Introducing the FR2 – RedChilli’s all round racing bike

Last year I had the privilege of racing on the RedChilli FR1 which is the perfect bike for flat snappy courses and this year I’ve branched out to the FR2. This bike is the perfect all round racing machine as well as being pretty hand on the hills. It’s light, responsive and has a very unique frame design – I love this bike :)

Redchilli 5

I got to do a little photoshoot with Jarlath Flynn to show off the new bike – Jarlath was so easy to work with, so down to earth and has the ability to make one laugh a lot. Who would of thought that wearing lycra while not racing could be so much fun? Although I don’t think i’ll be sporting this look in the office on Monday…

If anyone out there is looking for a wedding photography get in touch with this man.

https://www.facebook.com/Jarlath-Flynn-Photography-152661494768325/?fref=mentions&pnref=story

Photoshoot 1 Photoshoot 2 Photshoot 3

 

 

 

Tour of the Res, Newcastle (tour of pain) & BeNe ladies tour, Holland/Belgium (tour of survival)…

I’ve had a few weeks down time after a crazy block of racing all through May, June and July and now it’s time to refill the tank and get reeved up for the second half of the season – Coach Todd wants to hit the nail on the head in September and so why not.

After the National Champs, Isle of Man, I slumped back to work feeling pretty disappointed. The Nationals hadn’t gone great (mechanicals – worst timing ever) , but as they say, you are only as good as your last race, so I was eager to rectify things at the tour of the Res in Newcastle the following weekend.

This tour is a hard mans/womens tour. Climb, climb, climb – and then some more. This year they ramped it up considerably sending the women’s race over the same course as the mens for the second day which involved a 15 minute climb into what I can only describe as moorlands – open, exposed and enough wind to send you flying.

Its not ideal entering these races as an individual, as the level has become so high now, that many strong professional women’s teams show up, but I was lucky to have Keith McRae supporting me, which included driving me down, booking accommodation, cleaning my bike and also yelling at me in the race to ride like ‘I stole it’ when I managed to make the break and then blow in the last lap – looking back it feels like a miracle that I didn’t get swallowed up by the 25 women stampede coming behind me. Overall the tour went really well. I was happy to finish 8th on GC – we had 80 or so riders on the start line – this is a hard tour!

Stage one was quite intense! I made the break going up the main climb on lap 3 of 5. It was an impressively strong group from GB reps through to former/current National Champions, with Hayley Simmonds driving the pace. The group burst from 8 to none…Simmonds and Lowther off the front, a chasing group of 5 and me the lone rider, with 20km’s still to go. Thanks to Keith yelling at me to ‘get a move on’ I crossed the finish line on my own in 8th place. I must of burnt some bridges however because my already massive appetite became overwhelming, eating every hour from 1pm till midnight – I can not afford this appetite…

Adding to the excitement from the tour, our group got a little bit of TV coverage as well – it’s great to see women in sport being profiled more, we need more of this.

TofRes

Climb, climb, we climb..Thanks for the photo Huw Williams

Tour of the res - whoop

Happy after the tour..

Next stop was the BeNe ladies tour in Belgium/Holland

This was unbelievably hard this year. It’s usually categorised as a 2.2, but this year they recatogorised it to 2.1 meaning that the level of competition went through the roof. Marianne Vos was looking incredibly strong – she was like a feather on the cobbles, floating off them, while the rest of us grovelled. It’s no surprise she won, however not without some impressive challenges from Team GB, including Alice Barnes taking the win in stage 1 and Elinor Barker winning stage 2. I suffered through the whole tour – at times it felt like a threshold interval for 2 or so hours, but was happy to see some big gains from last year and ride into the top 50 in stage 2 amongst a relatively dangerous and scary finish with 100 or so women jostling for position.

This may not sound great, but when you consider this is a completely pan flat tour with around 2 metres of climbing per stage and almost on pa with World Championship level – I am not going to complain. It’s amazing to think I finished 8 mins behind Vos over 4 days and that put me at 76th on GC, verses finishing 8.5 mins down overall at Tour of the Res finishing 8th overall on GC.

