Sunday, 3 July 2011

Cycling advice from Shane Sutton...

I was reading in the Guardian's Weekend magazine (2 July 2011) about a top cyclist, Shane Sutton, head coach at the Beijing Olympics and the current head coach of Team Sky. At present, he's working with Bradley Wiggins, a professional cyclist, born in Belgium, and a triple Olympic Gold medallist.
Shane Sutton: "I keep in reasonable shape with three two-hour rides a week."

According to Sutton, any cycling is good for you – and this is the bit where I winced – 'as long as you have a good set of brakes and a good range of gears'. Well, that puts me out of the picture! For now at any rate.

Sutton argues that good gears and brakes are crucial and that it doesn't matter so much about the rest of the bike.

Like NoVisibleLycra, Sutton believes that because cycling is an outdoor activity, it's not as boring as the gym, but then he makes his first mistake (in my opinion). He says that the first thing to do is find a local cycling club. Well, no, the first thing to do is buy a bike and then you just go out on it. Who needs a club? Set up your own.

He's right about cycling being a social thing. I used to cycle alone before Andy and I started heading out to Westerham together at the weekends. Conversing with a fellow rider is far better than cycling on your own. Sutton's bang on when it comes to choosing a bike that isn't too big for you; make sure you can touch the ground with your feet.

"People often cycle in too big a gear." I think he means 'high', but how many times have I said to Andy, "I'm in the wrong gear"? Lower gears work your cardio, says Sutton, which makes my low-geared Kona Scrap dirt jumper ideal – even if, in other respects, it's rubbish for riding the sort of routes that No Visible Lycra takes, although we do go off-road occasionally and then, of course, they come into their own.

Sutton keeps in reasonable shape by riding out for two hours at a time, three times a week, although, being an Olympic class rider, I'm sure that his two-hour stint takes him to the south coast and back without breaking a sweat. Still, if I go out once more during the week – to Botley Hill – then I'll be getting as much cycling as Sutton.

Sutton advises, "be sure to stretch glutes and hamstrings when you get off or you'll end up with a very sore arse." Well, I cycle regularly and because of that I tend not to get a sore arse anymore.

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