Füd – Energy Drink Review

Füd is a new healthy alternative energy drink that claims to be a natural energy boost.  I will admit I am not a fan of energy drinks and also not a fan of anything with the consistency of milkshakes or smoothies though I know many are.  When I was offered some samples of this new drink I was keen to try.

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The drink was developed by Philip Udeh after struggling for years with chronic fatigue due to sickle cell anaemia, looking to create something better than the sugary energy drinks being offered at the time in the market.

If you watch Dragons Den you may have seen the pitch from these guys and also saw that they managed to bag investment from Peter Jones as a result.

So what is in it?  Just sparkling water, real fruit juices, natural caffeine and B-vitamins, low calories and vegan friendly.

What did I think of the taste?  There are two flavours currently being Berry & Coconut and also Pineapple & Ginger.

So first with the pros:

  • Now normally what puts me off the most about some energy drinks is the over powering smell and how fizzy some of them are.  The berry and coconut flavour definitely smelt stronger but was nice and not off-putting and the pineapple and ginger didn’t have much of a smell.
  • Natural flavours and no added sugar or sweeteners.
  • Vegan friendly.
  • Packaging is nice and simple, all information clearly displayed that you could want as a consumer and recyclable.

And the cons:

  • I found both flavours had a clear dominant flavour in each with the berry and coconut one tasting mostly of coconut and the pineapple and ginger tasting mostly of ginger.  I think I am maybe one of the few people not to like coconut water or similar drinks so this was not a pro for me but I am sure others won’t mind it so much.
  • I found the flavours quite bland overall.
  • The taste was actually ok but probably not something I would purchase myself.  Not too much flavour but equally not enough and the same with the fizziness, not too fizzy but not still somewhere in between that didn’t seem quite right.
  • We won’t get into the name……….

I only had one can of each so can’t comment on the effects as that is not enough to form any real result with regards to noticeable difference in feeling, performance etc. 

Looking at the composition of the ingredients, and I should state I am not a qualified nutritionist, it would appear that I would not gain anything from switching from my nutrition I currently use for both energy and electrolytes.

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If I were given this I would drink it, I didn’t dislike the taste and it was much more palatable than other energy drinks I’ve had, but I wouldn’t buy it myself specifically.  Unfortunately not for me but give it a go for yourself and see if you like it maybe?

When you visit the website you can subscribe to their newsletter to get 10% off your first order.

I was gifted the products, but all opinions are my own.

 

Pre Ride Bike Checks

Ready to head out for a bike ride?  What do you check before you head off?

I guess the answer has elements that largely depend on what sort of ride you are doing, for example a short local recovery ride would see different items in saddle bags/pockets than an endurance event but some aspects remain the same.

Here is my pre ride checklist:

  • M Check – if you have not heard of this then you can find more info over at British Cycling here but it is a quick check you should complete on your bike before riding to ensure everything is in good working order.  It is called the M check as the order in which you check makes the shape of the letter M on the bike.
  • Tyres – I always check that there is no flint from previous rides, tread is not worn, and inflate to the required PSI (pressure per square inch).  Depending on the type of  bike you are riding, tyre, weather/conditions and personal preference the PSI differs.  The PSI will affect the grip on the road as you ride and the rolling resistance.  If your tyre does not have enough PSI you will find the tyre doesn’t roll smoothly – the aim is obviously for good grip and resistance.  On my road bike I use Continental GP 5000 tyres (that you can see here) and run my PSI at 110/120 in good weather and less if it is wet though as I say this is personal preference and you should find a range provided for advice when you purchase your tyre.  Some people calculate depending on weight but I have never done that.
  • Chain – I opt to use a chain from NRG, which I can highly recommend, and these are prepared and waxed so I have no need to add chain lube or check it before I ride. When I am due for further treatment NRG check for wear before they re-wax all chains and will feedback if it is worn out and advise next steps.
  • Saddle Bag – I did a whole post on what I have in my saddle bag that you can read here but I always check pre ride that everything is in there.  If you were unfortunate enough to experience the dreaded ‘p’ word on a previous ride you may need to replace an inner tube and gas canister.
  • Nutrition – both food and drink and will differ depending on length of ride etc
  • Tech – always make sure my Di2 is charged (I have found this the hard way when out on a ride and stuck in the wrong gear because I didn’t check!) and Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is charged and ready – I mean if it is not on Strava did it even happen?
  • Helmet – not a legal requirement but I personally wouldn’t ride without one (more on that here) and so having that ready and fitted properly.

