Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bont Shoes - Good Enough for Wiggo! Are They For You?

I have weird feet. Stupid fat duck feet. Plain and simple. They're wide, short, have high arches and a high instep to boot (see what I did there...) Ahem. This is a bit of a problem for someone keen on cycling. For the last few years I've achieved a mediocre it with Northwave who offer a relatively wide fitting shoe for an Italian maker, but in recent years they have come up much narrower. I found this to my detriment after investing (a lot I might add) in a brand new pair of Evo Tech SBS's. I rode them once and then had to sell them on. The lasts (the mould to which the shoes are built around) have been changed to accommodate a much narrower foot profile than that of my webbed trotters, so it was back to the drawing board for me. I tried them all; Shimano, Specialized, Fizik, DMT, Sidi and Giro to name but a few.

Then I tried a pair of Bont Vaypors on and, well, the rest is history as they say. The first thing that strikes you when you put your first pair of Bonts on is the stiffness. My god they are stiff - it's like clopping around in a set of clogs, making you feel like the little mouse on the stair. This stiff sole means excellent power delivery and spades of support for your feet. Pull them on and they feel a little odd, the uppers are quite stiff, as if there isn't any give in the material. This would normally lead one to assume that the shoes are going to rub, create pressure points and give you all those little niggles that are so commonly associated with ill-fitting shoes. This would certainly be the case if you couldn't mould them to your feet.

Yes folks. You read that correctly. MOULD THEM TO YOUR FEET! This is a tech-head ecstasy and it really couldn't be simpler. Head down to your friendly Pearson Cycles branch in Sutton or Sheen and have the shoes sized and fitted correctly. You then take them home in the rather posh bag that they come supplied with, bung 'em in an oven preheated to 70 degrees, wait 20 minutes, let them cool for a minute or two, put them on, tighten them up and BOOM! These suckers mould to the shape of your feet! What if you don't get it right the first time? Bont have thought of that - you can remould their shoes as many times as you like! So you can say goodbye to hotspots or pressure points, no intrusive seams or joins - it's as if they were made for you...and I suppose to a certain extent they were. When you opt for the top tier Vaypor model they come in standard, narrow and wide options to ensure an optimum fit. These shoes are quite simply brilliant.

So, a little more detail. Naturally the soles are carbon, albeit ultra-stiff, wafer thin carbon so you can get a great feel for the pedals and they give a real sense of efficiency when you put the hammer down. The sole's mouldable heel cup wraps slightly heavier than one would usually expect, ensuring that it stays firmly in place. It also comes up much higher around the sides and front of the foot than other shoes so the front of your foot sits in the sole rather than on top of it. This means that if you have wide feet like Yours Truly, your feet won't 'spill' over the edges - an issue I can certainly say I've experienced in the past which can lead to instability and a reduction in power transfer as well as your shoes potentially splitting along the sides. There are also two rubber protectors on the toe and heel sections which are replaceable with a Philips head screw.

The grid reference on the sole makes cleat setup a doddle. Also note the replaceable toe and heel defenders.

The uppers are constructed from shiny faux leather. This material has proven easy to keep clean and shrugs off road spray with ease. A single Velcro strap, unusually rearward facing to draw your foot back into the shoe, is assisted by a very effective micro-step ratchet which easily allows small increases and decreases in tension over the top of the foot. The toe box is perforated with 34 small holes (yes, I counted them) to aid ventilation for the 3 days of sunshine commonly associated with British summers.

The shiny white faux leather is very easy to keep clean. Also available in black.

Speaking of the toe box, this part of the shoe takes a slightly unorthodox, yet highly logical approach to shoe design. Rather than the traditional winkle picker style they actually follow the form of most human feet. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? It makes perfect sense!!! The toe box is also reinforced with a rubber bumper to protect against any scuffs and scrapes..

The unorthodox, yet highly logical toe box shape. Note the rubber protection

To make things even better the Bont range begins at just £125 for the A-Three. This model offers the same infinitely mouldable system but in a heavier, less stiff format. There is a mid-range A-Two at £175 which introduces a full carbon sole, improving upon the A-Three's stiffness and weight. Bont also offer a plethora of specialist models for use in varying disciplines such as track, MTB and triathlon, including the Zero as used by none other than Bradley Wiggins.

Bont shoes are now available at our Sutton performance and Sheen performance stores. All our staff have knowledge, experience and expertise in fitting (you know, the stuff you can't get online!) Whether it be or a new bike, a pair of shoes, a saddle, helmet, gloves, you name it - fitting is now the biggest focus of our business. Please call ahead to book an appointment on 0208 642 2095.

Written by James Thomas

Friday, 30 November 2012

A Winters Ride...

We can no longer deny it - the days are shorter and the temperature is dropping. Winter is well and truly upon us. So some of you may be pulling the trusty old Raleigh Super Sport out of the shed so as not to have your pride and joy covered in filth. But what if you were to do it properly? By this I mean a full blown winter-only hack bike. I have recently finished building my new Pearson EasyComeEasyGo and am now reaping the benefits of a perfect winter steed.

"The Clanger"

Steel is Real

I've opted for our frame as it utilises a Reynolds 631 tube set as used on our "I May Be Some Time" touring frames. We chose this particular tubing during the prototype phase due to its compliance properties, performing like 853 (the top-of-the-range tube set for this type of bike) and being heat treated to deliver a stiffer ride than its predecessor - 531. It also allows the material to be tig welded instead of using the traditional lug method of construction. The frame is a great shape - high at the front and short across the top which allows me to easily set it up according to my CycleFit.

Rider comfort is everything on this type of bike. It features braze-ons for full mudguards and rack. As this is my daily commuting bike as well I've fitted both. There is clearance for bigger tyres to ensure better grip in the typically wetter winter weather and a longer wheelbase for greater stability. We run a slacker headtube angle on this frame to further the stability and reduce toe overlap when running mudguards. With double bottles and a handy rear mounted pump, a complete frame weight tips the scales at just over 2kg, but for a training bike any additional weight is never a bad thing! In the winter your muscles burn more energy just keeping warm and are therefore less efficient. So riding a heavier bike through this grim period means getting back on my shiny MineGoesToEleven in the summer will make me even faster...or so I hope! Mine has been custom painted and renamed "The Clanger" - an inside joke between myself and some of the other staff.

