Fuel your Winter: Training DietThe official riding season is down and out for a few months now and what might be stressful for some; Winter training is a blessing in disguise for others. You'll have hopefully read our Winter Training blog and are well versed in how to train safely and how to dress accordingly. The next - and arguable most important topic is food; how to eat, what to eat and when to eat. When the harsh winter hits and the world around you starts to crumble with school closures, sick kids and blocked roads, your diet is likely to take some bashing too (and that's not including all the 'festive spirit' consumptions)! Training whilst undertaking a poor diet isn't smart - it's just asking for trouble. You've got to make sure you're getting the vital food groups and vitamins to avoid tiredness and lack of release in endorphins - remember; when you exercise your body releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy! We've established that time is of the essence around this time of year, so as applied to most things in the cycling world - plan ahead. Don't depend solely on protein as your main fuel source - carbs and fats are your friend, only when these are hard to come by do you depend on a shake. Fat will slow the digestive process and aid recovery; keeping you fuller for longer. Here's a few bits to add to your next shopping list: Egg noodles, oats, eggs, lean cuts of meat/fish, Full-fat Probiotic yoghurt (mmm), bananas (your best friend), coconut/almond/cows milk, seeds and nuts mix (not too many, mind!), lentils/beans/pulses provide good quality proteins, fresh, brightly coloured seasonal vegetables (Butternut squash soup or curry to warm up with after a winter ride) and brown rice/pasta. Now, the when to eat bit. You should probably avoid the usual McDonalds or local pub stop.... But who am I to ruin a good ride! Honestly though, it's not a conductive way to achieve great health... The general rule is carb load before your ride - big lunch if you're at work, or hearty dinner at home - wait an hour or so before hitting the road and hey -presto you're good to go! Remember your recovery fuel and gels - they'll balance out your electrolytes - we've got plenty of back pocket munchies you can make and take with you on our Pinterest page. Seriously - they're to die for! I'd go riding more, just for an excuse to keep eating. Tips: Eat and drink up until you are home from a ride. The body can only utilise a small amount of protein every two hours therefore, keep protein intake small and evenly spaced throughout all daily meals/snacks. It’s cheaper, less time consuming and healthier to arrive home from a ride and have a glass of milk (ideally semi-skimmed or full-fat) and a banana/flapjack to aid recovery until your next mealtime than buying a protein shake. Staying well hydrated with water, only use sports products alongside water during training and minimal caffeine intake when not competing. You might also be interested in some seasonal and not so healthy recipies!
Winter CyclingWith the mornings less refreshing to wake up to and the night's drawing earlier and darker, along with the erratic changes in weather, this is enough to signify that Winter is officially - non officially here. The constant battle between sunny showers and gale force winds make riding your bike outside feel like a gruelling chore. Fortunately though (if you're not in Scotland), not every single winter day brings bad weather and with the right forecast and plenty of preparation it's not all doom and gloom. We'll give you enough of reasons to pluck up the courage to take on the elements and avoid slipping away to the turbo set up; while static training is viable enough, it doesn't ever feel as satisfying as challenging outdoor ride... First things first - safety! It doesn't matter whether you're a seasoned pro and have a dedicated winter bike, or if it's the same trusty bike you use all year round, you have have have to get it serviced! Subtle changes such as re-greasing and new or tightened cables will make the world of a difference when it comes to comfortable riding. It might seem a bit counter intuitive as your bike will be subject to copious rides through rain, mud, grit and snow, but having a bike that’s in the best working order creates a massive impact to your riding capability during the unpredictable season. Plus, if you've ever had a mechanical out in the sticks during the winter months, you'll know how soul destroying it is trying to fiddle around and fix things when your fingers are frozen still and about to fall victim to frostbite. Don't be chilly, wrap your... Let's take a look at winter kit - we're going to presume you have the right kit to wear because you'll have ready our Autumn/ Winter Gear blog, righhhhht...? It's also good to note, that with a trusty base layer, as with the layering of clothes that you can't avoid, you're bound to work up a sweat no matter how cold the air is. A good quality base layer will help regulate your body temperature and wick away moisture from the skin to ensure a comfortable ride and avoid any chance of catching a chill. Now you’re ready to ride, but how far and how fast? The two biggest questions debated by cyclists at this time of year. But there's no real right answer to us, this decision is going to be made based on your goals, current fitness and motivation (or lack of). It will generally go one of two ways: For improving your endurance, winter is arguably the best time. Riding long and hard will help build a strong fitness base for when Summer eventually comes back around; you'll be ready to put plenty or road miles behind you. Orr, there's the later of the two - regular short rides, this will improve your overall speed and you'll avoid most wind chill and rain! Whatever the weather, whatever the ride, don't forget to enjoy it with a post ride tipple of your favourite dram. After all, the festive season is just around the corner after all... You might also be interested in LEJOG Challenge...