For endurance I would also add:

  • Top tube bag – easy access for nutrition whilst riding.  I use the Topeak Tri bag with cover that you can see here, and I like having the cover in case weather is bad but also not having to faff about with zips etc whilst riding.
  • Spares – I would take more inner tubes, gas canisters, spare layers of clothing and lights also either in a bigger saddle bag or in jersey/jacket pockets.
  • Nutrition – stands to reason you will want more for longer rides although if part of an event they may have stops with food
  • Tech – my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is set to beep every 20 minutes to remind me to drink and eat (stop the bonk!).

For commuting I would also add:

  • Tyres – Further to the above, for my commute I use a gravel bike and on that I use Schwalbe G1 tyres and they run at a much lower PSI of 70.
  • Lights – I commute early and it can be pretty dark so always one to bang on about being safe and seen, its safety after all!  I make sure I have a front and back light, helmet light, arm band with light and fibre flare light as well.  I also take cables so I can charge them back up at work ready for my return journey.
  • Hi vis – again its all about being safe and seen so I have a bag cover and reflective clothing.  ProViz have a huge range or items that are great.

 

Happy riding!

How I Chose My Custom Bike Kit

For a while now I have looked at getting some custom bike kit for when I am cycling but then never really pushed it forward until this year.

My cycling club Romford CC have used BioRacer for over 5 years now and the kit is such good quality with excellent customer service that they were definitely the brand that came to mind.  I deal with club kit for Romford CC and so it was an easy process to get in touch and discuss the idea further with them.

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I’d like to think I was an easy customer but they would have to be the judge on that.  I knew roughly that I wanted something simple, nothing with an over complicated design or too busy if that makes sense?  Of course I wanted my blog logo and colour was no question that I was looking at there being a lot of pink – it is not for everyone but it most definitely is for me!

After speaking with the team I sent over my logo and then pretty much left them with my vague brief for the design knowing I was in capable hands.  I was introduced by email to the designer who was dealing with my kit and within a couple of weeks I was sent some ideas.

You are sent a link to the design portal with a password specific to me to see the designs, which are 3D so you can move the image of each piece of kit to see what it looks like from a number of angles.

I think there were only 3 or 4 iterations of the kit including the addition of the strapline for my blog ‘be fearlessly unapologetically you’ being added to the back centre pocket of the jersey and gillet.  One design looked a little similar to something else I had seen and they were quick on hand to change.

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What I really like about the team is that they are so easy to talk to and bounce ideas off of, always happy to help.  They also keep you updated from the start, when the order is placed and when it has been received and sent out.

What I was also impressed with is that the quality was exactly the same as my club kit and kit sent to me that can be ordered off the website.  Perhaps this is an odd thing to note but I have experienced first hand before where kit ordered from a brand has a different quality with the custom kit compared to off the shelf range, with custom kit being a lesser quality.

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I should note that as I stated I have used BioRacer for a number of years with my cycling club for kit and have also worked with them to review products but all opinions are my own and I chose to work with them on my kit as I know how good it is.  So I can highly recommend them if you are looking for either off the shelf kit or custom range.  I am incredibly happy with the finished product!

A Personal One From Me

This year marks ten years since I had a hysterectomy – getting a little personal with this one.

I won’t go into details but after having our son quite young and then years of pretty horrific gynae experiences it was decided this was the best course of action. And yes all other options had been exhausted (you’d be amazed at the amount of comments I get around this as if it was a throw away decision)!