The Spinny Bits

The wheels I've selected for this build are the excellent Mavic Ksyrium Elites. These offer the most "bang for your buck" in the Mavic range. Being lightweight, stiff and weighing in at a mere 1565g for the pair, they certainly retain a substantial tart factor. I've always loved Mavics. They go on for absolutely ages, the bearing quality is great and they star true for aeons. If I'm completely honest with myself, a good set of hand built wheels like Hope Hoops probably would have been more suitable given the type of abuse this machine is likely to receive, but I fancied something a little livelier for some of those steep Surrey hills. Ksyrium Elites are sold as a "wheel-tyre system" so they actually come with light weight racing tyres. I'm going to run these into the ground before swapping them out for a set of Vittoria Open Pavé CGs for better grip and puncture resistance.

Italian Stallion

I've opted for a mish mash of Campagnolo components for this build. Having a firm loyalty to the Italian maestros I find it hard to use anything else. I'm running 2010 Veloce shifters and a 2010 centaur 53/39 chainset. The rest of the build is current Veloce which I've found to be cheap, durable and functional. Just about any transmission would suit this kind of build so what I've opted for is purely personal preference.

Sun in a Jam Jar

The Strada. Also, note the thermos in the cage for those chilly rides!

For the shorter I've selected two different lighting options. For the commute I'm running Exposures excellent Flash and Flare rechargeable set. I adore these lights, they're lightweight, super bright, easy to fit/remove and all in a nice unobtrusive unit.

Exposure Flash Flare

For my main lamp I've also decided to fit an Exposure Strada Mk7. This little beauty chucks out 480 lumens of good quality light. It has three different brightness settings, a flashing mode and a battery indicator all integrated into one unit. Running the Strada allows me to put in the extra miles even when it's pitch black. It throws a wide, focused beam that'll light up even the dingiest of Surrey lanes.

The LED display on the back of the Strada notifies the rider of which setting they are currently using as well as the remaining battery power

No Zip Ties Please

SKS P35 Chromoplastic mudguards are a very popular choice among many riders offering full protection from the rubbish thrown up from the roads. They're lightweight, durable, easy to fit and keep both you and your bike clean. Chromoplastics are also a lot more secure and do not rattle as much as the plethora of 'half guards' out there. A lot of riders have fitted the Crud Road Racer 2. However, I found these to be much flimsier than the P35 (I snapped the front one in the first week!) but they do offer decent protection if your bike doesn't have eyelets or sufficient clearance.

I commute with panniers so I've fitted a Tortec Velocity rack. A relatively lightweight, yet streamlined and good looking offering - not much to say about this other than it allows me to carry bags without spoiling the lines of the bike. On to this I've attached a single Ortlieb Front Roller Plus pannier. This smaller bag is actually designed to mount to low riders on the front of a touring bike, but I preferred the smaller size seeing as I don’t carry a huge amount into work. These are the de rigueur bag for most touring cyclists as they're extremely durable and completely waterproof - almost to the extent that you can submerse them in water thanks to their seamless construction and roll top closure. Bars, stem and seatpost are basic models from Deda and they're finished off with a Fizik Aliante saddle and Fizik tape.

In my opinion this is the ultimate winter bike. It's smooth, relatively lightweight, fun and inspiring to ride. The EasyComeEasyGo is a custom bike so you can build yours however you wish. They are available to purchase from both our Sutton performance and Sheen performance stores. Frames retail for £499.99 with complete bikes starting at £999. Demo models are available and, if you're lucky, I may even let you ride mine!


Happy hacking!

written by: James Thomas - Sutton Pro Shop Manager

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Is cycling proving to be a pain in the neck?

Neck pain usually relates to the prolonged time that cyclist’s necks spend in an extended position. It can be attributed to 3 primary factors:

  • Poor body positioning or posture
  • Poor bike fit
  • Overload/overuse/over doing it

  • Poking your chin forwards and hyperextending your neck places stress and constant compression on the posterior joints in your neck, particularly if sustained for a long period of time. When a cyclist logs many hours of riding, there is repetitive sub-maximal loading on the upper back and neck causing micro-trauma to the tissues, which can lead to pain, damaging inflammation and clinical injury.

    Overusing cervical extensors and upper trapezius muscles will lead to painful fatigue of these muscles. When a muscle undergoes sustained contraction for a long period of time, the circulation of blood into that muscle becomes compromised due to pressure on blood vessels. The muscles are starved of precious oxygen and nutrients while being asked to perform with a continual workload which can lead to painful muscle spasms and trigger points. Trigger points are small knots that form in muscle and adjacent muscle sheaths (fascia), which send pain signals to the brain and contribute to a pain-spasm-pain cycle. This increased muscle tone can also further compress the joints at the base of your neck.

    One of the main causes of neck pain in cyclists is poor posture. Sometimes it is simply a bad habit that needs to be corrected. However, if you are unaware of this posture and are unable to recruit/activate the muscles required to put you in an ideal one it will be difficult to correct. Your goal on your bike, and anywhere for that matter, is to maintain a good neutral spine posture. This is the position where there is the least strain on your knots for the most efficient amount of muscle work.


    Poor Posture

    Good Posture

    Poor bike fit can exacerbate poor posture. Improper position of the seat and handlebars can place abnormal stress on the neck and shoulders. When everything on your bike is in the correct position, this spine posture should be more natural and effortless.

