17 January 2007

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The Cycling Season Beckons

Well, we are all back in the swing of things now, with Christmas but a distant memory. Back at work and back into the daily grind. With temperatures soaring to 8 or 9 degrees, summer is plainly just around the corner!

It really is hard to believe that the first road race of the 2007 season is only six weeks away and the first of the reliability trials will be on Sunday week!  This trial will take place in Ballymena, leaving the Rex Bonar Rooms at 9.30am.  On the same day Apollo are also organising a triall in Lurgan and in the first weekend in February there is the Dave Kane event.  Yet are we all prepared?
Preparation for the new season
One of the most popular clubroom activities last year was a talk by our own sports scientist, Darren McWilliams.  Darren pointed out several important points if we are to compete effectively or if we, as tourists, are to complete grueling long distance recreational cycles with a high degree of efficacy.  
For example, Darren suggests that good nutrition was crucial as research has shown that endurance performance will be maintained if athletes replace lost fluid and carbohydrate during exercise. The importance of replacing carbohydrate and / or fluid will depend on the conditions in which exercise is conducted.

It seems self-evident that fluid and carbohydrate intake will be dependent on the intensity of exercise, duration of exercise, ambient temperature and the relative humidity.  Darren highlights the fact that as the intensity of exercise increases, the athlete’s body will shift from oxidising (burning) a combination of carbohydrate and fat to oxidising a larger amount of carbohydrate. At high intensities the athlete’s body will only rely on carbohydrate as the source of fuel for energy production. At these high intensities of exercise, the body’s stores of carbohydrate may become depleted in as little as 45-60 minutes. Exercise at this intensity could include chasing down a break in a road race, conducting interval training or trying to stay with a large group of riders during a touring event.

Our bodies will only store a limited amount of carbohydrate.  Therefore, if this carbohydrate is not replaced during high intensity exercise then the body will suffer from the condition known in cycling circles as getting the ‘knock’ or the ‘bonk’. The technical term for this is hypoglycaemia, which simply means a reduction in plasma glucose concentrations.  Forgetting the technical terms, anyone who has experienced the ‘knock’ – when it seems that one simply hasn’t the energy to stand – will agree that it is an experience never to be repeated.

It is worth remembering, however, that it is not only during high intensity exercise that athletes can suffer from hypoglycaemia. During exercise at moderate intensities, similar to those ridden during winter training rides or touring events, athletes can become hypoglycaemic after 170 – 180 minutes.

The good news, however, is that the ‘knock’ won’t occur and endurance performance will be maintained if athletes replace lost fluids and carbohydrate during exercise. The amount of carbohydrate and / or fluid will clearly depend on the conditions in which exercise is conducted. It is, therefore, imperative that no-one embarks upon any cycle, be it a gentle run to Ballywalter, the Peninsula Challenge or the Tour of the North without an adequate and easily accessible supply of carbohydrates or liquid.  

Get well soon, Terry.
One person who will not be enjoying any of the early season activities is our own touring secretary, Terry Nicoletti.  Terry is presently on crutches and describes the night he sustained his Achilles injury as ‘the night of my worst nightmare’.  Apparently the tendon snapped (going off with a bang). The casualty doctor has said that the plaster will be on for 8 weeks.  We wish Terry a swift and successful recovery, but our real thoughts are with poor Frances, who has the chore of looking after him.

Tickets for Manchester
Fancy two finishing straight tickets, for the whole weekend’s racing at the World Cup event in Manchester (Friday 23rd to Sun 25th February) for 25 pounds each?  If anyone is interested please contact Tom Henry as soon as possible.  

Bokhara Night Out
Flo. Millar is organising another of the very successful meals in the Bokhara on Sunday the 28th January, starting at 7.30pm.  These are always very relaxed evenings when members and friends can enjoy excellent food in very convivial surroundings.  As always the craic will be excellent and at twelve pounds fifty for a two course meal the value is unquestionable.  If you’d like to be included contact Flo. immediately so that your places can be booked.

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