It took me a long time to really get to grips with this – for my husband and I to go from years of trying to get pregnant including fertility treatment to need this was a massive blow. However, it was the sensible option.

Once I turned 30 I was booked in and one month later it was a done deed. I had what is called a total hysterectomy, which is removal of the uterus, including the cervix.  It’s a major operation and whilst I still have my tubes and ovaries recovery was nonetheless a long and depressing road. There was lots of tears, I can only describe it to feeling grief. Having very little mobility as I recovered meant I piled on a lot of weight.  I felt sluggish, tired and out of breath all the time but as I was still coming to terms with the op I’d had done I just wallowed in a lot of self pity, which ultimately made it worse, simply compounding the issue.

Earlier this year, in March, I went to a talk at Look Mum No Hands with Jasmijn Muller called Train Like A Woman, which was focused around how to train and work with your hormones in mind.  May seem a little odd for someone who has had a hysterectomy to attend but as I still have my tubes and ovaries they continue to make hormones, so whilst I do not have periods I still feel the symptoms and on top of that over the past year I sometimes get hot flashes, and was told by my GP that this is because the surgery may have blocked blood flow to the ovaries, which can also prevent the ovaries from releasing estrogen.  The joy of being a woman!

There is a high chance I will experience menopause earlier than the usual average age of early 50s and recently I was talking to a couple of ladies I know who are experiencing perimenopausal or linked symptoms.  Perimenopause usually starts in the 40s but can begin earlier for some.  It is when the ovaries stop making eggs and a transitional period before menopause but it can last for up to 10 years.  One friend made a great point that people have an instinctive reaction to compare themselves to others but that we are all at different stages in our lives and going through different experiences and challenges.  Energy levels can reduce but you could be working just as hard, if not harder, to maintain the minimum output.

Lets also not forget hormonal anxiety, which can be debilitating for ladies who were otherwise confident.  It can be a huge problem for some people (although not all), as what you used to do instinctively ie group rides with people, can then mean you second guess yourself and your ability to do things, which then affects your cycling and your morale.  This was a great point from a friend of mine that I can totally relate to.

Another friend of mine noted that she had been on the pill with artificial hormones for so long that when she came off it at the age of 40 it was a massive shock for her to deal with the peaks and troughs of hormones through the month and heavier periods.  Ironically she feels like she knows and understands her body better as a result and wished she had known how to do that 25 years ago!

Another friend I know who  has also had a hysterectomy has experienced hot sweats that just came on like a wave and went just as quickly.  She also notices lack of energy some days and feels she is definitely more angry on occasion.  Weight is another area she has noticed is easy to put on and increasingly harder to keep off.

The symptoms of menopause, and perimenopause, can be reduced through regular exercise and many find exercise to improve quality of life (though of course exercise will not stop these symptoms).

I have personally found over the last year I can cycle one day and feel amazing and super strong and then an easy recovery ride another day can seem like the hardest thing in the world.  Something I am sure many people can relate to.

There was an article on BBC News featuring a lady called Emily Barclay called ‘Perimenopause: I went from triathlon training to needing naps’ that can be read from here.

I realise a subject like this is not often talked about but why not?  A lot of us don’t identify these symptoms with certain stages of female development and talking about it more will raise awareness, share experiences and advice.

Any questions please feel free to ask as I am more than happy to break down the barriers and talk around this.

 

Training Update

Six weeks ago I wrote a post about how I was changing up my training and was intentionally trying to lose weight whilst doing so.  This was not because I believed losing weight would solve my problems or make me happier as I am more than aware that is not a healthy way to make life changes but because I was uncomfortable, had put on weight and wanted to make positive changes.

I have said before but I am lucky that my husband is a qualified cycle coach so he writes my bike training plan and my best friend is a qualified personal trainer and nutritionist and she writes my strength and conditioning plan.

The new plan was for a six week period and on day 1 I received a message from Emma, which included the following:

‘This is a kickstart not a diet!!  I’m looking to change your way of thinking when it comes to exercise and good decisions.’

