Very excited about our own Wine Ride Which starts on Friday

beta-2-berth-spaceships

Wine Rides is over now for this year. We don’t start up again till, may 2014 (see dates here: http://winerides.co.uk/book/).

So Hayley and I are off on our own little adventure. Normally I would say there are three kinds of Cycling Tours: Dead runs, loops and flowers

Dead run: is get the train. Get off at a stop and cycle in a roughly straight line to another station.

Loop: get the train, cycle in a massive loop around a region and get back to the same entry point.

Flowers:  Get train to a location, cycle to a self-catered apartment and then cycle a different little loop away from the appointment in a radial pattern. Therefore the whole trip resembles a (badly) drawn flower when see on a map.

Well we think we have found a fourth. It is either, a bunch of straws or a tungsten light bulb filament.

We’ve rented a camper van from this cool company we found: http://www.spaceshipsrentals.co.uk.  If it is good I will let you all know. Obviously if it’s not, I am not going to slag another tourism company off on my company’s blog!

I am picking it up tomorrow and then we are getting the ferry to France on Friday morning, with a bottle of Sedlescombe wine in hand. Which I know is a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, but there you go.

The nice thing about running our own holiday company is that we now own all the extras for this anyway, so we just had to rent the camper. Normally on cycling holiday s we never have a car. But as we have a vehicle this time we are taking a bit more kit. If you fancy doing a similar trip to France please feel free to use the info below.

 

france trip map

(click to enlarge)

Places we may visit in Loire Valley:

  1. Chateau de Chambord – East of Blois. Worth spending a day there. Campsite not too far away called Camping Rural de Chatillion.
  2. Nearby there is also Chateau Chaumont sur Loire
  3. Vouvrey – has some good vineyards. Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau is recommended by Decanter. Located just east of Tours, also worth visiting
  4. Azay le Rideau is a chateau, with a campsite overlooking it. From here, Chateau Villendry (a must see, with its kitchen gardens) and Chateau d’Usse are both within cycling distance
  5. Nearby there is Langeais which is meant to be a nice town
  6. Chinon – a nice town, with a nice looking campsite right on the river. This is at the heart of another wine region. The vineyard Domaine de la Noblaie is just south of Chino and comes recommended by Decanter. It’s within cycling distance of Chinon
  7. Saumur itself is a recommended town, with vineyards nearby including Domaine de la Paleine, recommended by Decanter. The closest town to this vineyard is Montreuil-Bellay where there is also a campsite. Chateau de Breze is also an easy ride from the campsite.

Addresses and Directions:

1. Camping Rural de Chatillion, 6 Rue de Chatillion, D33, 41350 Huisseau sur Cosson (not in Michillen Guide)

2. Closest campsite to both the Vineyard and Tours itself is “Municipal le Bec de Cisse” Page 289 Michelin Guide described as a small site beside the river

2. Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau is located just off the D46, west of Chancay

3. Camping Municipal Le Sabot is right next to the chateau Azay La Rideau. The campsite is located just East of the Chateau on the Rue de Stade, off of Rue de Pineau

3. To get to Villendry from the campsite, we head North of Azay La Rideau onto the D39 passing through Valleres, then turning right onto the D7 which will take us to Villendry

