Cyclocross for Triathletes and Winter Training

If you’ve had a long season on the road and are ready for something new, why not give cyclocross or CX a go.  When the weather turns and you don’t want to get your racing bike wet or dirty CX is a fantastic alternative.  Cyclocross bikes are very similar to road bikes but with more powerful brakes, easier gears for riding off-road and more clearance between the frame and tyres.  Build your strength, aerobic and anaerobic endurance and give your bike handling skills a boost.  Learning how to perform a running dismount and remount for hurdles in a CX race will see you running past people in your triathlon transtions and gaining vital seconds.

You can pick up a used hand bike for around £500 with disc brakes or new from £800.

Scott CXNot sure what Cyclocross is all about?

“Skinny tyres, mud, short, sharp off-road races, with hurdles, obstacles and intense action. That’s cyclo-cross, a form of off-road racing that predates mountain biking by decades.”


If you’re based in West London there’s some great coaching and training sessions run every Thursday evening between October and December each year.  British Cycling Development Coach Mac has a real passion for the sport and is happy to coach you, whatever level you’re at.

If you’d like to know more please get in touch.


Saturated Fat & the Balance of Omega 3 & 6

Eatwell Plate

As is often the case when new research comes to light, disproving a ‘diet-heart’ theory that has formed dietary recommendations since 1977, there tends to be confusion in the media.

I’m lucky to have a close relationship with an Accredited Sport’s Dietitian that keeps me up to date & in this case share advice to implement the latest findings on saturated fat before the – on average – waiting time of 17 years between research & practice.

To summarise in a direct quote from the Updated Evidence in the X-PERT Educator Manuals, November 2014:

“Advice to incorporate polyunsaturated fat into the diet through processed vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn, safflower & spreads has led to an unbalanced intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.  The ratio was previously 1:1 prior to the agriculture revolution but has now increased to 16:1 in westernised populations.  Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory whereas omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and therefore the balance needs to be reinstated to reduce systematic chromic inflammation.  Polyunsaturated fat, due to the multiple double bonds, are also less stable and thus more prone to oxidation forming free radicals that lead to cell damage, Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) & cancer & therefore readdressing the balance between the different types of fat will assist with cell integrity.

…”The recommendations to eat unprocessed foods with saturated, monounsaturated fats & some omega-3s from fish & grass fed animals, but avoid trans fats & omega-6 rich vegetable oils & an excessive intake of high GI carbohydrate has been shown to improve health status.”

This doesn’t mean that you should eat lots of butter, just that butter, for example isn’t as bad for you as it was once thought.  Its really important that you continue to eat well as part of a healthy, balanced diet, with sources in the approximate proportions shown in the ‘Eatwell Plate‘ diagram below:

Eatwell Plate

‘Cycling with Cheese’

With so much on offer around Sainte-Foy, the team at 45 Degrees North are introducing the nicknamed ‘Cycling with Cheese’ week as a new addition in 2015!  It is primarily aimed at people who love to cycle but are relatively new to the sport or take a more leisurely approach to their riding.

With less time in the saddle you get the chance to explore the local area.  Whether you would like to take the scenic walk to our local fromagerie, visit the market or try many of the more adventurous activities available or just kick back on the balcony this week could be for you!

Tales from Tajikistan, it was quite eventful!

Ever heard of the Pamir Highway?  Its the 2nd highest road in the world & we cycled over it with 20kg of panniers on our 10kg bikes!  Here’s our latest blog.

Sneak peak:

Well, we have been chewed up and spat out by Tajikistan. The last few weeks have been beyond hard and we are all looking a little worse for wear as a result. We being, me, Chris and a good proportion of our gear. The Trolls have come into their own though and handled the terrain well which is good because we chose them with Tajikistan in mind. So was it worth it?

My wasp stingThinking back, the injuries started way back on day one when a wasp flew under my sunnies and stung my face. I woke up at the Yeti Hostel in Dushanbe the next morning with my face feeling strange, so took a selfie to see what was wrong and nearly fell out of my bunk when I saw myself. It didn’t stop us getting out into Dushanbe though. I perched my sunnies lop sidedly on my face and we hit the streets in search of high energy snacks, pasta, oats, some warm clothes and a GBAO permit for Chris – we had a high altitude adventure to prepare for!

Enchanting Uzbekistan

How many people have even heard of Uzbekistan, let alone cycled through it?  Here’s how we got on, detailed in our latest blog post.

Sneak preview:

We were sitting by the side of the road somewhere between Samarkand and Bukhara eating fresh pomegranates that a man had walked by and handed us, when a boy of around 12 years old galloped past bareback on his donkey. He was in pursuit of three bullocks which had also just galloped past, jumped a canal and disappeared off down a slope. The boy paused on the embankment to look at us looking at him and gave a wave before kicking his donkey and galloping off after his charges. I’ve never seen anyone galloping on a donkey before, let alone bareback and I suddenly had the most surreal feeling of wow, I’m in Uzbekistan!