Random fact of the week – they sent us throw a tunnel in stage 1 for 6.5km’s – it was terrifying and I hope this is never repeated. While it was a novelty and some what thrilling, I could barely see a thing and firmly back Marianne Vos words, ‘that a tunnel is no place for a women’s professional bike race’, especially when you enter the tunnel on a decent, followed by a climb out the other side.

Redchilli BeNE

RedChilli loving Belgium/Holland – Thanks to Jean Knop and Peter Geelan for the photos

Isorex smilesIsorex smiles 2

Looking way to excited for the last stage.

Huge thanks to Team Isorex for their support for the week, RedChilli and to Meadowlark Yoga helping me keep my race brain game on..

Happy cycling to everyone out there – be that warm or cold weather – get on your bike :)

The tornado of May flys into June – 14 races in 9 weeks..

I am starting to feel a little blown mentally. I haven’t raced this intensively for around 6 years and I am starting to fantasise about sleep a lot.

I only have 2 races to go and then I get a week off, so I know I can do this! But I am tired…racing like a professional but going back to the office in between takes it’s toll – thank goodness for Yoga, meditation, reiki and mindfulness to keep me under control (thanks Anne for the recent mindfulness session).

So I’ve been in Belgium, Canada, back to Belgium, Scotland, Isle of Man and it’s down to Newcastle this weekend. How I am doing this around my job? Well I have an incredibly supported boss and I have annual leave, so this is how my ‘holiday’s look – bike racing..

This year has been all about raising my game – trying to hit top 20’s in UCI 1.1 races and taking things to another level. We are getting there thanks to the help of my faithful coach Todd Scheske, the hot new Redchilli FR2 bike and a lot Meadowlark yoga,  but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. The results have gone – 44th, 34th, 29th, 35th….I feel like we are knocking on the door, but I need to bring this baby home! And then over the course of last week I raced the British National Road Championships and had nothing short of disappointing results. In the tt, I wasn’t able to use a tt bike due to various complications, so i rode it on a road bike (not such a great idea). In the road race i burnt several bridges getting over the 12km ‘Mountain’ in the top 20 only to puncture right on the summit. It’s just bike racing, but the timing was bad.

Anyway onwards and upwards. I’ve meet some amazing people, been inspired by several new faces and at the end of the day it’s all about GRATITUDE – the universe always manifests more for us when we are in this zone, so go out there and get appreciative people, it’s the way forward.

Here are some pics to keep you entertained :)Canada RedChilli 2017  Race face on?Canada team silly Canada teamRedchilli belgium 2017 Redchili in BelgiumRedchilli curlew Curlew Cup!Team Breakfast Canada 2017 Team breakieWheelers 2017

THANKS 4 the gd times Quebec :)

 

 

 

Let the racing begin + some yoga…

I’ve taken a slightly different approach to racing for 2017, choosing to start the main racing block a bit later, ie: May. My coach and I have done this to simply give me a bigger winter training block and get me better prepared for the big ones. So it’s all go for May:

Week 1 – Scottish Nat 10 mile tt champs and then drive like furry to Round 1 Scottish National Road Series, Round 1, Sharon Argue Memorial Race

Week 2- Fly to Belgium for UCI 1.1 Westhoek

Week 3 – Fly to Canada for UCI 1.1 Gatineau road race/tt

Week 4 – Fly back to Belgium, drop bike with team, fly back to Edinburgh, go to work and then fly back to Belgium for race 4, UCI Gooik 1.1

It’s a crazy month! But sometimes you just have to go BIG – I’ve never believed in doing things by halves..

And to keep the stress levels at bay I am doing a lot of yoga with my favourite studio, Meadowlark in the Meadows. I got to write on their blog recently, here is why cyclists should get involved with YOGA :)

http://www.meadowlarkyoga.com/2017/05/yoga-sport-really-go-hand-hand/

Stay warm on the bike people  – it’s pretty nippy in Scotland right now..