Before we began we had a consultation and completed starting measurements, weight and dress size and Emma also completed a fitness challenge that saw how many reps of squats, press ups and sit ups I could complete in one minute and how long I could hold the plank position for.

The six week period is not just about weight but about fitness, mental health and healthy eating.  Each week included 2 personal training sessions and 3 home workouts/classes.

For the 3 home workouts Emma would send me the complete workout so I knew exactly what to do, for what time, with what rest in between and no two workouts were the same so always something new to keep it interesting.

Emma gave me a booklet to complete which included a lot of information, pages to complete and also a food diary, mood checker, taking note of things during your week and noting them down, a wellness checking with the focus on being more mindful, self love and gratitude.

Fight Klub was a new addition to the schedule on a Tuesday night and so much fun!  Great music, cardio for an hour working with others.  I have terrible coordination when it comes to classes like this but I got it in the end and it was a great release too!

Emma and I used to train together all the time and I had missed that so was great to get back to training with her.

Every week I would complete a food diary and send to Emma for feedback so I could amend as needed.  It was interesting writing a food diary as I soon noticed my meals were often quite repetitive and often not enough especially on training days.

  • Week 1 and 2 – went great!
  • Week 3 – was my first week of working from home due to COVID-19 and that was when I was extremely busy with getting things organised as my company prepared to work from home for the foreseeable.  Whilst training sessions continued from home (I am lucky to have a home gym), I reviewed my food diary at the end of the week and found I had skipped meals all over the place and I’d had way less water than I should!
  • Week 4 – I was making a conscious effort to pre plan and have a huge bottle of water with me at all times and that worked so much better.
  • Week 5 – I was in the swing of things and even not having the face to face sessions and different structure meant things were kept on track and kept interesting.  Emma continued with clients via video for PT and spent a lot of time recording workouts that clients had access to – this meant I started some different workouts than I had done before including Power Wave and Boxercise.
  • Week 6 – in all honesty I hadn’t even noticed I was six weeks in.  On some plans I have reviewed before I have been on count down until the finish but with every workout until the end being different this was definitely not the case here.

Working in a gym meant Emma had her workplace shut down due to COVID-19 but was on the end of the phone at all times to assist and send me over workouts to complete, review the food diary and check up on how I was doing.

In addition to the above I also continued with cycling and saw myself complete a 30 day streak on Zwift since working from home.

At the end of the six weeks I completed the following again to see if I had made any improvements:

  • my fitness test – improvements in reps for all exercises and time to hold a plank
  • measurements – overall loss of 11 inches
  • weight – overall loss of 8lbs

It was just the kickstart I needed and definitely kept me on track and helped with focus during the lockdown and now I move on to start my new cycling plan and will ensure strength and conditioning continues to go alongside this.

Cycling Terminology

Have you started cycling and people are asking you things you have no idea what they mean or get confused with the terminology?  I know that was my experience when I first started and even four years on there are some things I am unsure of so you are not alone!

It is easy when you know this stuff not to think about it too much but there is so much to learn and understand, and it does come with time!

So here is some terminology that you may find useful:

  • Cadence – the number of revolutions (complete turns) of the crank per minute and the rate which you are turning the pedals as you ride (revolutions per minute, RPM).
  • Di2 – Shimano electronic gear system.
  • Crank – the arm that your pedals connect to.
  • Aero – serious cyclists will do anything to be more aero, meaning be more aerodynamic.  This can include many elements not just the bike but also kit and anything to help with less wind resistance for maximum speed.
  • Drops – most road bikes have handlebars with a curved part at the widest point, which is referred to as the drops – used by cyclists mostly for sprinting or on flat roads.
  • Bottle cages – the attachments to the frame to hold your water bottles.
  • Stem – the part of the bike that connects the handlebars to the front fork steerer tube.
  • Lid – another name for your helmet.
  • Chaingang – cyclists riding in a group that rotate turns on the front to share the effort load.
  • Peloton – cyclists riding in a large group.
  • Bibs – shorts or tights worn as cycling kit that have straps that go over your shoulders (they are more comfortable even if you do look like a wrestler).
  • Chamois – the pad in bib shorts/cycling shorts/bib tights.
  • Chamois cream – cream applied to under areas (most polite way of describing the area) to avoid chaffing when cycling.
  • Power – energy you are putting out when cycling, measured in watts.
  • Presta – the valve you can see on your wheel that is used to inflate/deflate the inner tube.
  • Shifters – the gear levers on your handlebars used to change gear.
  • Cleats – the attachment to the cycling shoe that clips in to your pedal.
  • Bike fit – conducted by a specialist or qualified bike shop to ensure the set up of your bike is correct for both comfort and performance.
  • Sit bones – the area that carries most of your weight when sitting, I would recommend having a fit for a saddle where they measure your sit bones to recommend you the best saddle.
  • Drafting – when you ride directly behind another rider and by doing so you use less energy.
  • Tempo – not quite full maximum effort, but roughly 76% to 90%.
  • Bonk – nutrition is key when cycling (as in many other sports) and if you bonk it is basically a sudden loss of energy if you have not fuelled correctly.
  • Chainring – some bikes have a triple chain set up but most are double which has the big ring and little ring.  They are the metal discs with ‘teeth’ that the chain sits on, connected to the crank.
  • Carbon – carbon fibre material used for some bikes, benefits claimed to be a more comfortable ride and they are generally lighter in weight.
  • Clincher – reference for tyres that are used that clinch to the rim of the wheel as the inner tube is inflated.
  • Cassette – rear gears, cogs found attached to the back wheel of the bike.
  • Derailleur – front derailleur guides the chain into either the big or little ring in the front. The rear derailleur guides the chain on to your selected gear while keeping tension in the chain.
  • Granny gear – the little ring often used for climbing.
  • Strava – an app to record your rides – if it’s not on Strava did it even happen?
  • Audax – latin word for bold and in cycling terms refers to a long distance ride that is completed within a set time limit having a brevit card stamped to prove that you have been to necessary check points.
  • Sportive – an organised cycling event.

And lets not forget the acronyms:

  • SPD – Shimano Pedalling Dynamics – one of the many clip in pedal/cleats, more commonly used for mountain biking but often also used for road cycling too.
  • SPD-SL – as above, more commonly found on road bikes.
  • MTB – mountain bike.
  • RPM – revolutions per minute or how many full rotations of the pedal per minute when you are cycling.
  • FTP – functional threshold power – maximum power you can sustain for a given period.
  • AP – average power – what it says really – the average power put out when cycling over a set time/distance.
  • CRIT – criterium race – which is general a short distance, high speed, including many corners type of cycle race.
  • TT – time trial – a ride that covers a set distance and is timed.  These can be done solo or 2-up, which is where you can work with another person. Also known as the race of truth as it is you and the bike!
  • MAMIL – middle aged man in lycra (a term often used by those who are not as fond of cyclists).

You’re welcome – now chat like a cycling pro!

British Cycling Level 1 Coaching

I recently passed my British Cycling Level 1 Coaching qualification and added a post about this on my Instagram and Facebook.

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So what is this course?  Well British Cycling have a number of qualifications you can get to develop your skills.  In terms of the coaching qualifications on offer these run sequentially and Level 1 is the Foundation Coaching Cycling which covers the following in relation to delivering the essential techniques of cycling and coaching:

  • safety and risk assessment
  • safe coaching environments
  • getting to know the riders
  • equipment checks
  • warm up exercises both on and off the bike
  • planning, reviewing and delivering sessions
  • techniques and skills

To pass and use the qualification you also need:

  • to sign and agree to the British Cycling Code of Practice
  • emergency first aid qualification
  • safeguarding for young people and vulnerable adults
  • DBS check (a criminal record check)

So you can rest assured coaches with British Cycling have all necessary additional qualification and checks completed for safety and peace of mind.