3. Chateau d’Usse is located on the D7, West of the other two chateau

4. Campsite L’Ile de Auger in Chinon is just South of the town on Quai Danton, Chinon 37500.

4. The vineyard Domaine de la Noblaie is not on any main roads so may be trickier to find.

  • Head South of Chinon on D749 Av. St Lazare
  • At main roundabout turn left onto Rue Rene Cassin
  • At the placename La Galvaudrie, turn right onto Rue de Vindoux, which later becomes Rue D’Lors (we’ll probably see vineyards and hopefully signs!)
  • Turn left onto Rue de Vileneuve then right onto Rue des Hautes Cours.
  1. Campsite is called Le Nobis, Rue Georges Girouy near Montreuil- Bellay.
  • To visit the vineyard from here we will need to cycle (9km total) over the river on Av du Pont Napoleon, then left onto Av Paul Painleve, and follow D77
  • D77 will reach Puy Notre Dame, here we need to head North on D87 on Rue de Paleine. Here we will find Domaine de la Paleine.
  1. Chateau do Breze is close to Saumur, and 12.5km from the campsite
  • Take D360 North of M.B towards Saint Just sur Dive
  • Turn right onto D162
  • Turn right onto Place de la Gare and continue onto Rue Belles Caves
  • Turn right onto D93 and you will reach the Chateau

 

Kits List:

Documents

-    Pass ports

-    Driving license

-    Ferry Tickets

-    Directions

-    Van Booking

-    Euros

-    Wallets

-    Phone

-    Keys

-    Guides

-    Maps

-    Call sheets-plan

-    Do we need and sterling Cash?

Food:

-    2 x batches flapjacks

-    Oats

-    Tin of spagbol

-    Pasta

-    Cheese

-    Nuts (snack)

-    Dry fruit

-    bananas

-    apples

-    Water x 5

-    Crisps x 6 (for drive)

-    Cake

-    Milk

-    Bacon

-    Eggs

-    Butter

-    Tea

-    Coffee

-    Wine

-    Shampangie

Kitchen

-    black bin bags

-    kettle

-    Stove Gas spear.

-    Cafetiere

-    Large chopping board

-    Bread knife

-    Thermos

-    Pims Oclock bag

-    Cereal bowls

-    Cooking pots.

-    Frying pan

-    Cool blocks

-    Cool bag

Bath room

-    toilet roll

-    Wash bag

-    Towels

-    Contact lenses and sunglasses

-    Soap

-    Tooth brush

-    Bungies (washing line)

Sleeping

-    Hot Water bottles

-    Lantern

-    Torch

-    Pillows?

Entrainment

-    Croquet set

-    Camera

-    tripod

-    Dvds

-    Kindle

-    Book

Driving

-    In car phone charger

-    Wine Rides Ltd satnav

Cycling

-    Bike tool box

-    Bike pump

-    Locks

-    Water bottles

-    Spare inner tube

-    Sun cream

-    Basic first aid

-    Lights

Clothes

-    Bike gloves

-    Bike jacket

-    Clip shoes

-    Lycra

-    Glovee

-    Wooly hat

-    Shirts

-    Trowsers

-    Sock

-    Pants

-    Jumpers

-    Big jacket

 

 

Lycra Is not a gimp suit, I promise

lycraYesterday was the first day of the year that I donned my lycra.
Normally I tend to “cycle chic” as in I just wear my normal clothes. But now it is getting chilly again. In winter, particularly if I am traveling for more than 20mins I will wear lycra. For years I didn’t use it and I have to be honest, that was a mistake. You don’t need it, but if you are a super commuter, as in your commute is more than 45mins, and you do that “super commute” by bike, then I think it is worth shelling out for a bit of geek chic.
In 2002 when I started cycling, if you told people you were buying a bike, they would ask you “Are you going to wear all that lycra?” Aware that I was really being asked: “Are you going to become a sexual deviant, who commutes in a gimp suit?” I would quickly respond, “No, I am not into that stuff. It is ridiculous and unnecessary”.
Still to this day the word “lycra” is used to fetishize cycling and identify us as a weird out group but it is clear that the sting has gone out of the tale of the lycra prejudice.
Now a typical discussion goes like this. Q:”Do you wear all that lycra?” A: “Yeah, of course I do.” Q: “Why?” A: “Well my commute is over an hour, and the shorts have padding in the seat and it is more comfortable”. Q: Oh, so you don’t wear the full body lycra then (laugh)? A: Yes I do. Q: (some shock) Why? A: Because in winter, at some points in my journey I am doing more than 30 mph and the wind chill is unpleasant. So I prefer to be warm and comfortably dressed. The lycra means I don’t over heat if I ride fast and don’t get cold when I am on a descent.
Convinced? Well Lycra is clearly still a very divisive issue. It you want to buy it then I think the best place to go is Wiggle. Their DHB range is cheap and has served me well through a few winters now. I always rode my bike all year round but now I am perfectly comfortable whatever the weather.