Azerbaijan – Desert, Dogs & Bond Street

Ever fancied cycling through Azerbaijan?  We cycled across it from Georgia to Baku on the Caspian Sea.  Read about it here.

Here’s a sneak preview:

Cycling into Azerbaijan was in many ways like returning to our long lost friend Turkey but, and at the risk of offending any of our new Turkish friends who may be reading, with a little more order. At least superficially in the way the fields and crops are laid out in clear, tidy rows and the produce sold at roadside stalls is stacked into perfect pyramids in separate baskets on purpose built shelves rather than being heaped on a table or left in the car boot. Almost immediately we noticed similarities with the language and the general interest and friendliness we received from the people we passed.

Cow print is all the rage in western Azerbaijan

Georgia, the Long Way Round

There’s 2 ways into Georgia from Turkey, the coastal route through the city of Batumi & a myriad of dangerous tunnels & the other way.  Read about it here.

Sneak peak:

Into Georgia. Near Vale at the Turkish borderSo onto Georgia and a wholly different country from Turkey but a great experience all the same. We entered the country through the ‘back door’ so to speak. With no trace of tourism in sight and the local families all hard at work cutting hay in the fields, we were a little thrown at first. The first villages we came to were silent, with no visible shops or banks, just fairly impressive huge grey houses with shady gardens and plum trees lining the road. The signs are cyrillic so unhelpful to us initially. We reconsulted the map and kept riding until we came to Akhaltsikhe, a large town in the shadow of an enormous restored castle. We withdrew some Lari from an ATM and it wasn’t long before Chris had sniffed out the cheesy pie shop on the High Street and ordered a selection of this national delicacy.



Gule Gule Turkey

Our last post in Turkey as we head on towards Georgia.  Read about it here.

Sneak preview:

After a wonderful rest day in Trabzon where we treated ourselves to a night at a hotel, ate everything that took our fancy and had a good cleanse in the hamam where I was laid out on a marble slab and scrubbed, washed and massaged by a professional wearing leopard skin knickers until she was satisfied I was clean, we remounted our Trolls and got serious about getting to Georgia.

Tea in the Rize hillsWe continued along the Black Sea coast for 140km or so through the tea growing  region of Rize. Given the amount of Cay we have consumed over the past few weeks it was nice to see where it comes from. Every inch of arable land in the region is covered in tea plants. They even grow out of the drains on the D10! Loaded up trucks trundle along with leaves blowing out of them scattering the coastal road. The air even smells of tea thanks to the number of factories accumulated in the region.

Turkish Hospitality

For our latest blog post on our cycling adventure through Turkey please take a look at our sister site 45 Degrees North.

Here’s a sneak preview:

imageIt goes like this: Chris and I are walking down the main street of a town, Espiye, with our phones out looking for a cafe with a wifi signal. A man comes up and asks Chris (always Chris) where we are from. ‘England’ replies Chris. The man takes out his phone and makes a call, says a few words including England, and hands his phone to Chris. The man’s daughter is on the other end who asks Chris in limited English what we’re doing. ‘Looking for wifi’ replies Chris. He’s told to hand the phone back. The man finishes the call and taps the shoulder of the closest man sitting outside his shop drinking cay with friends and has a brief conversation including the words England and wiffee. The new man jumps up, runs to the other side of the narrow street, picks up a pebble and throws it at the window above his shop. A man sticks his head out and a shouted conversation including England and wiffee ensues after which the man comes promptly down from his office with his wifi code on a piece of paper. We connect to his signal and stools are drawn up for us on the pavement to join the three men already sitting there. The first man carries on his way job done, the other returns to his office, cay is served to Chris and I and a lively conversation is started in Turkish/English with our three new companions. We learn who they are, get tips for Trabzon sightseeing, are served Turkish coffee (which knocks your socks off if you’re not careful). We completely fail in our quest to find accommodation for Trabzon in two nights time because it’s impossible to search and continue the conversation, but we do learn a couple of new Turkish words to add to our growing vocab and generally have a pleasant time. And this is not a one off experience, but can happen several times a day, though not usually in the busy towns or cities.

Istanbul to Amasra

For our blog post on this section of our journey please see our sister site, 45 Degrees North.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Camping by a lakeMy first impressions of Turkey have been that the food is fantastic, the drivers are considerate, nearly always giving a friendly honk and wave as they pass – in both directions, and the people always seem to be there when we need them. For example, on our second day on the bikes, we had planned to get to Bolu, a ski resort town which would be our first proper climb. We’d spent the day on the D100, a busy highway, doing rolling hills in 39c heat. As we approached the bottom of the climb at around 5pm I needed something to eat to keep me going. We stopped and turned around to go back to a bakery but no sooner had we turned the bikes than a guy called us over from a shop veranda for cay (tea).