    Some common bike fit errors are:

  • Drop too low - if you need to crane your neck to see down the road, you will be forcing your neck into an overextended position. Over time this position will create joint strain from the sustained poor posture. The cervical extensor muscles which hold your head up will fatigue with prolonged use. This problem is exacerbated when riding on the drops or on TT bars.
  • Saddle tilt too nose down - a saddle that is tilted too nose down will cause you to slide off the front and you will place more weight on your hands to hold yourself up. Your upper trapezius and shoulder muscles will work unnecessarily hard to support your weight, leading to early fatigue and pain.
  • Handlebar (over)reach - a shoulder angle of between 80 and 90 degrees (depending on your torso angle) provides the most stable and efficient support for your upper body. Overworked muscles lead to painful fatigue and wasted energy. The reach can be shortened by adjusting stem length, handlebar width and handlebar shape.
  • Poor fitting glasses or helmet - may partially block your line of sight, forcing you to hyperextend your neck to see down the road.

  • Assuming that your bike is set up well, here are some simple tips for improving your on-bike posture:

  • Shoulders should be relaxed - think about creating a space between your shoulders and your ears. Reverse shoulder shrugs can be helpful.
  • Elbows should be unlocked, with a slight bend to act as shock absorbers so that road impact is not sent straight up to your neck and shoulders.
  • Change your hand position regularly to offload joints and reduce muscle fatigue.
  • Regularly stretch your neck during more relaxed parts of your ride.
  • As cyclists build up their training volume they often suffer from aches in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine due to the lengthy periods for which they maintain their flexed trunk and extended neck position. The training for any cyclists intending to build up to a high weekly mileage should be gradual and structured to slowly build up tolerance and condition. During this time your physiotherapist will ensure that any joint stiffness or muscle tightness is attended to, whilst also teaching correct posture and muscle activation for cycling.

    Postural exercises for scapular retractors (and especially for lower trapezius activation) are essential to minimise neck problems, as is lower/deep abdominal activation for a stable core. Poor core stability results in an inability to hold your trunk and spine in a good position. This in turn can put extra weight on your hands and force you to over-reach and overextend your neck.

    Monday, 29 October 2012

    Scaphoid Fractures

    Our physio, Nicole Oh, writes about a common injury across all disciplines of cycling, having learnt the hard way during her season of road racing...
    The scaphoid is one of the carpal bones on the thumb side of the wrist and is the most commonly fractured carpal bone. Fractured scaphoids usually occur from a fall on an outstretched hand. There is no obvious deformity and little swelling. It often improves relatively quickly meaning it is commonly mistaken for a simple wrist sprain. To further complicate diagnosis, the fracture is often not visible on x-ray shortly after injury.

    Diagnosis

    On examination there is likely to be tenderness over the anatomical "snuff box", over the scaphoid tubercle and on the scaphoid compression test. Scaphoid fractures are most commonly diagnosed by x-rays of the wrist, although as mentioned above, they often do not show up for 10-14 days post injury, especially with non-displaced fractures. Also, standard x-ray views may not pick up all scaphoid fractures and a special scaphoid view (wrist in ulnar deviation and extension) may be required. After this time, if a scaphoid fracture is still suspected, a CT or MRI may be ordered to aid diagnosis. CT and MRI should pick up scaphoid fractures immediately after injury.

    Treatment

    Until a definitive diagnosis is made, the patient may remain splinted to prevent movement of a possible fracture. Once diagnosis is made, it is usually treated by immobilisation in a cast for 6-12 weeks (for non-displaced fractures.) Scaphoid fractures often take a long time to heal due to its uncommon blood supply. Unlike nearly all other bones in the body, the blood supply enters the bone distally (near the hand) rather than proximally (towards the forearm.) The main blood vessel is commonly disrupted by the fracture, which slows the healing process and can even cause death of the proximal fragment of the bone (avascular necrosis.)
    Displaced fractures, or fractures in the proximal third of the bone (poor blood supply) are likely to need surgery. A screw or pin is inserted to stabilise the bone, sometimes with a bone graft to help heal the bone.

    Complications

    Complications include non-union, malunion, avascular necrosis, or post-traumatic arthritis. Many people seek help many months after the initial injury with persistent pain or poor wrist function, often because the fracture is misdiagnosed or neglected in the first instance.

    Physios are the Worst Patients!

    Read on, if you want to know how NOT to manage a scaphoid fracture...
    I crashed in a Devil race on the track back in June. I fell heavily on my left side but got back on and finished the Omnium I was racing in that day. Despite not being able to move my left hand or grip the next morning, I did a 10 mile TT. I went to A&E for an x-ray 4 days later as I had quite a lot of snuff box pain, but it was clear (although a scaphoid view wasn't taken.) With the help of taping and a splint, I continued to ride my bike and work as a physio.
    I didn't go back for re-x-ray after two weeks as I should have, but instead completed the Marmotte! The wrist was feeling much better, so I resumed road racing and promptly crashed again, this time falling on my right wrist. This one didn't feel like it was broken so I didn't bother with an x-ray and just continued to ride and work with taping and a splint.
    A month later, my right wrist was still very painful, so I got both wrists/scaphoids x-rayed. To my surprise, my left scaphoid had been broken for 8 weeks (across the waist, plus a chip off the end) but the right wrist was clear. Even more surprising was the fact that the scaphoid fracture seemed to be healing just fine, despite pretty much no immobilisation and a lot of use. When asked what should be done, the doctor said just to continue to wear my brace and not to fall on it again. I took two weeks off road racing and then finished off the season, thankfully crash-free!

    I've had a lot of bad luck with crashes this year, but extremely good luck with the healing of my scaphoid, especially since I'm a self-employed Physio! I will definitely be booking in for re-xray in a month or so, just to make sure it has healed. My best advice - Do as I say, not as I do!
    Written by Nicole Oh

    Wednesday, 17 October 2012

    Trek Domane Review

    Trek Domane 6.2

    So let’s get a couple of things straight. I don't like sportive bikes and I don't like compact handlebars (or chain sets for that matter). Anyone who has seen one of my bikes will tell you they are long and low and generally have very few concessions to rider comfort. My beloved Pearson hammerandtongs for example has no spacers under the stem, stiff as you like Ksyriums and a deep drop bar. So why, I hear you say, would I be interested in riding Trek’s all new mile muncher - the Domane?