The course includes two practical training days – one being a development day and the other the main assessment day.  Both days include working with others on the course and delivering sessions, getting feedback from others before the main assessment.  For the main assessment I had to complete:

  • risk assessment documentation
  • document a 60 minute session plan on the technique of leading and following on the bike (including warm up on and off the bike, the main session, cool down and feedback/evaluation)
  • deliver a clothing check to the group
  • write and deliver a 15 minute session plan on the technique of cornering

Working with other like minded individuals is great and I found on my course we were all from different areas within the sport of cycling with some having raced mountain bikes, being bmx riders, part of cycling clubs of just adults, just children or both with differing levels of experience.

As well as the two face to face days there are a number of online modules to study and complete including an online theory assessment.  Don’t underestimate the online modules as they definitely help with the two face to face days and there is a lot of information to cover if you want to do it properly and as you work through the modules you get links for the different documentation you will use as a coach including, for example, session plans, evaluation forms and incident report forms.

You receive two books as part of the course which are:

  • Coaching Handbook
  • Coaching Workbook

And why did I want this qualification?  I share a lot of my experiences on my social media, my blog is my journey and I thought gaining this qualification would enable me to share more knowledge with others both online and also face to face.

I chose this course with British Cycling as they are the national governing body for cycling in Great Britain.  Being someone who is passionate about cycling I admire the many initiatives that British Cycling have put in place to encourage more people into cycling and make it more accessible.  Some of the initiatives include:

  • Breeze Rides – free led bike rides for women
  • Go Ride – helping encourage young people into the sport as part of cycling clubs and also within schools
  • Bikeability –
  • One In A Million – campaign to get one million women on bikes, which was achieved earlier this month
  • Places to Ride – funding for organisations to develop a national network of cycling facilities also including equipment.

And yes I will be looking to do Level 2, which focuses on developing coaching skills.  Level 1 enables you to deliver the sessions and techniques set by British Cycling and Level 2 allows me to write my own sessions and deliver them.

So can I interest you in getting on a bike?

Talking Weight Loss

On my journey I am the first to admit that I became obsessed with losing weight and lost the fun out of being active.  When I shifted my focus to concentrating on being healthier and happier I became just that.

However, why is it so taboo now to want to lose weight?  I won’t go back to being obsessive about it, but if it is done in a healthy way why is that wrong?  I debated writing this for a while as I knew I would probably get some push back but this is my journey and as per my strapline ‘be fearlessly unapologetically you’ I am doing just that.

I will use myself as an example.  I want to lose weight.  I am not currently comfortable in my own skin, in fact far from it. There I said it and I will not apologise for it either.

I want to be stronger on the bike and make sure when I complete my endurance events I feel confident in my training and myself too.

I know from previous experience what works to get the results I want to see on the bike and one area to use an example is to be better on the hills.  Less weight helps with this and the biggest weight on the bike?  Me!

Now don’t get me wrong I have a blog called Fat Girl Fit and I do not fit into the norm for what sporty people look like and honestly I don’t care!  I embrace what my body has achieved and will continue to achieve.  I love people I have met through social media on my journey and those I love engaging with the most are those who are real, honest, true and relatable.  Perfect hair, make up, tiny waist, fuelling on low calorie foods for sporting events, never breaking a sweat or embracing that sweaty selfie?  Influencers that have a huge following but clearly don’t know anything about the sport or kit their promoting but fit the mould so brands use them to promote their products and it sticks out like a sore thumb? Yeah I am not following you, you are not for me and I am probably not for you either and that is fine with me!

I’ve seen the benefits of strength and conditioning training in my cycling and will be ensuring I regularly incorporate this into my training schedule again, initially with weight loss in mind also.  I am lucky that one of my best friends is also a fab personal trainer and is helping me with this, as she previously did.  I can’t recommend this enough and know many people who have worked with her and seen the benefits.

