Would you spend £12k on a bike and would it help

I am too purist and into my ti and steel to do so (and broke as a matter of fact) but here is an interesting article in the ‘tory’graph about what it can do for you …


In 1963 German sports car maker Porsche introduced a radical new car that would famously become a firm favourite of racing car drivers on their days off. In the hands of a skilled driver the rear-engined, turbocharged 911 was a snarling, all conquering testament to raw power and German engineering.

However, in the hands of a normal punter, the Porsche morphed into something all together more sinister. Its brutal power, delivered in staccato by the revolutionary air-cooled engine, and race car handling had a habit of tempting drivers into pushing the limits of their ability. By the end of the 1970s, the 911 had earned the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Not that Porsche flinched from selling it – instead, the car’s reputation for danger only added to its appeal among those with enough money to buy the iconic car.

A Porsche 911 GT3

Which brings me to the Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle, the official bike of Chris Froome’s Team Sky, designed in conjunction with British sports car maker Jaguar. The bicycle, equipped with the latest electronic Shimano Di2 gear system and lightweight wheels, sets you back as much as £12,000 – which is almost enough to buy a second-hand widow maker.

Like the Porsche, the F8 boasts a design that doesn’t conform to conventional theory. I took the version I have been riding to The Bicycle Academy in Frome for their frame building experts to take a look. Their verdict on the bike’s aesthetic was mixed. Pinarello has pioneered a concept of distinctive asymmetric design on the Dogma range. Couple this with some of the touches provided by Jaguar to improve the overall aerodynamic performance of the bike and you have a very radical looking machine. It’s certainly not one for the purists.

Just like the early buyers of the Porsche 911, people interested in the F8 who aren’t racing seriously or being paid to ride a bike must ask themselves whether they actually need such a two-wheeled beast. That being said, high-end design and hi-tech specifications can always be guaranteed to pique the interest of even the most amateur of club cyclists. To test the bike out, I decided to take it on my usual short 17-mile circuit around Box Hill in Surrey. From the first pedal stroke, I was genuinely surprised by its performance.

Andrew Critchlow’s Strava display after riding a 17 mile circuit around Box Hill

The bladed forks and reduced profile of the head tube (the focus of much of Jaguar’s design energy) deliver a stunningly fast bike – reducing drag by a claimed 40pc. Power transfer through the pedals is also incredible, as are the electronic shifters, which make for breathtakingly quick gear changes.

Quite simply, the F8 makes you want to ride faster. During my test, the bike immediately had me riding in the big chain ring, at least three gears higher than I would normally spin. I was able to hold the big ring even on the slopes of Box Hill. However, it was on the decent that the F8 showed its true colours. This bike makes you try things that you really shouldn’t on a bicycle. It’s constantly compelling you to ride faster, brake later into the corners, push the boundaries of your cycling ability and even beat the lights. On the descent from Box Hill I almost lost it. Could this be the bicycle equivalent of The Widow Maker?

Not quite. The F8 is assured and – unlike some carbon-fibre bikes I have ridden such as the Giant TCR Advanced SL – its handling is predictable. As a result, you can comfortably ride the bike faster than you would normally think possible. The proof in the pudding comes when I download my ride data at the end of the circuit. Clipped in to the F8, I have knocked 7 minutes off my time and achieved 63 personal records on Strava.

The downside of the F8 for a normal rider like me who isn’t followed around Europe with a Team Sky bus is maintenance. This bike needs looking after properly by expert bicycle mechanics, so forget about tampering in the kitchen with a set of hexagon keys. Also be careful about frame size. I am six-foot and the bike I tested was a 58cm – my usual frame size – but this was on the large size for my taste.

I have always aspired to owning a 911 because of its potent mix of race car engineering and Niki Lauda cool. My final verdict on the Pinarello is the same. I want one, pure and simple.

Thursday fat burn and why mornings start better with exercise

I love starting the morning with a bit of exercise it seems to set me up for the day – whether it is a boost to my heart rate or my metabolism or whether it is a bit of fluffing for my ego, I am not sure but I always feel a bit better once the exercise is done.
I know some people don’t respond to the thought of exercise first thing – some people are morning people and some are night people, but for me it is partly that I feel better once I know my exercise quotient for the day is already done – if I am aiming to do at least an hour of exercise a day then I feel like I have passed my test for the day before I start. Also life often throws a curveball – an unexpected guest, restaurant trip, change of plans or even an afternoon energy slump that can mean that exercise gets dropped off the task list.
Exercise in the morning makes me feel like I had my me time for the day – take this morning – I did an hour on an indoor spin bike in the gym. Lower resistance and spinning at around 90rpm. Heart rate fixed in lower cardio fatburn and I read a crappy book for an hour. At no point did it feel like I was exercising.
My aim is to go again this evening and do a hectic interval running session or another bikram spin session as I am flying tomorrow.

barefoot running: latest evidence says good?

From wired mag

If you’re a runner, start striking with your forefoot. And wear those goofy minimalist shoes while you’re at it. Your body will thank you.

Those are the findings of a pair of studies by Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. He found runners who use a forefoot strike face a significantly lower risk of repetitive stress injuries, and barely there running shoes produce more efficient movement than conventional kicks.

The two studies, published this month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, come less than two years after Lieberman’s earlier work found runners wearing minimalist shoes put less force into the ground, therefore less force on their bodies, when striking the ground with their forefoot versus their rearfoot.


The findings add to a small but growing body of research that suggests the best way to run is the way our forebears did: sans shoes. It’s a controversial notion, one that has prompted no end of debate as many runners complain minimalist shoes led to injuries and problems.

First, to the rearfoot/forefoot breakdown. In “Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: A Retrospective Study,” Lieberman analyzed 52 collegiate cross-country runners to compare rearfoot (heel-first) versus forefoot (ball-first) strikes.