A good kit list for the all-weather cyclist is:
Thick walking socks

Clip in shoes

DHB over booty things

Onesie lycra

Shorts

Cycling jersey

A cable knit sweater (one that lets the air through, so you can open your jacket and let the icy winds in if you are over heating)

Jacket

Lycra beanie

Helmet

Gloves: absolutely essential, riding without them in winter is hellish.

Normally, I would say, wear normal clothes and only wear a helmet if it makes you feel more comfortable on the bike. But in the depths of winter which will creep up on us fast, I am glad I have this stuff.

Lastly if you really can’t abide any of that then, the only thing left to do is head south. Next week we are off to the Loire Valley. :-p
Yes, sorry for the boast but I am really looking forward to our own little cycling adventure!
Seriously though, don’t let the bullies put you off. If you are thinking of getting lycra, just do It. I use to worry about what people would think, but now I never even give it a moment’s consideration. You know it’s great, it works well and you won’t look back.

How to build storage for Wine or Cycle Touring equipment or anything else for that matter.

how to build Cycle kit storageThis was my weekend project. I didn’t just assemble these shelves; I built them with materiel we had kicking about in the loft.

Why should you care?

Well the main thing I got out of it was learning how to use Aluminium C-studs. It is a building material, that is cheaper than wood, and faster ones you know how to work it.

We have renovated our flat and in the future we will probably do another home renovation.  On this home renovation we were able to save money by taking down the old partition walls. Now I have built these shelves and understood this material I feel confident that I could erect partition walls. At some point this could save me loads of money, and help me add value to my property.

Also they fit exactly in the space. We solved a storage problem. Shopping for shelves would have been boring, were as making something is fun.

I have written this up so anyone who has a similar situation i.e. want to store their wine or cycle touring equipment can build a custom storage unit that fits perfectly in their property.

FYI:  These are not detailed instructions. It is my story. I tell it only to give you inspiration for your own projects. If you build shelves like this and they collapse under the weight of your prize bottles of wine, then I accept no responsibility! Your shoddy workmanship is your own. My shoddy workmanship is mine.  Also please feel free to wear gardening gloves, while building these shelves. Before I reached for my gloves I sliced my thumb and ring finger open. I imagine it would be perfectly possible to lose a finger doing this work. If you ever ripped a coke can open when you were a kid, then you will know what kind of material Aluminium is when it has been cut.

Before you start

You may want to use Google sketch up to make sure you understand what you have to build.

This will help you visualise your project in 3d and overcome any unique issues you may have e.g. an irregular shaped location for the shelving unit, non-level surfaces or any other issue that may cause your build to be asymmetrical.

You may also like to do something a bit more complicated than this. Drawing it in Google Sketch up feels more like building than drawing a diagram, It will let you make mistakes quickly in the computer and mean you will spend far less time making mistakes with your materials.

You can down load sketch up here:

http://google-sketchup.en.softonic.com/

Tools: Tin Snips, Dremel Multi tool, Saw, Drill, Screwdriver, Tape measure, spirit level, Pencil, White board marker pen, Leather gloves

Material:

Two floor boards, 3 Aluminium C stud (0.55x 50x2700mm), two longish screws

Method

Measure hole for shelving unit

Start by creating the sides. Create two large “picture frame” like rectangular frames.

Use tin snips to cut walls of Aluminium C stud.

Make first cuts 4-5 inches from end of C-stud. This is to form a tab so you can join to bits of aluminium together.

Now make cuts along the length of the C stud so you can roll it up into a box frame.

