Sunday, 14 September 2014

Race Report: 14 Hills Killer 2014

Go big or go home. That seemed to be the mantra for today's 14 Hills Killer. In truth, the reason I chose to do the 14, rather than the 7 this year, was just because it started closer to home; it saved me riding out to Freshwater from Sandown to start! Turns out the 14 was one hell of a challenge...

Conditions were near perfect; it's been dry for a long time in the later part of the summer, and it's left the Isle of Wight trails as dusty as I've ever seen them. With a decent easterly wind, it looked like we'd have a helping hand on the outward leg to Freshwater as well, countered by a nice headwind on the way home!

Pre-event involved a fair bit of faffing. The checkpoints are normally in pretty similar spots, but my old riding buddy Jamie had laid them out yesterday and hidden them in rather different locations. I'd decided not to take a map, but on finding the "fresh" positioning of the marks, rather wished I had. Photos on my phone and scribbled notes with a chinagraph pencil on my handlebars ensued...

After the start it all blends into one a bit to be honest. The first few checkpoints were a bit tricky to find, but things went smoothly enough. The one in Brighstone forest was the real killer, and involved me taking a rather inefficient loop through the forest to eventually regain my bearings.

From Brighstone, it was up and over Mottistone, including a dog-leg to get to a hidden checkpoint; then up Freshwater Down and down the rapid golf course descent.

Freshwater was were things went a bit dodgy... using the photo on my phone to guide me I managed to go down the wrong road for at least a mile, turned around, and then proceeded to go down another wrong road for another mile. Eventually I found the checkpoint. A bit flustered, I raced up Freshwater Down, but then realised halfway up that I had forgotten to go to the furthest checkpoint at the 7 Hills Killer start! A painful decent back into Freshwater, a desperate race to the checkpoint and a rather adrenaline fuelled re-ascent of Freshwater Down followed. It must have cost me a good 30 minutes in total. That will teach me to study the map a bit more carefully.

After the Freshwater mishap, it was a lot smoother on the way back. The legs were beginning to feel heavy and the building headwind wasn't doing any favours either, but it was just a case of churning away, on what were now fairly deserted trails in the West Wight.

I rolled back into Lake feeling pretty out of it, in a time of 5 hours 11 minutes. Despite the Freshwater drama, that time was enough to earn me the top spot on the rankings; 40 minutes ahead of Jamie in second place.

The 7/14 Hills Killer really is a great event, every time I do it (even the time it involved completing it in the tail-end of a hurricane) I find it really enjoyable.

Today reminded me how tough mountain bike racing can be: sitting at 82% of max heart rate for over 5 hours is a good indication. It's made me keen to do more of it again though; the search for a carbon 29er hard tail has begun!

Blood, Sweat and Gears (and a very nice pair of GripGrab gloves)
These notes were not quite enough to keep me on course for the whole time...
Shattered, but smiling.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Weekend Watch: Sophie Radcliffe's 'Alpine Coast to Coast'

8 countries, 8 highest peaks... #ridemore

This great film showcases the alpine coast-to-coast challenge, an incredible world’s first by adventurer Sophie Radcliffe. Her epic adventure started in Trieste, Italy, from there she proceeded to cycle across the 8 alpine countries and climb the highest peak in each; finishing in Monaco after 32 days.

"Cycling over mountains every day was the most empowering experience in my life. It's incredible to see what you can do with self-belief, drive and a thirst for adventure. the film has captured the beauty of the adventure perfectly." 

Sophie wore the adidas’ women’s Supernova Cycling range for the entirety of the cycling stages on the Alpine coast-to-coast, which I reviewed on the blog earlier this year (Link).
Taking inspiration from Sophie's Alpine Coast to Coast, I am hoping to undertake a similar challenge next September: riding the highest road passes in the 8 Alpine countries, over the course of two weeks. It won't quite compare with the feat of climbing the highest mountains on foot, but it would still be an epic adventure. I wish her the best with her future adventures, and hope I can make mine a reality too.
 Cool Info-graphic:

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Review: MaxiNutrition Promax Lean Shakes and Bars

MaxiNutrition is the new incarnation/combination of MaxiMuscle and MaxiFuel; two iconic brands that provided sports supplements to some of the best athletes in the world. Maximuscle was the most well known brand though, and of the Maxifuel products that I tried, it was the muscular recovery shakes and bars that I was most fond of and found most effective. With the new Maxinutrition Promax Lean range looking like a great option for cyclists then, I was keen to try it out and see how it aided recovery.

Promax was my preferred protein shake when I was rowing (although the price was often an issue as a student); it proved to be the most effective at mass-gain and muscle growth. Promax Lean is a stripped down, low-fat and low-sugar option; which is perfect for a cyclist that is wanting to put on lean muscle without the mass gain.

As has historically been the case, Maxi products follow some of the latest science research. Owned by Glaxo Smith Klein, this is a firm founded in science. Predictably, the Promax Lean products are the height of current research on aiding recovery and muscle growth; containing critical nutrients like Vitamin B5, CLA, Carnitine, Caffeine and of course a mix of high quality proteins.

The latest science then, but does it work?

 I think a real benefit is the low-fat and low-sugar composition of the bars and shakes. A lot of major recovery products are packed full of sugar, which isn't necessary after a hard workout (you're better having a complex carbohydrate). The low-calorie count is also a benefit it you want to recover, whilst also losing weight.

I've used the Promax Lean for a few weeks in place of other recovery products, combined with a healthy and structured diet it seemed to do an effective job of aiding recovery, whilst also dropping fat (I used a body composition scale to monitor progress). It does seem to work then; it aids Lean definition. The caffeine content is also highly effective at stopping you falling asleep at your desk after a hard training session.

Both the bars and the shakes also taste great! A significant added bonus.

The only downfall for some might be the price; these aren't cheap (around £50 RRP for a tub of Promax Lean). However, this is high quality stuff and has noticeable benefits.

I'm looking forward to trying more of the Maxinutrition products; it's appears that they hold all the merits, quality and effectiveness of the Maxifuel products.

Maxinutrition is available from (Link)
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