Of those, 36 runners (59 percent) used a rearfoot strike. Lieberman considered the injury history of each runner — examining the severity of past injuries and rate of mild, moderate and severe injuries per mile — and found rearfoot strikers twice as likely to experience a repetitive stress injury.

“Competitive cross country runners on a college team incur high injury rates,” the report concludes, “but runners who habitually rearfoot strike have significantly higher rates of repetitive stress injury than those who mostly forefoot strike.”

Neither type of foot strike was more likely to produce a traumatic injury, the study concluded, and Lieberman did not examine causal reasons why rearfoot striking proved more harmful. But he did develop an hypothesis for the results.

“The absence of a marked impact peak in the ground reaction force during a forefoot strike compared to a rearfoot strike may contribute to lower rates of injuries in habitual forefoot strikers,” the report states.

The study, “Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy,” lends further credence to the benefits of minimalist shoes.

Runners wearing minimalist shoes were 2.41 percent more economical in their movements when forefoot striking than those wearing conventional shoes and 3.32 percent more economical when rearfoot striking. All data was controlled for stride frequency and shoe mass.

It was not clear if the two studies used the same runners as test subjects.

In determining these stats, researchers measured the cost of transport (milliliters of oxygen over kilograms over meters, or mlO2/kg/m) in people who typically wear minimalist shoes or run barefoot as they ran 3.0 meters per second on a treadmill. Force and kinematic data were collected in minimal and traditional running shoes to quantify differences in knee flexion, arch strain, plantarflexor force production and Achilles tendon-triceps surae strain.

The cost of forefoot and rearfoot striking was not significantly different for either minimal or standard shoe running. However, arch strain was much greater during forefoot striking than rearfoot among those wearing minimalist shoes. The same held true for plantarflexor force; Achilles tendon-triceps surae strain and knee flexion were lower in minimalist shoes.

Despite evidence supporting minimalist footwear, there are vocal critics of the trend. Lieberman’s latest studies are sure to renew the debate.

first go on a turbo trainer

After the assembly (10min) and another 5min changing the tyre on the road bike – I got on and cycled – I think my legs are a bit tired from gym session earlier but I loved it. Going to be the way I watch movies in the future … iPad on table and spin baby spin

Garmin picks up sensor on rear wheel too ...

More info once I have had more practice / experience.

Introducing broken tempo runs to your routine

I am always on the lookout for new ways to challenge your physiological systems and introduce new stimuli to training. After working with hundreds of athletes over the last 7 years, I’ve found one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to vary the distance and pace of threshold runs to safely increase fitness while varying the workouts to help keep you mentally fresh. I call these varying threshold efforts “broken tempos “ and after explaining them in a little more depth, I think you’ll have a much better understanding of how they fit into your FitnessClass.

The Basics
Broken tempos are basically tempo runs that are broken into shorter intervals to help you run longer at your threshold pace, or as an opportunity to run faster than you would for a normal tempo run. The precise combination of interval distances and total repetitions will change throughout your FitnessClass as you build your strength and endurance, but all the workouts are designed to help you run farther, faster.

The Purpose
The main benefit to broken tempos is the opportunity to run either longer at threshold pace or to run faster than threshold pace while still maintaining a high overall volume. I think an illustrated example might help you visualize this concept a little easier:

By breaking up the tempo run into two or three intervals that are 20-30 minutes in length, you can run 50-80 minutes at your threshold pace. This enables you to spend twice as much time during one run improving your lactate threshold compared to a normal tempo run. Furthermore, you can also run these 20-30 minutes broken tempos at a faster pace than you might have been able to hold for a single tempo session lasting 40-50 minutes at once.

The other advantage of broken tempos is the rest between hard intervals. The rest gives you a mental break and can help you more easily tackle the workout. Instead of worrying about having to run 6 miles all at once, you can turn your focus to each interval individually and push further than you anticipated.

Execution of Broken Tempos
Performing broken tempos is pretty straight forward. Your FitnessClass will assign you a specific pace to target for the entire run and your main goal should be to be within that target pace range as best you can. For example, you may have a workout that looks like this:


The pace assigned in these broken tempos is based on your fitness level and will fluctuate at different points in the training cycle as you get fitter or accumulate more fatigue. This particular workout is based on a goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon.

So, to perform this workout, you would run an easy 2 mile warm-up (as indicted by the first 2 miles slow in the workout description), which includes light stretching and a few strides to loosen up, to begin.

You will then begin you first 2-mile segment with a target goal of 8:55 for the first mile. If you hit 8:55 and feel comfortable, you can speed up to 8:45-8:50. If 8:55 felt difficult, remain at 8:55 pace for as long as you can. As a general rule, you should always start your workouts on the slower end of the suggested pace range in your FitnessClass and only increase the pace to the faster end of the range if you feel good.

After you have finished running the first 2-mile segment you will rest for 3 minutes, which can be either walking or slow jogging, before beginning the second 2 mile interval.

Run the second 2-mile repeat as you did the first and repeat again for the last 2 mile segment. Finish the run with an easy 1 mile cool-down and you’ll have completed a total of 6 miles at faster than your goal half marathon pace.

Additional Coach’s Notes
Concentrate on running one interval at a time, not the workout as a whole. Some of the broken tempo workouts can seem intimidating, but if you simply focus on finishing each segment as best you can, and forget about what is next, you’ll get through the workout with less mental effort.

If you’re struggling with one of the intervals, don’t be afraid to slow the target pace to something you can handle. I have at least one rough day on the roads during race build-up, it’s a natural part of the training process. The trick is to shake it off, don’t beat yourself up and simply focus on getting in as much of the workout as you can.