Tip:

 diagram 1 wine or cycling kit shelves

One straight cut in the wall of the C stud will enable you to bend the C stud into shape. But cutting out an acute angle will remove more material from the fold. This means the bend will be neater, and when you have done all the folds and are attaching the corners together the will be less material and the frame will fit together better.

Once you have cut the tab you will need to make your bespoke cuts.

Bonus Tip:

diagram 2 wine or cycling kit shelves

I am guessing your cuts should have a pattern to them. You should have a short section, then a long section then a short section etc. The short bits will be the short side of your finished rectangle and the long bits will be the long sides of the rectangle. The pattern will continue until you have all four sides to your rectangle.

In my case one 2700mm length of C-stud was not enough material to create an entire rectangular frame. So I had to join another bit of C-stud on to make the 4th and final corner.

To do that, I created another long side with a 5 inch tab on each end. I then inserted the tabs inside the short sides of the other bit of folded C stud.

diagram 3 wine or cycling kit shelvesOnce these two elements have been joined together, you have built a frame. This frame is one side of the shelving unit.

Joining:

One method of joining these bits of metal together would be to use a crimper. This would puncture both bits of aluminium and stick them together at the same time. Unfortunately, I have lost my crimper and couldn’t source a new one. So I decided to improvise a solution.

Using my Dremel’s disc cutting bit I cut two small parallel straight lines through both bits of metal I wished to join.

Then, using offcuts, I use the tin snips to create staples.

 

 

 

Making staples:

Cut small pieces of scrap offcuts into 5 cm long pieces of metal that are roughly this shape:

 diagram 4 wine or cycling kit shelves staples

The ends of these bits of metal are slightly pointy, so that they self-guide into the holes you have cut in the frame.

Once you have created these bits of metal fold them in half in the middle and put each of the points into the slots you have cut in your frame. Try and cut them to the width of the holes in the frame you have created. Then bang them in with a hammer.

Wine shelves staples

Note: They do need to be narrower than the holes you have cut in the frame. If they are not, the Staples will bend before they go in. If they are narrower the Staples should selfguide into the holes nicely.

Obviously if they are too narrow, there will be more movement in the frame. Don’t worry about a bit of wobble in these frames. They should be statically loaded when they are finished, so you can tolerate a bit of “play” or ricketyness in the finished product.

 

The support for the lower shelf

Using the C stud you’re going to create a horizontal platform in the middle of your rectangular frame. The horizontal platform needs to be this shape:

 Cycle shelves bottom bracket

It’s a short section of C-stud, with a vertical tab at each end. Once you have created it slotted inside your metal frame.

 

 Side complete Frame Cycle kit shelf

(This is a side)

In order to finish this you need to staple this horizontal support to the frame. If you have a crimper use that. Otherwise, use the same method above cut to parallel slots through the rectangular frame and the tab on the horizontal support. Then bang a home-made staple through both the frame and the tab of the horizontal support.

I only stapled one side of the horizontal support at each end. This is because the Dremel’s circular cutting bit is a grinding tool. So cutting the slots quickly wore down two of my circular Dremel bits. I also decided that I only wanted to cut the surfaces of my frames which would not be accessible when the shelving unit was installed and in use.  I don’t want anyone to get scratched when they are putting things on the shelves.

Tip: if you only want to work one side of your frame draw red X’s using the whiteboard marker on the side of the frame you want to work on. That should stop you accidentally making cuts on parts of the frame you didn’t want to.

You have now finished one side of your shelving unit. Repeat the process to build the other side of your shelving unit.

Note: When you install the horizontal platform in the other side of your shelving unit. It is really worth checking that it is at the same height as the horizontal platform on the other side of your shelving unit. I would put them in situ and check with a spirit level that they are actually at the same height before you commit and join the horizontal platform on your second side of your shelf. Doing it in situ will mean that these shelves are level, even if the surface you’re placing your shelving unit on is not exactly level.

