With the Stade-Bianche and the Paris-Nice taking place last weekend, it’s safe to say we’re at the start of the race season! Now the days are getting longer and the weather is warming up (ignoring the intrustions from Freya & Graham) we thought it time we spoke to our friends and fixed-gear supremos The North London Thundercats to get some tips on kick starting our riding and getting race-ready for the season ahead! 

DAVE NOAKES

 How do you get ‘race-ready?’ 
I don’t follow a specific training plan but I do have a loose plan in my head. I split my training into 4 weekly blocks, easy, medium hard and really hard. The specific workouts are pretty random, it depends how I’m feeling on the day.

What are some tips for a first-time racer?
Don’t be afraid to get dropped, my first race was brutal, I immediately got spat out of the back. I set myself a goal to finish and was happy I did, I went away knowing what to expect next time and set myself a more challenging goal.

How do you fuel for a race?
I love pasta, it’s my favourite pre-race meal! Usually 3 hours before a race. Just pasta, pesto and some cherry tomatoes.

What is the best way to recreate the feel of a race?
It’s hard without actually racing, doing group rides/club runs is a good start.

What tips would you give to improve someone’s riding?
I know that this seems like a cop out answer but riding lots is key!

Marginal Gains! What is a small change that can make a big improvement to your riding / racing?
Doping has helped a lot of pros in the past, though if your moral compass is aligned correctly then riding position plays a big part…or posh wheels.

What is a surprising or unexpected change that has improved your riding?
Thinking positively 

What sums up a perfect days riding? Any route recommendations?
Anything where it’s warm and sunny, it doesn’t matter where i’m riding or the bike as long as it’s hot!

What was your first race & how was the experience?
My first race was in Devon, it was insanely fast. It was a cat 2/3/4 race with mostly all cat 2’s I was immediately hanging off the back although I did finish the race. 

 

LINA BIVAINYTE

How do you get ‘race-ready?’ 
Personally, I have a fairly balanced view towards training and racing – first of all it has to be fun. So I tend to increase the miles that I do, incorporate different types of riding from doing usual Regents laps, to some spicy intervals, track, hill sessions and long rides on weekends. Then trying some early season races to race yourself fit. Anything that is more varied and fun basically! I’m not a huge fan of sitting on a turbo, but just been given a smart one to try by our sponsors Wahoo, so looking forward to putting it to use when the weather isn’t great for riding outside.

What are some tips for a first-time racer?
It’s good to get some experience of riding in a bunch, so you can be a little more confident in a race when you have people around you. Then it’s all about riding to your own ability and respecting each other. And if we’re talking safety – no half wheeling and plenty of looking around to know what is going on in the race. Lastly, just enjoy it and have fun!

How do you fuel for a race?
Most likely with some overnight oats with almond or coconut milk in the morning if the race is in the early noon. A decent aeropress coffee is a must of course. Other than that, I tend to bring a small bar like Cliff or Naked and maybe a gel just in case I’m needing extra energy. Also not forgetting the hydration the day before, it’s so important.

What is the best way to recreate the feel of a race?
Get a few friends together and practice some drills on a safe course. We also do this intermediate training session at Herne Hill Velodrome on Saturdays, where it finishes with a simulation of a race with a sprint at the end, so that’s as close as it gets.

What tips would you give to improve someone’s riding?
I think the more you ride in a bunch and do a variety of different riding, the better rider you will become. Different types of riding will give you a variety of skills that are useful across multiple disciplines and that will improve each of them. 

Marginal Gains! What is a small change that can make a big improvement to your riding / racing?
Not sure how small this is, but getting your core stronger will be a massive help with your sprinting and stabilise the position on your bike. 

What is a surprising or unexpected change that has improved your riding?
As I only used to ride fixed gear bikes, getting a decent road bike improved my riding so much. I was able to do so much more and include hilly and longer rides into my training. If there is anything stopping you, then think what may be, save up and get it. 

What sums up a perfect days riding? Any route recommendations?
A longer ride with friends somewhere into one of the Essex cafes with plenty of food and finished off at the pub. I’d recommend Mayfield Bakery or The Bakehouse, where you can get your hands on some delicious baked goods. Shout at me if you’d like a route for these! 