    She certainly is a looker

    I've always been an admirer of Trek and the way that they design their products. They were one of the pioneers in carbon technology in bicycles and in recent years have led the way in commercialising and mass producing a cost and time effective "custom" product by way of their Project One program. Plus they promise something a little different with the Domane and different it certainly is.

    The model we have here is the 6.2 using the top of the line 6 series frame. It's the frame that Fabian Cancellara used to win the Strade Bianche in March. The Swiss rider has had an active and intimate input into the development of the bike. The 6 series frame is handmade in Waterloo, Wisconsin, USA and is only available via their custom Project One scheme. This allows the rider to fully customise anything on the bike from transmission to handlebars, wheels to paintwork. You can even have your own name or slogan written on the frame! More details on that if you follow the links below. This particular model has come equipped with a Shimano Ultegra transmission and Bontrager (Trek's in house component brand) RL wheels. It's finished off with Bontrager R1 tyres, RL saddle and RL handlebars. If you want one it'll set you back a cool £4000 but the range begins at £1000.

    Handmade in Waterloo, Wisconsin, USA

    I was a little sceptical when I first saw a Domane (pronounced do-ma-ney for those who care) The "ISOspeed decoupler" seemed a little extravagant, especially in an industry where fashion over function really takes precedence and fads come and go more frequently than the sun rises and sets. I was keen to try one all the same.

    The ISOspeed decoupler - one of the more drastic departures from traditional bike design.

    The ISOspeed system is essentially a set of cartridge bearings set at the top tube/seatmast/seatstay junction and designed to give the seatmast a degree of movement - aiding the amount of give from the frame and thus dampening vibrations from Britain's notoriously bad roads. In practice this system works extremely well, smoothing out road imperfections easily without destroying that "road feel" that is so commonly lost on this type of bike. The other thing that struck me (or not, so to speak) was how well the bike absorbed large impacts like potholes, it really is very smooth and carries speed exceptionally well.

    Remove the cover to find two sealed cartridge bearings. This allows a greater degree of movement in the seatmast, a sort of suspension if you like.

    One thing that has always bothered me with this type of bike is the lack of stiffness - particularly at the bottom bracket. This is another area where the Trek really surpasses expectations. Trek claim a 15% boost in stiffness over their current Madone model, now I can’t quote figures and percentages but the power delivery on this bike is nothing short of superb with no discernible flex in the bottom bracket, it really seems to revel in being pushed hard. The same can be said for the front end. The tapered head tube shows no signs of deflection under load and when matched with a slightly slacker 71.9 degree (on a 56cm) head angle creates a very sure-footed and stable bike to ride yet it still manages to retain some of that zing you get from riding a thoroughbred race bike - the comparatively short 100mm stem allowing quick and snappy changes in direction. This is no blend in with the crowd sportive bike. In fact after speaking to Trek it turns out that they don't call it a sportive bike, it's an "endurance race bike" - a very fitting description.

    I suppose what I'm getting at here is that this bike stands for everything I tend to dislike in a bike. It's high at the front end with a long wheelbase. It even has a compact bar and chainset but in almost contradictory fashion the Trek is fun and inspiring to ride, it responds with breath taking efficiency when you give it the beans and you can really lay it down flat in a corner. I think what really sets the Domane apart from most of its competitors is its ability to do it all. It's light and stiff enough to race but comfortable and stable enough for even the newest rider. Trek has built a gem here and quite frankly I don't want to give it back.

    The Trek Domane range is now available at the Pearson Cycles Pro Shop in Sutton

    Tidy cabling is routed internally, entering the headtube
    Yup, shes UCI approved, giving a nod to how Trek really expect this bike to be ridden. The mega-wide BB90 bottom bracket. Note the integrated chain watcher bolted to the bottom of the seat tube.
    The tapered fork has a wider profile when viewed from the front...
    Than it is from the side. This design allows a greater degree of vertical compliance while retaining all important lateral stiffness - one of the keys to the Domane's sure footed ride.
    Trek Project One

    Thursday, 30 August 2012

    A blog from Azerbaijan by John Newton

    Hi everyone,

    Well we all know what a massive global conglomerate the long established Pearson Group has become of late and as if to prove it here is a report from an Asian branch.

    2012 took off quiet calmly here in Baku and I managed a couple of Sunday sessions on the 1960s former soviet concrete velodrome in early January. For company I had a few of the local roadies who use the track as a meeting point post Sunday ride. However, February was another story. At pretty much the same time the weather struck Europe the “Windy City of Baku, Azerbaijan” had one dump of snow after another which lasted right through to the end of March. By then I was due a trip home and by the time I got back Andy, Rob and Dave had their new Pearson track bikes ready for action.

    The Velodrome in Baku

    The Velodrome in Baku

    Now for those of you familiar with Manchester, Newport, or are fortunate enough to have been on the boards at London, this is something quite different. I’m sure HS&E in the UK would have stopped us using it some time ago. We get there once or twice a week and, as an example of how different it is, we usually share it with locals on MTBs (bikes have only come to Baku in the last 12 months many locals have never seen them before) riding any which way they please, this is used to hone our track skills, children playing, it’s one of the few open areas in the city. I have also had guys on an electric scooter/bike, a child on an internal combustion powered mini quad!

    This week Rob suffered what we had expected for some time, a major blow out. Glass is ever present along with wind-blown poly bags, nails and lumps of grout out of the joints in the concrete. Yes its 300meters of pure fun folks and we love it. I’m sure if we wait long enough an Olympic bid will bring us a nice new indoor wooden bowl. Sorry about Dave’s lack of head gear in the pics he has a sprained ankle (ay?) and was there only for the photos and forgot his lid, oops!


    Written by John Newton

    Tuesday, 21 August 2012

    The Paralympics Are Nearly Here!

    With the huge success of the Olympics behind us we look forward to the Paralympics. Starting in just under a week they promise to be the biggest, most watched Paralympics in history. Great Britain’s Paralympians dominated the cycling medals table in Beijing, but can they do the same at home in London?