FYI: Seriously, if you think you are going to load these with heavy, brittle or expensive items (Wine ticks all three) then think about your method of joining. My priority was to build this quickly and cheaply, so I used homemade staples, you may even want to explore welding.

Building the plat form:

In this instance, my shelves are constrained on three sides. As a result, the sides of my shelves cannot fall over sideways or backwards. This means this build is relatively simple. The only thing I have to worry about is the two sides of the shelving unit falling in on themselves. Solving this issue was simple. I measured the distance between the two sides and cut a piece of floorboard to span the two sides of the shelving unit.

In situ, I drilled a pilot hole through the floorboard. When the drill bit passed through the floorboard, it scratched the top of my metal frame. The marque made by the drill bit showed me where I needed to grind a small hole in my frame. Once I had made a small hole in the metal frame the screw could pass through the floorboard and the frame.

To grind the small hole in the frame I used a Dremel wall tile cutting bit.

 

Dremel Bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: hold it near horizontal and press down. You will get a tear drop shaped hole but you can keep your hand steady like this. Don’t hold it vertically and try and “drill” a hole with the very tip of the bit. It will run all over the place. Also you only need a tiny hole, Just enough for the screw to go into. The bigger you make the hole the baggier it will be and the more the shelves will wobble.

Location of screw

 

Once you have screwed a plank onto the top of the frames the structure is stable.

 

 

If you are making a set of free standing shelves then you obviously have more work to do. You will need a bit more skill, and your will have to work to higher degree of accuracy. If they are totally free standing that, does kind of beg the question. Why don’t you just buy them? The materials alone may cost you more than a set of mass produced shelves. However, these could be made free standing by adding X-shaped cross members and vertical cross members and tensioning up the whole thing.

Like so:

diagram 6 wine or cycling kit shelves staples stabalising for free standing

Now all you have to do is cut more planks to create the rest of the platform.

Wooden platform for wine or cycling shelves

 Boom! It’s done. Load it, close the door, don’t worry about it until it becomes so stuffed again, you need to find a new solution.

 

(Find your husband another challenge!)

Wine Rides next challange

 

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What You Should Eat and How to Avoid Bonking on Your Cycling Holiday

what 2 eat and how to avoid bonking on cycling holiday

 

If you have toured before then you will know that it is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time off. But key to keeping it fun is not running out of energy.

This pyramid describes Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

 

maslows pryimid

As you can see food is the first thing mentioned on the foundation of the pyramid. If you have spent a bit of time outside in the cold you may well be aware that f1ood has a “thermic” effect. Digesting food releases heat and that helps maintain your core body temperature so food not only keeps your energy levels up but it also helps to keep you warm.

As warmth is another pillar of the hierarchy of needs, it makes food especially important when you are out on tour.

Now I know what my Dad would say: “Jesus, do you know how to stay warm and well fed? Go on holiday and stay in a hotel!” That is absolutely a great point. Going on holiday and staying in a hotel is undoubtedly one way of fulfilling all the requirements on the bottom of that pyramid. But that in itself isn’t what I would consider to be a good holiday.

I can stay fed, watered, warm and dry by staying at home. I can even remain, safe and feel loved by remaining at home. But what an adventure holiday lets me do is climb up the pyramid to the lofty heights of Achievement, Mastery, Recognition, and Respect. In fact if you find space in your bag for a camera, you might even be lucky enough to get some Creative Fulfilment as well.

Ultimately isn’t that the reason we go traveling? You want novelty. You want to expand your horizons, learn and be challenged.

Some people may say that what they want from their trip is relaxation, but let’s be honest if relaxation was the absolute priority then, none of us would get further than our own sofas. On some level we all want a bit of risk, we all want some novelty, and most of all, we all want a cool story to tell our friends.

 

So if like me, you are basically a sedentary office worker most of the time, then your energy requirement when you are out on tour will be totally different from your normal day to day energy requirement.

The reason I have written this blog is that I want to flag a few things that I have learned the hard way. In the hope that you are able to avoid some of the mistakes that Hayley and I have made while we have been out and about.