What was your first race & how was the experience?
Pretty sure it was the first edition of London Red Hook Crit – a bit balsy… I remember wanting to try it, but I was scared and my friend Marigold said if you’re going to do it, then I will too. So we entered haha! For those who don’t know, it’s the biggest fixed gear criterium in the world – full of strong amazing athletes, so obviously this was slightly intimidating but also such an epic experience. We finished and there were many times I though I was about to die, but also just wanted to do it again and again. What a crazy first race! Then I got totally hooked. 

 

JOHN CARLO CORPUZ

How do you get ‘race-ready?’ 
I usually train in Regent’s park for high intensity training and in country lanes for endurance and for learning how to control my power and pace. I don’t really count my miles, they just go straight to my legs anyway. 

What are some tips for a first-time racer?
Enjoy your first race, be confident with all the training you’ve done, do not worry about the result, just give everything you have and learn.

How do you fuel for a race?
I eat a lot of carbs, i eat nuts during race days as snacks , drink a lot of water and coconut water.

What is the best way to recreate the feel of a race?
Everything is a blur but all I can remember is the pain. I guess the stronger you get the better you are at remembering your races. It’s a blur but when I think about the races I’ve done, it gets my heart beat faster, it gives me adrenaline .

What tips would you give to improve someone’s riding?
Try to join a club and learn how to ride in a pack, learn the fundamentals and rules while riding in a pack or alone. Watch a lot of pro races and amateur crit racing. Learn from your mistakes.

Marginal Gains! What is a small change that can make a big improvement to your riding / racing?
Bike fit, being comfortable on your bike is the main thing, small adjustment in your seatpost will make a lot of impact during a race or a ride. Stretching , do not forget to stretch before and after riding or racing. Rest, rest is very important just like training.

What is a surprising or unexpected change that has improved your riding?
A used to train on my track bike because I only had a track bike, I didn’t like the look of road bikes because of the cables haha. But then my friends persuaded me to buy a road bike, and that’s it, I was surprise how much faster I could go on my road bike and how much fitter you get when you train on a road bike.

What sums up a perfect days riding? Any route recommendations?
Perfect days are when you ride with your friends, specially when it’s warm and sunny. There’s just something about the sun, it gives everyone energy. I ride with friends because I dont download the routes hahahaha

What was your first race & how was the experience?
My first race was Thundercit I (I wasn’t part of NLTCBMBC), i got dropped really hard, but I promised to myself that I’m gonna train hard to beat everyone. That race gave me motivation and hunger to win and I was very thankful to the team for organising it, you can even ask Rob to show you the messages I sent them after the race 😬

 

JO SMITH

How do you get ‘race-ready?’ 
I do a lot of racing all year round and somehow my coach (Black Cat Cycle Coaching) always manages to get me race ready! As a teacher, I have very little time available for training each week, so everything I do is very specific. The best way to get race ready is to race though, even if you’re not quite there in terms of fitness, there’s nothing like a race to get you back into it!

What are some tips for a first-time racer?
Just go for it! Racing is hard, but it’s fun, listen to advice, and don’t let people intimidate you, how fast they look does not equal how fast they are! 

How do you fuel for a race?
I’m so fussy about pre-race food! I can’t eat anything in the three hours leading up to a race, otherwise I freak out that I’m going to puke it up (it has happened!) I try to eat a proper meal 3h beforehand though, and a bottle of energy drink in the hour before the race while I warm up. I’ve not raced more than an hour for a few years, so there’s no need to fuel up during the race. When I raced the road in France, my favourite stage races snacks were stroopwaffles and brioche filled with cream cheese – though I’m sure there are better snacks!

What is the best way to recreate the feel of a race?
RACE! Nothing can recreate a race like racing does! It doesn’t matter if you’re fit, get out there, ride in the bunch for as long as you can, and remember how to hurt yourself! A  club local to me runs race training sessions, and those are almost as good – excellent for practicing attacking (irritating the men) without worrying about getting dropped afterwards – you can always latch back on next time around!

What tips would you give to improve someone’s riding?
Train more specifically, get enough sleep and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

Marginal Gains! What is a small change that can make a big improvement to your riding / racing?
Drink enough water early in the race/ride!

