Brand Ambassador

Pat Douetil, Photographer and Ride Leader, on Mallorca with Viva Velo

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Velo photographer Patrick Douetil accompanied the Viva Velo team to Mallorca for our spring training camps this year as a ride leader. Here he looks back on the experience and riding with Viva Velo.

‘Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’ – Confucius

‘Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’ – Confucius

“This was my first time ride leading with Viva Velo in Mallorca. I had the pleasure of visiting the Island the previous year but self sufficiently. The first strikingly obvious benefit of the Viva Velo tour was the healthy catalog of routes that traversed the quietest and prettiest roads to the popular climbs and destinations.

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Further to this was the connections that had been set up with all the best bike hire companies, hotels, restaurants and most importantly the best cafe stops. These connections led our groups to be met by warm handshakes, good service and amazing coffee everywhere we stopped for a mid ride refuel. ‘DS’ Dyll Davies and long term employee The Matt Wallis have clearly worked very hard to find the best of the island so all that’s needed from the guests and ride leaders is a passion for cycling. I’m very much looking forward to my next adventure with the guys and girls at Viva Velo.”

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To experience Mallorca with Viva Velo yourself, you can book onto one of our Mallorca cycling camps in October. You can find out more, or book, here.

All the photos featured in this blog post are courtesy of Pat himself. You can find out more about his work and see his other projects on his website.

Pro Cyclist Dan Patten Looks #BeyondBergen

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With the world championships in Bergen underway and the summer seemingly drawing to a close (have we actually had a full summer this year!?), indicators that this cycling season is nearing it’s end, it’s of course a time when attentions can start to turn towards next year. Hopefully you have had a nice year on the bike, whatever that entails for you and hopefully you are looking forward to what next year will bring on two wheels. So if you find yourself sitting there watching the world championships and feeling inspired, then what better time to start planning for 2018 and setting new goals!? Time to think #BeyondBergen!

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Maybe this is within racing, sportives or a particular cycling challenge. Maybe it’s riding in a particular place in the world or maybe it’s to simply to do more riding and get fitter. Whatever it is hopefully you’re feeling inspired and motivated to set new goals, plan and work towards them.

With all this in mind, maybe it is in your thoughts to head to sunnier parts to do some riding next year. Maybe this is the goal itself, to be riding in another place and with the challenges that it offers. Maybe going to sunnier parts is preparation for other goals and if so what better way to put the kms in on the bike to prepare for your goals than going away to do so!? With the sun on your back, cycling friendly roads, challenging terrain and amazing scenery, why not look to the ever popular Mallorca and all that it has to offer with Viva Velo and their Mallorca Spring Camps.

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This is of course that time of year when I also start to look towards 2018 and where i’ll be. This season will round up by the middle of October and then it will be time to put the bike away and take some time off to recover both physically and mentally from the year that’s been. It’s so important to do this and something you should keep in mind for your own cycling. It’s also a good time to set those goals and start making those plans. After a break you will be raring to go start working towards your goals, fresh and re-energized.

So what are my goals in cycling in 2018!? Those goals have not changed for me over the last decade, working for opportunities that allow me to compete in the best races possible and show my full potential. Having worked my way up the sport, the biggest motivating factor for me is the higher level and the bigger races. Right now my plans for 2018 are unclear but I hope for an opportunity that will allow me to continue progressing in the sport. Recent years have also seen me doing more work on top of racing. From rides, tours, holidays, to coaching, talks and shoots. A side of the sport I like very much also, meeting new people, sharing knowledge and stories, helping and advising. It is a very satisfying experience and something I look forward to more of in 2018.

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As always I would be more than happy to answer any questions and/or offer any advice, so feel free to get in touch. As I start to think more about 2018, hopefully you are too, think #BeyondBergen!

Climbing

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Whether training, racing, commuting, riding a sportive or going on a cycling holiday, much of what we do in cycling involves a hill or two. From the shorter, sharper (and sometimes cobbled) hills that you will find in Belgium to the long mountain passes and everything in between, in one form or another climbing is a big part of cycling. I am fortunate enough to have ridden some of the most famous climbs in the world from the Koppenberg in Belgium, the Tourmalet in France and the Stelvio in Italy to Mount Lemmon in the USA – to name but a few – and with the opportunities available to you now with Viva Velo, it’s something that you can also do.

Whether you relish the hills or detest them there are always ways to improve this area of your cycling, which is the aim of this months blog piece. Gearing is unquestionably important, right from having appropriate gearing on your bike to start with, to the gear you start the climb on and the gearing you use on the climb. Finding the optimum cadence for you is important, as is an optimum intensity. Though going “full gas” to get over the shorter sharper climbs may be appropriate, going into “the red” too early on the longer mountain passes may indeed make the rest of the climb slightly less pleasurable. Therefore also knowing a little about the climb in terms of length and gradient and gaging your effort and gearing accordingly is important. There is always debate whether in the saddle or out the saddle is best, but in my opinion it’s a personal thing. Look at some of the worlds best climbers and you’ll see a mixture of styles, yet all effectively propelling the rider up the climb, find what works best for you!

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Something that also becomes a factor to some when climbing is the heat, especially on the longer climbs. This of course can be intensified depending on time of year and exactly where in the world you are climbing. The effort of climbing coupled by the naturally slower speeds and therefore less of a cooling effect from the air can see people heating up on the climbs pretty quickly. Staying hydrated is important, of course, as is using water as a cooling effect on the body. Unzipping your jersey provides a useful way to reduce your core temperature and help you feel a little cooler, as can removing sunglasses on the way up.

The good thing with climbing as all aspects of our cycling, is it is highly trainable. Like anything, practice makes perfect (or almost) and though it sounds obvious if you want to improve your climbing ability, then spending time on the hills will help.  I know from my experience if I do this my climbing ability improves greatly. Of course if we go and spend 2 weeks in the mountains you will see a marked difference, but just riding any hill(s) more and more whether out training or competing or commuting will always help i.e. don’t avoid them! Like anything the more we do it the better we get and this certainly applies to climbing where factors like muscle memory come into play. The fitter and stronger we are will always help, so spend time climbing and it will naturally become more pleasurable through a training cycle or as we accumulate more and more hours on the bike. Likewise a core stability program will ensure a stable base, generating power and using this power in the most efficient way on the climb.

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As someone that comes from Essex improvising when it comes to the home trainer can also see you improve your climbing. Rise the front end of your bike up, for example by putting some books/bricks/wooden blocks under the front wheel to simulate climbing. Position and the way power is put out can change when climbing so spend more time in this position putting out the power in this way and again muscle memory will see your climbing improve. As it goes for any aspect of cycling, looking at your bike position and fitting it appropriately can help greatly. Yet again it’s often a personal thing but even little tweaks to your position can certainly make a difference when it comes to your climbing performance.

Finally when it comes to climbing a lot of people will naturally become focused on the weight of the bike and its parts. Basic laws of physics dictate that this obviously effects how fast you go up hill, so there are always equipment choices to be made. However at the same time the fitter we become then weight savings can also be made through us as individuals, rather than having to own the very lightest bike out there. As with everything it’s finding a little bit of balance, but ultimately the fitter you are and the more time you spend on the hills trying to improve your climbing, then the more your climbing performance will improve.

Viva Velo run hill-climbing sessions with their charity partners Beating Bowel Cancer in the build up to the Ride London event.  They also run regular monthly Club Viva Velo rides.  Why not join them and learn from experienced ride leaders how to improve your climbing – as well as group riding skills?  Check the Club page on the Viva Velo website for details.

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Any questions whatsoever, please feel free to get in contact. Until next time, happy climbing! – Dan