Whether you come on a Wine Ride with us or you are looking to plan your own unsupported cycling trip, if you haven’t been long distance cycling before you will almost certainly fall into the trap of cycling too fast and hard. Even people who do quite a lot of sport riding tend to set off like the clappers. That’s why we ride with our guests for the first day. So we can give them a sense of what a “normal” speed is.

Typically a group of guys that go on multi day rides instantly get competitive and find themselves riding so hard they run down their energy supplies. Or couples find the guy tends to naturally cover the ground faster than the girl. This can lead to the girl trying to keep up with the guy and she will start to deplete her energy levels.

On a single day ride it is very often possible to completely run down your batteries. You get the train home like a zombie, someone feeds you a carby meal and you sleep that fantastic deep sleep that can only be achieve when your muscles are processing lactic acid. But if you are out on tour, unsupported you won’t get that respite. The days will compound and eventually you will start “Bonking”.

In the UK we normally don’t say “Bonking”, we call it “hitting the wall” but in the context of a multi-day bike ride I think the US term “Bonking” is more appropriate. What is happening is that you have been riding too hard. As a result you have started using the glycogen in your liver to power your muscles. This is very bad. The trouble is that that glycogen is not meant for your muscles. It’s the jet fuel we use for our brains and on very special occasions, explosive muscular activity, like running away from a horde of Vikings. You’re “bonking” or bouncing because your liver is giving you energy in lumps.

It can no longer supply a steady stream of glucose for your brain. It is at this point in the trip, that you are most likely to have a real sense of humour crisis. I become obsessed with getting fed. I get Hangry (hungry and angry). I don’t want to talk, I just want to get where we are going, get the tent set up, without any major problems, and get myself in an establishment that serves bloody massive portions as quick as humanly possible. Even the slightest disruption in this path between me and food at that point can result in a full on hissy fit. Clearly this kind of “Bonking” is totally unacceptable when you are on holiday, particularly if you had hoped to do some British “bonking” while you were away.

It’s not easy to avoid, but what you want to do is ride slow enough that you stay aerobic. If you can’t chat while you are on the move then you are going too fast.

Obviously, there are hills and bends. This means that unavoidably you will go anaerobic many times during the day and start knocking lumps out of your liver’s glycogen supply. But it is really, really important to get back to a slow pace.

To give you an idea, If you are planning your first trip: Hayley and I always aim to do about 50miles per day on a trip and never more than 4000 ft of gain and never more than 80miles in a single day.

Even if you are quite fit, I would make sure your plans for your first trip don’t exceed those parameters. When we designed Wine Rides, we pretty much halved all of that, and our guests don’t carry their own kit, we do.

The other thing to look at is what you are eating. We don’t touch those high sugar energy drinks. They are completely wrong for cycle touring. If you are out for more than three hours you will start to deplete your liver glycogen stores, but the last thing you want to do is take on sugary drinks. You need to keep drinking water. When you replace sugars you have to do it with some slow release form of carbohydrate. Salted cashew nuts are great because they also enable you to replenish the sodium you will have lost in your sweat.

On Wine Rides we give all of our guests homemade flapjacks that have been made with oats and honey or maple syrup. Often the guests tell us “they were an absolute life saver”. On our personal holidays we sometimes carry chocolate with us and have half or a 3rd of a mars bar. But it is really worth noting that if you a breaking into the chocolate for energy then you are probably past the point of no return and you really need to be thinking about where you can stop for the night.

Definitely don’t try and power yourself on chocolates, sugar or energy drinks. If you start the day with that stuff you find yourself on the insulin roller coaster. You will take sugar on board, your insulin levels will spike, this will result in your blood glucose crashing, your liver will dump glucose into your blood to compensate and you will actually end up depleting your livers glycogen stores rather than topping them up.