Back in Edinburgh and back on the rickshaw…

I arrived back in Edinburgh 1.5 weeks ago and it was straight back into the swing of things – so good to be back and to catch up with everyone.

This was me at the start of my rickshaw shift last night…I can assure you that smile didn’t last. At 4am I was well and truly OVER IT..

Rickshaw shift 2017

People often ask me what sort of training I am getting out of rickshawing and I like to think of it as one massive strength session, kind of like going to the gym, but trying to squat 300kgs…by the time you put 3 people in the rickshaw on top of the weight of the rickshaw which is around 100kgs, you have some serious weight to haul the cobbles and it’s hard! But also really really good for building power and stamina. I love doing it, but I am absolutely floored on a Sunday and often dazed at the office job on Monday. It has also funded all my racing endeavours, so I really do have a lot to thank the rickshaw community for.

And it does feel a bit chilly back in Scotland – only my face has felt the sea breeze directly while riding and any sign of a tan is surely soon to be gone…

Nth Berwick 2016 North berwick 2017. Gen

Happy cycling people – stay warm!

x

Training rolls on – happy 2017 cycling buddies..

Meadowlark 2016 NZ

As much as i’d love to say that everyday in NZ this summer has been like this pic – i can’t. The truth is, NZ is having a rubbish summer and weather like this, has been rare. This is a pic of me enjoying a coastal spin around Wellington, and yes it looks amazing, but i can assure you most of the time i am riding/training directly into a head wind.

So i’ve been in NZ for close to 3 months and i know some of my Uk friends are wondering what’s going on, and why i am not in Scotland.  My family has experienced an unexpected illness, and i’ve been doing all i can to support them, which has been a very rollercoaster ride for over 6 months now – but it has given me time with my parents, time that i have not had over the last 10 years and although i’d rather not be in NZ under such circumstances, there really is nothing quite like family.

So, my advice to all cycling buddies for 2017 is to connect with the one’s you love – be that near or far and to really live in the moment and make the most of what you have. It’s a funny old planet we live on and you just have to roll with the punches sometimes.

Training is going well – never have i been so rested and been able to average 15 hours a week. Gone are the days of working 40 hours and then rickshawing weekends and attempting to race around it – i feel like i am finally preparing properly for a season.

So the race calendar is getting finalised and I am getting ready for a European/North american racing season – here’s to a unique 2017.

Happy cycling.

Gen

Training & getting family time in New Zealand

Apiti route NZ 2. 2016

I’ve been in NZ since late October due to unforeseen family circumstances and have been getting in some good solid ‘winter’ miles – well summer miles in NZ.  Its been amazing having so much needed time with my family, but I sure am missing the UK and bonny wee Scotland. This is the first off season in which I have had the opportunity to put in such quality training, including proper gym sessions and finally learning how to squat and deadlift properly.

This pic was taken on a local loop around my father’s place about 20km’s south of a small rural town called Apiti. It included around 1400 metres of climbing over 130km’s, but thanks to the young talents in the Manawatu bike club we got around in a steady time of 4.5 hours.

So it will be a summer xmas this year, but wishing all my cycling buddies and friends in the UK and around the globe a merry xmas – cu all back there in 2017 :)

Edinburgh summer. T Campbell 2015

Looking forward to some local laps of ‘Arthur’ on my return…

A night with Steve Wright & Arthur Smith from BBC Radio 2

About a month ago I had the privilege of giving Steve Wright from BBC Radio 2 and comedian Arthur Smith a rickshaw ride through the streets of Edinburgh. They were uber fun to hang out with, my only disappointment was not having the leg strength to get them up Victoria street..I blame the tough racing schedule for this! You can hear it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p045pxny

Arthur and Steve

Gen’s quick fire training tips -Get your position dialed for a better finish & learn how to climb..

About a month ago I asked cycling friends on twitter what they would like advice on and the big ones that came back were bunch positioning & climbing. So I thought, why the heck don’t I just write about both in one go. A short condensed version with all the juice , well that’s the plan.