    Channel 4 are broadcasting the Paralympics over all 12 days of competition. There will be more than 400 hours of live coverage on multiple TV and online channels. The track cycling will be taking place between Thursday 30th August and Sunday 2nd September, the road cycling events are between Wednesday 5th September and Saturday 8th September.

    So, how do the events work?

    Classifications

    Athletes are split into four classes for competition. These are defined by the severity of limitation to their abilities to perform the sporting activities. The different classes also determine which cycle is used: bicycle, tricycle, handcycle or tandem.

    Classes

    B – Athletes with a visual impairment. They compete with a sighted pilot on a tandem bicycle.

    Tandem

    Tandem

    H1-H4 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs requiring the use of a handcycle.

    Karen Darke

    Karen Darke on a handcycle

    T1-T2 – Athletes with a balance impairment compete using a tricycle.

    David Stone

    David Stone on a tricycle

    C1-C5 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs, arms and/or trunk but compete using a standard bicycle.

    Jody Cundy

    Jody Cundy

    The numbers in the H, T and C classes refer to the severity of their impairment. The lower the number, the greater the impairment and therefore the greater the impact on their ability.


    Venues

    There are two venues hosting the Paralympic cycling.

    The Track

    The Velodrome in the Olympic park plays host with its 250m banked track.

    The Pringle

    The 'Pringle

    There are a total of 18 medal events spread over 4 days. There are four formats – Individual Pursuit, Team Sprint, Individual Sprint and Time Trial.

    Only bicycles and tandems are used in the Velodrome.


    Events


    Individual Pursuit

    Starting on either side of the track, two opposing riders race each other, the winner being the rider to either catch the other or complete the full distance in the quickest time. The men’s is four kilometres long, the women’s is three kilometres.

    Individual Sprint

    This is a straight race between two riders over three laps of the track. Starting together and slowly building speed until a max speed sprint finish this race tends to be a highly tactical affair with riders trying to psyche each other out, neither wanting to be the first to set off. It is one of the most exciting events in the Velodrome, often coming down to hundredths of a second separating the riders.

    Team Sprint

    The team sprint is a mixed event with teams of three comprising both men and women(C1-C5.) The fastest two teams through qualifying will race for the gold medal and the third and fourth fastest go for bronze.

    Time Trial

    1km for men, 500m for women. Athletes ride alone on the track, the fastest time wins.


    The Road

    Brands Hatch

    An 8km circuit of Brands Hatch and surrounding roads are the venue for the road events. There are 32 medal events across three disciplines. All four classes compete.


    Events


    Road Race and Team Events

    All athletes start together, first across the finish line is the winner.

    Time Trials

    Athletes starts are staggered by 60 seconds. Fastest time over the course wins.

    Team Relay

    Another mass start event. Each team consists of three riders each doing two laps. The team that crosses the line first wins.


    The Athletes

    Some athletes to keep an eye on

    Darren Kenny OBE

    Darren Kenny

    With 6 Paralympic golds, 2 silvers and 17 World Championship golds, Darren is certainly no stranger to winning! He also currently holds all World and Paralympic records in his class. London will be his third Paralympics competing in the Individual Pursuit CP3, Team Sprint and the Kilo CP3.

    Sarah Storey OBE

    Sarah Storey

    Starting off as a swimmer in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, she won two golds and three silvers aged just 14. She went on to win a total of 5 Paralympic gold medals, 8 silver and 3 bronze before switching to cycling for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics where she won two golds. She also competes against able bodied athletes winning the 3km national track pursuit championship just 8 days after winning gold in Beijing. She went on to defend her title the year after.

    More information

    Paralympics Home Page - for all information on events, getting to and from venues etc.

    Channel 4 Paralympic Schedule - for all details of events being shown.

    Official Ticket Site - There are still tickets available for purchase

    Wednesday, 6 June 2012

    Sorry!

    I want to apologise to everyone I have ever sold a bike to, whether it be a Specialized, an Orbea (need to say sorry to the Mrs for that one!), a Pinarello, a Trek or even God for fend a Colnago. I am truly, deeply sorry; I sold each and every one of you the wrong bike!

    I used to think that if you bought a Cervelo you could do no wrong, I’ve had three, and there was no higher art than the Italian mastery of a Colnago, or the cutting edge ride of a Parlee don’t even get me started on the Time RXR I had, BUT, and I say this with some humility (not easy for me) I WAS WRONG!

    I rode home on our test Guru Photon, and that’s it! I mean game over! As much as Di2 is a game changer, the Photon is the end game! Without a shadow of a doubt, no questions asked and with no hype, it is the best frame I have EVER ridden, hands down - the best!

    Guru Photon

    It’s not the weight (it’s light), nor the stiffness, or the ride quality, but as with all great things it is the sum of its parts, and oh so much more. I would have trouble putting my finger on it, but there is just something extra there, an understanding of material and ride that just works, and it doesn’t even fit me that well (yet!).

    I don’t particularly love the colour; Guru offer custom paint, I would have a different set up; if you’re buying one, why wouldn’t you run Di2, I would prefer an ISP (integrated seat post); Guru no longer offer this on a Photon (boo hiss!), but I just do not care. I would have this frame as it is in a heartbeat, it really is that good!

    Guru Photon

    Ride quality is a personal thing, that seems to be misunderstood by most, particularly those in the cycling press, but it is an individual thing that we all have a view on; until now, this frame is just right. I don’t care if you race crits or ride all day sportives, hell take it off road (great off road climb up Ranmore that I’ll do on Sunday) it just doesn’t faze the Photon.

    Look, I don’t know any way to put it than this….if you’re looking for a new frame, sell whatever you need to, I mean, kidney, child, house, the other half, and buy a Photon! If you are considering spending £7500 on a certain stock frame from California (I never thought I would say this) DON’T! Spend £4300 on a full custom Photon, and put a posh pair of wheels with the rest, or pay for a trip to the mountains and ride past the overpriced Cer…’s and laugh at the “trend setters”.