In short my opinion is that if you want to lose weight and are doing it in a healthy balanced way that is fine.  An important point in that sentence is in a healthy way, how you choose to do this really tells if it is the right thing to do and coming from the right place and don’t forget appearance doesn’t equal health.  I do not want to lose weight to look a certain way or because I loathe myself.  I know why I want to lose weight and it doesn’t change any feelings I have about my own self worth.  I have a healthy relationship with fitness. And I am good with all that.

I started a new six week training plan as of today so will update in due course!

Indoor Trainers for Cycling

Love them or hate them turbo trainers definitely serve a purpose for cycle training.  It may be that with recent dire weather it is safer to continue training indoors than risk coming off in the severe wind and rain we have been experiencing in the UK, or you may opt to use a turbo trainer to get in a more structured workout.  I have had this post in my drafts since February but given the current situation with COVID-19 I know I for one have been using mine more then ever and so it seemed timely to post.

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I have included detail previously about how I use my turbo trainer to get in more structured workouts that are better completed using a turbo trainer than on the road where there are too many variables.

Depending on the sort of turbo trainer you use you could see a difference in performance compared to on the road.  As noted above this can be down to variables outside of your control.  What do I mean by variables?  I mean stopping at junctions and traffic lights, build up of traffic, weather, diversions, punctures or mechanical’s to name a few.  The other difference (which honestly can be huge) is whether or not you are not using a smart trainer.  One of our first turbo trainers that I used was not a smart trainer and you controlled the resistance yourself and I could do an hour session and my average speed would be 25mph and upwards.  This is not my ability when on the road (I wish)!  It was a massive shock to the system when i got a smart trainer let me tell you!

So what is a smart trainer?  When you use a smart turbo trainer you will connect to some technology to help you get more from your workout.  These turbo trainers will adjust the resistance according to the workout so for example if you are on a hilly course the resistance will increase to simulate the same effort as if you were on the road and riding up a hill.  You will also hear the term ERG mode and this basically means that the trainer adjusts the resistance for you to help you hit a certain target power level without needing to change gear.

Some people opt for standard turbo trainers and use these with power meters though you will not experience the change in resistance as mentioned above and you will need to change gears to replicate this yourself.  With a standard turbo trainer you will not be able to connect to programmes such as Zwift, Sufferfest or Trainer Road (or similar) unless you have additional items like cadence sensor or speed sensor.

Of course smart trainers are more expensive but once you have experienced the difference between the two you will almost certainly be sold on the smart trainer, or at least speaking from personal experience I can say that is true for me.

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We have had a number of turbo trainers to date including the following:

  • Rollers – Tacx Antares £164.99.  Now rollers require balance and are something of a fine art, in my opinion, which is why I have never used them!  My husband, however, has (albeit also needing some time to master them) and they do not attach to the bike in any way, you simply ride on the rollers.
  • Smart rollers – Elite Arion Smart B digital £348 – these are my husbands and no I would not attempt these as I would be on the floor pretty quickly but I am always pretty mesmerised by those who use rollers and appear to do so effortlessly with perfect balance!  Smart rollers like a smart turbo will adjust resistance so balance and power are required at the same time here.
  • Turbo Trainer – Tacx Blue Matic magnetic turbo trainer £139.99.  This is a trainer where you leave your rear wheel on the bike and attach to the trainer.  I’d recommend using a turbo tyre for this as the make up on them is slightly different and they are designed to stop overheating.
  • Smart fixed wheel turbo trainer – Bkool Smart Go.  Like the above where you leave the rear wheel on but have the additional functionality of resistance from being a smart trainer.
  • Smart direct drive turbo trainer – Wahoo Kickr £999 – we have two of these, which sounds like a massive luxury but we first got one 5 years ago and it is still going strong and as we often find we both are training on this equipment we invested in a second so my husband and I have one each.  Direct drive turbos are basically where you mount your bike directly on the turbo by removing the back wheel.  Your chain will then run on the cassette attached to the trainer.