If you normally have a good diet, which is low in sugar, high in vegetables, fruit and fat, and you ride slow then for the most part you will be able to use your body’s fat reserves as energy. If you have a typical crappy westernised diet that contains a normal amount of sweets, pudding, white bread, white pasta etc. then your metabolism will probably not be used to doing ketosis which is burning fat for energy. That’s no biggy, it just means that you will start depleting the glycogen sooner.

Here’s a graph:

fat burn

Where you want to stay is in the green bit. Using your body’s fat as fuel. Most of us are the guy on the left hand side of the graph. We eat the wrong food all the time ‘cos it tastes good and so our bodies love to burn sugar not fat: which incidentally is why many of us are fat despite doing lots of exercise.

(If you really want to dig into that then please check out this blog: http://bit.ly/RXrtzB very technical but good)

The main point is, before you ride and during the day think light meals and slow release carbohydrates: porridge, nuts, bananas and other fruit.

After you have finished for the day, think massive portions and fuelling up. While you are out on a tour there is really no reason not to have an evening meal that’s high in carbs or protein or fat and you should also have a desert. By the end of the day, you should just be looking to refill that liver glycogen. You will also be processing loads of lactic acid and replenishing your muscle glycogen supplies, so while you sleep your liver will already be working overtime. You may as well chuck some alcohol in there as well. The chances of you having a hang over the next day are remote.

In fact because you have been working all day as soon as you have a glass of wine you will start falling asleep. It’s a really powerful muscle relaxant and that’s why I enjoy drinking wine after a long day in the saddle. The exercise makes me a light weight, so one good glass of wine goes a long way.

Over eating in the day is a problem because your blood should be in your muscles working not tied up in your gut. But over eating at night is a good thing. The food will digest as you sleep and keep you warm in your tent.

If you find you are going faster than the person you are with, or you suspect that your cycling partner is about to “crack” (run out of energy) then try not to be a dick. Don’t speed off and then cycle back to them, or have a rest and then as soon as they catch up run off again. This is buzzing them. It is very irritating and not much fun for them. If you are slower than your partner don’t worry about it.

It might not mean you are less fit. It could just be that you are a smaller person and have smaller muscle glycogen stores or are less powerful, so have built up more lactic acid. Let them go ahead, if cycling at your speed is uncomfortably slow for them, you guys can catch up and chat when you stop for rests at the top of hills. Go at your own pace and enjoy it.

Hang on; “So why do the Pros use those sugar gels?” Well, they are professional cyclists and capable of incredibly intense levels of activity. As a result they have supressed insulin response when they are engaged in intense activity. They are not carting their kit with them and they are not trying to have a lovely holiday!

I have never used those gels, but people who do, report stomach cramps, vomiting or even diarrhoea. If you know what you are doing with those gels, or any of that sounds like something you want to be part of your holiday then sure go ahead use the sugar gels.

Personally I prefer to eat real food, and just shift the quantities around a bit to fit around the activity.

Oh one last tip. Caffeine is a performance enhancing substance. Pro athletes actually dose themselves with it before an event and most of those sugar gells have it. But when you are on holiday it is much more fun to consume it in the form of an espresso, or macchiato.

Hope that helps: If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to e-mail and ask using the contact widgety-bob right at the bottom of the page and we will try and find you answers.

You need clean Air!

 

Information is power. But sometimes if you are actually powerless information isn’t necessarily wanted.

About a year ago, some friends of mine told me that over 4000 people in London died a year as a result of the air pollution in London. We are now getting back to where we were in 1956 when London last had smogs. As a result the NHS is spending 2 billion pounds a year dealing with the damage coursed by air pollution.

You might read that and think what I did at first. “Ok, great thanks for that, but as air pollution is all around me and I can’t get away from it then, there is really little I can do? So I am going to ignore that.”