What is a surprising or unexpected change that has improved your riding?
When I stopped racing in France and started teacher training I was pretty convinced I wouldn’t be competitive in races ever again. A few trips to the local track league and getting my legs ripped off by Abbie Dentus made me realise that I definitely still wanted to! That’s when I found my coach and I am still amazed at how much I’ve been able to achieve on so little training – coaching works!

What sums up a perfect days riding? Any route recommendations?
A perfect day’s riding is a day out in the sun! For me, spring is more about getting the specific training in, but it’s so good to get out on the club run, ride as hard or easy as I feel like, and drink good coffee at the end! 

What was your first race & how was the experience?
I really honestly don’t remember which was my first race! The first one I remember was at the ‘Rally Challenge’ which was the predecessor of the BC Go-Ride racing. It was one day a year and all the youth cycling clubs in the country bought their riders aged 4-16 to race around the car parks of the Manchester Velodrome! There was a time trial and a skills test – I remember that Hugh Porter was commentating and I got cross half way round the TT because he got my name wrong (it still happens regularly!) Another early racing memory was racing the boys as the only U14 girl, I was definitely going to win and then one of them knocked my off the track and I did a huge face plant. He fell off too though so I got back on and got 2nd while the other guy was still getting back on his bike!

 

HENRY SUMMERS

How do you get ‘race-ready?’ 
I don’t have a specific training plan through the year but I try keep some form of training as a constant. I know my strengths and weaknesses so as a general rule I try and work on my weaknesses through winter, mainly endurance fitness, and top up my strengths in summer, sprinting and top end speed.

What are some tips for a first-time racer?
The main thing is awareness of what’s happening around you, so not cutting people up in corners and looking before moving left or right. There’s lots of little things you’ll learn but one of the most important to not overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel in front in case they suddenly move sideways.

How do you fuel for a race?
I try and eat something carby like porridge in the morning to give me energy for the whole day then top it up with something sugary like chocolate shortly before the actual race. For some events, like Thundercrit that we organise, I’ll do a couple of races through the day so it’s important to eat something between them.

What is the best way to recreate the feel of a race?
It’s nearly impossible to fully recreate a race situation but I go to training sessions at Herne Hill velodrome which are great for practising riding as fast as you can for an hour.

What tips would you give to improve someone’s riding?
One of the most helpful things is practicing group riding. The velodrome is great for that but also just getting out into the lanes with friends and getting used to riding close behind/next to other people.

Marginal Gains! What is a small change that can make a big improvement to your riding / racing?
One of the most beneficial things is probably making sure your bike fit is right. It doesn’t have to be going out and spending loads of money but it could just be asking some more experienced people that you ride with or paying attention to any pains or numbness you may get after being in the saddle for a while. Numb hands may mean your handlebars are too low etc.

What is a surprising or unexpected change that has improved your riding?
I think something that’s helped has been doing different types of riding, so getting in to cyclocross as well as the road, track and fixed crits. The cyclocross has helped with learning how to keep speed through corners and avoiding obstacles without touching the brakes and riding fixed has really helped with cornering and accelerating out of corners.

What sums up a perfect days riding? Any route recommendations?
I like to go out in to Essex, the lanes are brilliant when the sun’s out and it’s easy to add extra miles and there’s a loads of cafes to stop in at half way and they all seem to specialise in cake.

What was your first race & how was the experience?
My first race was a road crit at Lee Valley Velopark, it’s where I’ve done the most races too as there’s weekly Wednesday evening races through most of the year.

When getting race ready, don’t forget to keep your ride secure! Nothing would hinder your training plan more than your bike disappearing. If you’re planning a refuel stop during a ride make sure you keep any opportunist thief at bay by taking a lock with you. Our recommendation for the perfect cafe lock is our Z LOK – at less than 100g you won’t be able to blame it for any slow Strava segments, but is the perfect balance of security and convenience for your jersey pocket. If you’re on a group ride, Z LOK can be ‘daisy-chained’ to lock multiple bikes, or alternatively our FLX cable lock has a retractable 1m steel braid cable to keep your rides secure. 

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