Now some turbo trainers can be loud!  I have friends that were worried to use at home for fear of upsetting the neighbours.  We are lucky ours are in our home gym so won’t offend anyone and to be honest I am so used to it now I couldn’t tell you if they are noisy or not.

I have a mat under mine as I find it is a total sweat fest.  Invest in some good padded bib shorts, always have a hand towel, bottle of water and a fan!

If you have someone who will write you a plan and sessions that are tailored for your training then fabulous!  If not you can do an FTP test and follow one of the many plans from the programme you choose and they are also very effective.  I use Zwift and there are different routes and sessions available to use.  Doing an FTP will ensure you are getting the most from the workout at the levels that are suitable for you.  Handy hint – there is no need to do the long FTP test – it has a longer warm up period and that is it, the short version complete serves the purpose!  I also have friends who do the Ramp Test instead of FTP though I have not yet tried this so cannot comment.

I am on week three of working from home and I have been starting every day with an hour on the turbo trainer, which has started my day nicely though I do need to remind myself to rest also!  My husband and I also thought it was funny to call this our daily commute (the pic was a joke and we do not actually wear our helmets, coats or bags!).

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Do you have a turbo trainer? Love it or hate it?

 

Start of our adventures with our camper van!

My husband and I have discussed getting a camper van for some time now and last year that became a reality.

We had been leasing a car for a number of years and as that came up to the end the discussions about getting a camper got more serious and we figured why not?

There are so many options when looking for a camper van and it’s so easy to get lost in it all so we decided to start from basics and focus on what we would be using her for (it would seem I have decided the van is a her).

Our son is now 21 (yes we were young) and so whilst a lot of our friends have young children we have more time on our hands.  We knew we wanted something we could travel, sleep, and relax in just the two of us but also with our dog and should our son wish to go with us to also have room for him too.

There are so many makes a models available and then there is the option of buying to complete as a project or buying already converted.

After many many many hours of research and you tube videos and discussions with other van owners (mainly by my husband I admit) we had a wish list and started looking with some seriousness.

We had decided on a Volkswagen T5.1 and knew we wanted one that had either already been converted or to find someone who could do this for us.  We have previously owned a Volkswagen Beetle that was a project but life got in the way and it never was financially possible 10 years ago, so we knew this option would be best for us and also mean we had it ready to use quickest.

We wanted the following:

  • 6 speed
  • air conditioning
  • electric windows
  • pop top but would have had the right camper without
  • not lowered (lowered versions seem to be more popular but we knew we wanted to be driving it off the beaten track sometimes and so we were looking more at the off road look with a higher ground clearance)
  • fridge/freezer
  • sink
  • hob
  • gas hook up
  • storage
  • double bed

We found someone who came highly recommended and they kept coming up in comments on social media and located in Wales – SW Vans and they were super helpful!  My husband explained what we wanted and what our budget was.  After a couple of months chatting with them they were unable to find the 4Motion van we wanted converting.  They were either reserved at the auctions or stupidly over priced.  Terry at SW Vans suggested for what we wanted a 2 wheel drive was more than good enough.  So after a short trip to wales and a test drive we had picked our van.

Since purchasing we have added the following:

  • black out blinds made and fitted
  • side steps on both sides
  • new wheels and off road tyres
  • wind defectors on the front windows and bonnet
  • dash camera and reverse cameras installed
  • new head unit (stereo)
  • additional lights on the front for better illumination when wild camping
  • this weekend we bought a fixed Thule awning at the camping show, just waiting for it to be installed.

So far we have used it for day trips and taken the bikes out in it too and have loved every minute of it.

We have the following trips planned so far:

  • Ireland to do the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
  • Sweden for the Vatternrundan bike ride
  • Norway for one of the Styrkeprøven bike events
  • Ben Nevis for hiking
  • Scafell Pike for hiking
  • and who knows where else!

We have also had many trips to shops looking at items we need for the van and it seems we are creating an endless list – do you have a camper?  Any hints or tips on things that are essential?

Happy camping!