    Guru Photon

    I want this bike, I will have this bike, and I may never buy another bike after this…well, maybe!

    I am, however profoundly sorry to all those I have sold the wrong bike; even if their bikes did fit really well!!!!


    By Stuart Jeffries - Pearson Cyclefit

    Friday, 11 May 2012

    Box Hill on a Palace

    The new surface on Box Hill is certainly a sight to behold; it's just not something we are used to. Gone are the days when the strength sapping surface would take out every last bit of speed you had left in your legs, especially on the second hairpin. It's like the hill has been flattened off.

    Guy is riding a Palace

    I've fallen back in love with it having avoided it for so long and taken the parallel route of 'Little Switzerland' as my alternative way home after a gruelling ride in the Surrey Hills. This was the first day the road was open after resurfacing and the workman were continuing to resurface beyond the viewpoint at the top. When I got up to them I was greeted by an enormous cock and balls sprayed in white paint on to the freshly laid.

    Cock & Balls
    "I Love Olympics 2012"

    I had to explain to the bewildered workman the habits of cycling fans and warned them that all of it would inevitably be covered in graffiti soon enough. I think at the time I even said that it was the shape of things to come! Fnarf fnarf. Popping into the iconic Cycles Dauphin for a chat I noticed white paint on Jim's arm...

    Busted

    The whole trip was great and was finished off by a thrilling draft and sprint past a lorry on the dual carriage way down towards Banstead traffic lights. The driver of a car that followed me told me that I'd hit 50 mph and he couldn't wait to tell his wife!


    Words by Guy Pearson

    Friday, 27 April 2012

    “SPRING KNEE” – by Nicole Oh, Physio at Pearson

    Cycling is a highly repetitive sport, with a rider averaging about 5000 revolutions per hour of cycling, making overuse injuries of the knee commonplace amongst cyclists. The smallest amount of mal-alignment and incorrect distribution of load, whether anatomic or equipment related, can lead to dysfunction, impaired performance, and pain.

    Overuse injuries occur when a tissue accumulates damage caused by repetitive submaximal loading. Repetitive activity fatigues a specific structure, such as ligament, cartilage, tendon or bone. Without adequate recovery, microtrauma stimulates an inflammatory response that can damage local tissue. Cumulative microtrauma from further repetitive activity eventually leads to clinical injury. In chronic cases, this continued process can result in degenerative changes that lead to weakness, loss of flexibility, and chronic pain. Thus, in overuse injuries, the problem is often not acute tissue inflammation, but chronic degeneration.

    Anterior knee pain and patellofemoral pain syndrome are among the most common leg overuse injuries in cyclists. Injuries may be related to improper bike fit or equipment, poor technique, or inappropriate training patterns. Patients generally report that the pain is worse when the knee is loaded e.g. when climbing or descending stairs, during prolonged sitting or squatting, when climbing hills or pushing high gears. Chondromalacia, Quadriceps tendinosis, and Patella tendinosis are other conditions which can result in pain at the front of the knee and result from similar factors.

    Knee Pain

    This condition has been referred to as “Spring knee”, as it often rears its head with the onset of Spring, when the sun starts to shine and cyclists come out of hibernation! Either that, or they realise they should probably start training for that summer sportive they have entered, and hit the roads with too much vigour.


    Some of the contributing factors in developing this type of knee pain include:

    Muscle Tightness

    Most cyclists' quadriceps and hamstrings will tighten with prolonged riding due to the repeated contraction and shortening of these muscle groups. Inflexibility of the quadriceps, hamstrings, or iliotibial band (ITB) may restrict range of motion around the knee and are likely to increase the forces on the knee.

    Weak Leg Muscles

    May lead to fatigue-induced alterations in pedalling technique, which will also alter the forces on the knee. As muscles fatigue, their ability to take load decreases, increasing forces through the joint.

    Muscle Imbalance

    Poor activation of the inside quad muscle (VMO) and/or tightness/overactivity of the outside quad muscle (vastus lateralis) and ITB can alter patella tracking, increasing load though one part of the knee.

    Training Errors

    Include heavy training loads and high mileage (beyond what the body is conditioned to do), or a rapid increase in training distance or intensity, especially hill work.

    Gearing and Cadence

    Pushing hard gears at low revolutions puts high load through the patella, whereas lower gears at a high cadence (85-90rpm) will put less load through the patellofemoral joint with each stroke.

    Pedalling Mechanics

    Inside drift (internal rotation) of the knee, especially during the push down phase (and when they are tired) can be due to weakness of the gluts or inside quads muscle (VMO). This increases the lateral forces on the patella.

    Increased forces

    Saddle Position

    May be too low, too far forward, or both, causing excessive patellofemoral loading throughout the pedal cycle. When the saddle is low, the knee functions in hyperflexion, increasing compression of the patella on the femur.

    Cleats

    Improper shoe cleat position or float may force the rider to pedal with poor biomechanics, increasing patellar forces. Cleats with excessive internal or external rotation may cause exaggerated tibial rotation, placing more stress on the anterior knee.


    To treat and prevent “Spring knee”, you need to alter the amount of load going through your patella and surrounding tissues. Your Physiotherapist will be able to assess what is tight, weak, or simply not working properly, not only around your knee, but also around your foot/ankle, hip, pelvis and trunk, and design a program to address these issues. A cycling-savvy therapist will also be able to give you advice on training, technique and help you identify when you should rest or push on.

    Finally, a comprehensive bike fit is essential, looking at the 3 points of contact – saddle, handlebars and foot/pedal – and all the variations of. The saddle (height, fore/aft, tilt, type), shoe (insoles, wedges, size, width, heel support), cleat (position, float), crank length, and handlebars (reach, height, angle, levers) all need to be addressed, and finding the right balance between comfort, efficiency and injury with so many variables involved, takes the skill of an experienced bike fitter!