But Wait. Things aren’t quite as bad as that. The fantastic news is that there a few steps you can take, if you want to avoid this menace. Jenny Jones, Green Party Member of the London Assembly and her team have done some really excellent work and produced this helpful website.

http://www.howpollutedismyroad.org.uk/index.php

It is not the most sophisticated tool in the world. I don’t think they had any funding to do it. It is just cobbled together from information they obtained using freedom of information requests. (I apologies if I am not giving credit where credit is due but) I believe the map was built by my friend Tom Chance, who did the maps on the Wine Rides website.

You may be pleased to learn that you can view this Map: http://www.howpollutedismyroad.org.uk/roads.php and have a quick look to see if your route to work takes you through any of the black sections of road. These are the places in London were your exposure to pollution is dangerous. If you currently, regularly spend time on the sections of road that are black you might think about changing your route to work, or adjusting your habits slightly to avoid these areas.  If you are unlucky enough to work in an office that is in one of these black areas, then you are well within your rights to ask your employer to make sure they have the correct flitters on any Air conditioning system.

The issue with air pollution at the moment is that modern vehicle engines are producing very tiny particles that are not visible to the naked eye. These tiny particles get deep into our lungs and are coated with some really strange metallic compounds. Because they are so small they pass easily into the blood resulting in breathing and heart difficulties as well as cancers.

These things are not easy to put together, I couldn’t do it but they have also taken the time to look at which schools, are within 150m of a road that carries 10,000 vehicles a day about 7 per minuet. All other things being equal, if two schools are the same, then you should probably try and get your kids into a school that is not close to one of these roads.

However in London that doesn’t look that easy to me? Just looking at the bit of London I live in Crystal Palace, these schools seem to be effected buy unhealthy levels of pollution: St. Josephs Rc Junior School, Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, St. Josephs Infant School, Norwood School, All Saints School, Cypress Junior School, St. Anthony Rc School, Malcolm Primary School, Sydenham High School, Kelvin Grove Primary & Nursery School, Royston Primary School.

http://www.howpollutedismyroad.org.uk/schools.php

As far as I can tell near me the only school that doesn’t appear to be affected and is more the 150m from a road carrying more than 10, 000 cars a day is Harris City Academy Crystal Palace. I am not a parent yet so I don’t know much about the academic success of these schools, but Harris looks like the place to get your kids in if you don’t want them exposed to too much pollution.

To be honest, I was totally in two minds about writing this blog. I may live to regret it. My Blog is only supposed to contain things that interest and attract people who may be potential customers for Wine Rides. As my trips are over 18’s only and at the moment we are not open to family’s I probably should have stuck with the one I was going to write about the pros and cons of cycling in lycra. But I suppose in the end I couldn’t reconcile my feelings about this matter. I hope I can make a small contribution and help the London Green party and http://cleanairinlondon.org/ spread their important message.

I am not one for bashing the Mayor. I don’t like to be politically partisan, but it has been alleged that the current administration in London is spraying particle suppressing compounds near the air pollution monitoring stations. If this is true they are trying to artificially reduce the measurement of pollution in London without actually reducing particle emissions. If that turns out to be true, it could be quite a damaging fraud. Particularly as the EU rules on pollution are there to protect our health. They are not trivial.

They need to ban diesel cars on certain roads where the invisible smog hangs around as these are emitting the most pollution. But who knows how long it will take them to summon the political will to do that. I would like them to turn many of the grid locked 4 lane trunk roads into leafy urban parks and vastly accelerate the development of public transport in the capital, but the least the mayor could do for now, is give Londoners smog warnings on days when it is particularly bad. I would even say they have a moral obligation to develop SatNav plugins for smart phones that will enable us to navigate, around these particularly bad areas as we travel around London.

The responsible thing to do is make the information more accessible to people on the move so we can try and stay healthy while we wait for real change.

If you want to help then please spread the word by sharing this blog, or tweet at the Mayor and tell him to get his act together on this.

E.g. @mayoroflondon what are you doing to sort this the air pollution out? http://bit.ly/14hspkG

More on this: http://tom.acrewoods.net/2012/05/15/routing-around-pollution-any-help/