you away from home and out exploring new places. ‘Cycling lets you see the world – whether you want to hit the MTB trails or head out for a ride on the road. You can travel to places that you didn’t even realise existed and appreciate buildings and views that you have only ever bypassed in the car,’ enthuses Wiesia Kuczaj, cyclist and Sigma Sport Team MuleBar Girl (mulebar.com).

Reason 4: Add years to your life
Turn your commute into your workout and not only will you save money, you could also lengthen your lifespan. A 20-year study by Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg University Hospital found that women who cycled every day at a vigorous pace lived on average 3.9 years longer than slow cyclists. So get pedalling hard, people!

Reason 5: Improve joint health
The low-impact nature of cycling makes it an accessible sport for those who are at risk of joint injury and also enables them to increase the volume and intensity of their riding at a faster pace. ‘Consequently, cycling may help you to reach your health and fitness goals more quickly than is possible in more technical and/or weight bearing sports, such as running,’ explains performance coach James Hewitt (jameshewitt.net).

Pedal power

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. 

Slim cycle

Jumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.

And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!

It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.

Healthy heart

Cycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ 

Mind matters

And getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.

Wheely wheely fun

Whizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. 

Back to it!

Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:

The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.

Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.

There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.

Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.

Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

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