    Friday, 20 April 2012

    Lighter Than Air written by Phil Cavell of Cyclefit

    Thanks to Guy Pearson from Pearson Cycles for stepping up and helping with this review. My back problems are keeping me away from riding still.

    Guy on a Guru

    I did spend a fair amount of time on the Photon last summer and I managed to grab a short refresher this 2012 test-bike also. I value Guy's opinion greatly - I had a grudging respect for Guy for much of my racing career (he was on a different team) - we often seemed to end up in impossible breaks together and as a result contributed inordinate amounts of work to carry group of dandy free-loaders to the line. In short we are (in my case were) rouleurs not afraid to lean into the road ahead. Also like me Guy tends ride well in technical terrain where experience and smoothness keep momentum when some cannot resist the comfort of braking. We are also the same height and ten years ago resembled each other on the bike.

    Guys Calves!Guy's calves give chainstays something to think about

    And that's quite enough of the Guy love-in - lest we forget that nine years ago I would have happily burst my left lung to beat him in a sprint!

    'An Engineer's Bike'

    The design brief for the Photon was simple - build the lightest custom frame in the world ever. Sub 700 grams was the target weight. The actual frame the client receives will depend on their weight and riding style but between 650 and 750 grams is typical in our experience. This test-bike built up to 12 pounds or 5.8kg without any special effort at all.

    LightweightJust 5.8kg!

    To consistently achieve these unprecedented weights takes about forty man hours of precision engineering per frame. We were astonished when went to Guru in December just how labour intensive and micro-focused and controlled their carbon construction is - the whole place has the feel of a Formula 1 research lab.

    Guru or Laboratory?Guru factory or NASA Lab?


    Carbon But No Copy

    A significant part of the Photon frame is constructed with unidirectional intermediate-modulus, high-strength carbon. This gives a good balance of strength, feel and weight to the Photon fuselage. But in key high load areas the structure is reinforced with an incredibly high-modulus carbon weave, which by nature is stiffer and lighter. To work at this level requires skill, precision and time that would simply not be economic on mass-produced frames.

    40 Hours to Make a Photon!It takes 40 hours to make a Photon

    Similarly Guru use a significantly higher fibre-to-resin ratio than most manufacturers so the volume occupied by resin is minimized to enhance mechanical properties provided by the carbon filaments.

    The reason this is not industry standard is cost - the whole process is less forgiving and more time-intensive and therefore more expensive. This is only really possible on a handmade high-end product.


    Flying The Photon

    The Photon as outfitted here is exactly half the weight of my 1992 7/11 replica bike that is on display ten feet from where I am writing. Half the bloody weight! Now we are not weight obsessed here at Cyclefit but a bike this light writes its own script. Everything else is merely sub-plot because the main narrative is how different it feels to what you normally ride right?

    And this is not the lightest groupset, with the trickest brakes or freaky tyres and seatpost. This is solid everyday gear with the addition of Lightweight's entry-level Ventoux wheels. What Guru has been able to do by beating the likes of Parlee and Cervelo, not by sliver but a few hundred grams is astounding. Partly in increasing the overall power to weight of the athlete but more especially in the dynamic balance between the rider and the bike. It just feels like a re-defined relationship to what most of us are used to most of the time. You have a sense of your relationship to things in life: the weight of a full kettle, closing resistance of your car-door etc. And when things interact vastly from your experience and therefore what you expect, it is a paradigm shift. It is bewildering.

    Guy gets taken by surprise!The lack of bulk takes Guy by surprise

    And bewildered sums up Guy's first experience.

    "I did not expect that. Everything happens in a hurry - acceleration, turning, stopping. To start with the thing felt just to light to lean - surely it will fall over?"

    You naturally expect so much to have been sacrificed for light weight - the first casualties being ride quality and strength. But this really is not the case. The Photon has a well attuned harmony and resonance with the road and rider. In the thousands of hours Guru spent making the Photon light they also overcame all the challenges to making it ride well and strong. Myself and Jules witnessed the destruction rig at Guru and what it can do to a bike - look at the little movie the from the Guru Factory.

    The guru engineers are of the opinion that the Photon is the strongest carbon frame they have ever built.

    Guy RidingThe eyes have it

    We are about to equip GPM10 with Photon's as their staff bikes. Mark and his crew ride thousands of the toughest miles per year possible in all weathers. They crash a bit and throw the bikes on and off their roof-racks daily.

    £4400 - Frame and fork - Full Custom


    By Guy Pearson and Phil Cavell

    Tuesday, 10 April 2012

    The Right Fit

    Bike shops

    Bike shops are usually intimidating to beginners. When I was a boy, they were small, dingy places with sparkling steel racers sold by a nuggety old cycling pro who assembled them himself. Nowadays, they tend to be gleaming show-rooms, crammed with bikes starting at £1000 and ending with ethereal carbon slivers that cost more than a car.

    When bought my first road bike I was intimidated by the higher end places and walked into the local branch of a large chain. Thirty minutes later, I had test-ridden one Giant and one Bianchi up and down the road assisted by a teenager who advised me I was a "medium" frame by standing next to me. I chose the Bianchi because it was the prettier of the two.

    It was also the wrong frame size for me, it had too short a head tube, meaning I was to spend the next two years with my weight far too far forward for anything but a short sprint, it had no lugs for mudguards though I was planning to ride it all year round, and the stock tyres and brakepads were nothing short of lethal in the rain.

    Worse, as my rides progressed from two laps of Richmond Park to 50 miles on a Sunday, I was plagued with sore shoulders, a sore back, a sore neck, cramps in my hands and cramps in both calves.

    After many, many adjustments, a change of brakepads, pedals, pads, saddle, tyres, wheels, cassette and stem, I finally realized that the cause of most of my aches and pains on my increasingly-long rides was not poor fitness, it was poor fit. Which led me, belatedly to Cycle Fit at Pearsons.