Distillery by Bike: the Islay Whisky TrailNow, they say the customer is always right - and some times that's hard to hear, believe you me. However, in this case the above fact is not faulted, nor questioned whatsoever, not one bit! Fellow whisky connoisseurs and buddying TCJ fans Rick and Stu took to the illustrious Isle of Islay to experience the islands eight working whisky distilleries. Stage 1: Bunnahabhain Distillery; the most northerly of the distilleries and considered by many to be the most untypical of Islay... Swooping through the single track road, the momentous smell of malt was enough to awaken the Giant within!
- Production Tour: 09:30 (50 mins - £7)
- Warehouse 9 Experience: 10:30 (1 hour/ 5 drams - £25)
- Distillery Tour: 14:00 (45 mins - £6)
- Distillery Tour: 16:00 or Drop in for a wee complimentary dram (open until 17:30)
- Distillery Tour: 10:00 (1 hour/ 2 drams – £7)
- Tasting options not time specific
- Tour: 11:00, 13:00, 14:00 (1 hour - £5)
- Drop in for a free tasting – licensed after 11:00 (bottles under £200)
- Classic Tour: 12:30/14:00
- Tasting Bar: 12:00 – 15:30
- Full Range Tour & Tasting: 10:00 (1 hour 45 mins/ 5 drams - £20)
- Old Kiln Café (lunch)
- Laphroaig Experience Tour: 14:00 (1 hour/ 3 drams - £10)
- Layers of Laphroaig Tasting: 15:15 (1 hour - £20)
- Core Range Tasting Tour: 15:30 (1 hour/ 3 drams - £15)
- Sensory Tasting Experience: 14:30 (5 drams - £35)
Cycling Routes in IrelandIreland. Home to 2017’s Enduro World Series, round 4 took to Carrick Mountain; now known as one of the most gnarly and wildest circuits. As its almost St Patricks Day and all, it leads us to thinking what else is there to do around the Irish nether regions… A brief bit of research finds these select few road bike and off-road MTB single track trails: Inishmore Island Loop; this is a full days pedalling around the Inishmore Islands and is extremely popular, interesting and picture perfect scenic. Inishmore is the largest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of co. Galway, Ireland. This route is a moderate (55 km) cycling route around the entire island. Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Coastline; this signposted route stretches 2,750 km (1,700 miles) along the remote winding west coast of Ireland from Kinsale in Co. Cork in the south to Co. Donegal in the north - where it connects to the Causeway Coastal Drive and onto Belfast. The benefit of this route is that it can be enjoyed over a busy few days, or drawn out over a couple of weeks, even! With thousands of outdoor pursuits such as walking, hiking, fishing and kayaking. There's 50+ beaches to explore on your way, among various long distance walks and with local festivals and events happening throughout the year, you're bound to find something you fancy. Blessington Lakes, Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough; this is whole day of cycling (approx. 75km). It's possibly better being split into smaller chunks as there are a few nasty climbs mid way. The views are breath-taking, so why rush? You'll pass through the spectacular Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains National Park, great mountain hikes, Lough Tay where the Vikings TV series films and Sally Gap. Sally Gap; if you're Dublin based this is on your doorstep! a remote mountain pass at 503m above sea level, located in the Wicklow Mountains. It's an unpredictable road; exposed and innumerable twists and turns. You'll possibly venture down onto old Military road (approx. 20km), weaving through some of the most desolate landscape in the country. Ballinastone; again in the Wicklow Mountains, this is one of five Coillte mountain bike trail centres. It's a short loop of purposely built single track. With flowing trails that never really reach a peak and forgiving terrain - it's no wonder why it's one of the most popular trails in the country.You'll have a longish grind up some gravel road, where some technical climbing will come in handy. The trail will gradually wind downhill, across open hillside and thick forest.