    Cycle Fit

    Pearsons is a very nice bike shop indeed, and I have visited lots! It is located close to Richmond Park, right where I need it to be. It has approachable and knowledgeable staff, who do not laugh at foolish questions or push customers to buy things they do not need or that will not suit them or their style of riding. It has a coffee bar, an almost indispensable asset in the winter, when most of my rides seem to end there. I have lost count of the useful tips and bits of free advice and useful bits and pieces I have picked up there. Thèse guys all ride, they all like bikes and they like people who like bikes. That isn't always the case in bike shops.

    The Cycle Fit process would be a little daunting if it were not for the unflappable, methodical and reassuring presence of Stuart. He guided me through what is a fairly highly technical process, he answered my countless foolish questions and, like a magician, in two hours flat he identified what was wrong (everything) and set about putting it right.

    I chose to abandon the bike I should not have bought, it is my winter commuter now. Even the cycle fit process could not rescue the wrong frame size and the wrong geometry, but I have now improved my position on it using the measurements provided and I can bear to ride it for up to an hour or two at a time.

    I also ordered a custom- built bike, and I would say that the difference in comfort has to be experienced to be believed. I have now completed my first sportive (the Cape Town Argus) and a very hilly century ride in Surrey with less discomfort than rides of half that length round Richmond Park used to cause on my old bike. Because I am more comfortable I ride further, I ride faster and I enjoy my ride.

    Guru Praemio - made to measure titanium

    Guru Praemio - made to measure

    Equally importantly, I have more energy and enthusiasm for playing with my kids when I get home every Sunday!

    I would recommend a Cycle Fit session for anyone who is planning to ride a road bike for longer than one hour and or anyone who is planning to spend more than a few hundred pounds on a bike. You will save yourself a lot of time, money and discomfort in the long run.

     

    Words by Dr. Mike McPhillips

    Tuesday, 13 March 2012

    Cycling and Lower Back Pain

    Our Physiotherapy clinic has been up and running at Pearson Cycles in Sheen for just on 2 months, and overwhelmingly, the condition that I have seen most of, amongst both the clients I see for Physiotherapy and those that I observe having a Cyclefit, is cycling-related low back pain. Not only is the presentation similar, but also the precipitating factors.

    Low back pain during (or after) cycling is most commonly caused by prolonged flexion of the lumbar spine. Like any other joint in the body, if you put it at its end of range and leave it there, it will start to hurt. Discs will be compressed, ligaments overstrained, and muscles overtensioned. Pain can be localised to the low back, or it can refer into the buttocks, thigh, leg and foot. And whilst most cases are probably not attributable to the dreaded and more serious “slipped disc pinching a nerve”, it can certainly result in that if your back continues to be subject to this cumulative strain.

    Observation of sitting posture is a give-away. If people sit (or stand) a bit like a question-mark ie. flattened lumbar spine, curved upper back, rounded shoulders, head and chin poking forwards, chances are, their postural muscles are not working effectively either on the bike or in everyday life. Add to this the fact that many of us have jobs which involve us sitting most the day… badly. And if you are also good friends with your sofa in the evening, this poor posture is being reinforced for too many hours of the day.

    Poor Posture

    Once on the examination couch, we often find that people have stiff lower lumbar spines, poor hip range of motion, and tight posterior chain muscles (particularly gluts and hamstrings), or possibly all three! A stiff lumbar spine will mean that you reach your limit sooner into range. Poor hip range can pull your pelvis into posterior tilt and therefore your lumbar spine into more flexion to achieve the flexion needed to get to the top of your pedal stroke. Tight gluts and hamstrings can also limit your hip flexion, and along with your back extensors, can be a source of pain themselves should they develop trigger points and excessive tightness.

    And finally, the word we all love or loathe – core stability. Your spine should be in a relatively neutral position when you cycle and you need properly functioning lumbopelvic stability muscles to keep it there. Also, these muscles are required to stabilise your pelvis, providing a platform for which your legs can exert (quite significant) forces on the pedals. To achieve all this, you also need good proprioception, or movement/position awareness.

    The solution… increase your lumbar and/or hip mobility and range, stretch your gluts and hamstrings (in fact, all your major lower limb muscle groups would be beneficial), learn how to engage your core muscles, and learn how to do this on a bike! Your cycle-friendly Physiotherapist should be able to help you with all of this. And one final word… consider getting a comprehensive bike fit. If your bike is constraining your body into a poor position, you’ll be fighting a losing battle.

    Friday, 17 February 2012

    The Perfect Bottle Cage

    A bottle cage is just a bottle cage. It's holds your bottle, that's what it's there for. True, but a bad cage won't hold your bottle particularly well - ejecting it at the first sign of any sudden undulation, bump or hop. Eject your bottle and that's you thirsty for the rest of your ride. Especially if you lose both.

    Don't forget a bad bottle cage can also make a good bike look awful! When you've spent a good portion of your hard-earned on the bike of your dreams the last thing you want is to ruin it with bad looking bottle cages.

    How to avoid both of these situations though? The answer is simple: Arundel.

    No, not the small town in Sussex with the castle and cathedral - this Arundel is a small, boutique American company pumping out some of the highest quality bike accessories on the market. In their range are a number of bottle cages which include the budget 'Sport' model and the high end 'Mandible', both of which are in stock now at our Sheen shop.

    Mandible Bottle Cage

    The Sport cage is made of plastic and comes moulded in black or white, whilst the Mandible is carbon and is available in a painted white or a matt carbon finish. We also have their 'Stainless' model which is based on the design of the Mandible but is made of stainless steel tubing for a more classic look.

    So what? Well, the Mandible will grip your bottle so well it is the bottle cage of choice for the Garmin pro team, even for events like Paris-Roubaix - if any event is going to shake your bottle loose then that is it.

    Thor Hushovd's Cervelo S5

    The Arundel range also includes a good range of very neat saddle bags - one of which is even designed to carry a folded tubular tyre. Ideal if you're that way inclined. There's also bar tape options, triathlon water bottle mounts and aerodynamic frame-mounted time trail water bottles available at the Sheen store.

    Words by Rich - Brain Farts of a Bike Tart