I am forever learning as a cyclist. Even as I have got faster over the last few years, one has to be constantly diligent with bike handling, skills and observance in bike races to ensure you get the right result. I think the most fundamental rule I have learned in my 15 years of racing is to PAY ATTENTION at all times. Road racing is not for day dreamers. You have to race like you have eyes in the back of your head.

So first off positioning..

Aspitt Dijon 2012 Coupe de France

Why is it that the same folk seem to be finishing at the front of the race? Are they actually that much stronger? I have heard many a cyclist whinge and cry at the end of a bunch sprint about how they were shelved by someone before the finish line and how it’s just so unfair that they didn’t make the top 10…blah, blah…

I believe the truth is this. No matter how bad your sprint is, if you are in the front two rows of the peleton going into a sprint finish, you will no doubt do better than your buddy sitting 7-8 rows back. Simply put, you have less ground to make up. Even If Mr or Ms Sprint your butt off is 7-8 rows back from you, and you don’t have as good as sprint as them, you’ll still likely beat them simply because of your position.

I had a team manager who was convinced I had a terrible sprint, simply based on my many 50-100 placing results in top women’s races. Then, one day I got my position dialled, got into the front going into a sprint and won the race – no one could believe it, ‘gen can’t sprint’, and the honest truth is, I didn’t have to sprint that hard to win, I was at the front, and it was a lot easier than trying to get through the bunch.

So my point is this. If you want a shot at winning a race, you need to follow the golden rule – sit in the top 3 rows in the bunch, but never constantly on the front, second row back, sheilded from the wind and doing 30% less than the person in front. BUT you don’t want to get a reputation as a ‘wheel sucker’ so if you are pushed to the front, do a small turn (you can soft pedal) so you don’t hit max heart rate after 30 seconds and then pull off. You also don’t want the reputation as the ‘work horse’ – the rider that is constantly pulling the whole peleton along and then too trashed to contend the finish line. So if you do find yourself on the front a lot, just start riding really really slowly, it will annoy someone enough to attack or take a turn.

The trick to staying in the top 2-3 rows in a race is to constantly keep pedalling and looking for gaps to ensure no one behind you fills them. It’s okay to ride on the outside row of the bunch, but you need to try and remember that you could be exposed to the wind and therefore working a lot harder to be there, so if you can, tuck yourself in behind someone else. If you know someone in your races that is ‘ace’ at positioning, try and sit on their wheel, let them pull you up.

If you are not a strong climber and the hill is approaching, you need to get to the very front of the bunch, so that even if you do start slowing down up the hill, you are still in the bunch, even if dropping back a little – better to do that, than be at the back killing yourself to hang on.

Coming into the finish – this is the tricky part and I am still mastering, but with around 5km’s to go, you need to start making your way up the bunch. With 3km’s to go, you need to be no further back than the 2nd or 3rd row, if you want any chance at a good finish. If the bunch gets strung out at the 1km mark, you need to be around wheel number 5 at the worst if you want to try and contend the sprint. From races in the USA, UK, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA & NZ this rule has worked time and time again to get me a few wins, some podiums and many top 20 finishes in big bunches of up to 100 women.

Now for climbing..

Gen racing in France 2012

Not everyone is a natural mountain goat, but what doesn’t come naturally can most definitely be learnt and taught. There are three main factors that are needed for climbing:

Weight – the less you are, the less you have to ‘carry’ up the hill
Strength – to go up hill fast, you need strength in your muscles. Some people have more natural strength than others, but even if you don’t naturally have it, you can train it.
Speed – when the hammer goes down, you want to be able to go with it.

I am good example. People/coaches assumed I’d be a great natural climber when I started racing because I was pretty light at 55kgs. However unless coaches applied regular strength sessions, I was horrendous uphill in races. We worked out that while the potential was there with my weight, I am a person that doesn’t hold strength for long, so if you want me to climb well, you need to constantly have some strength sessions in there, like virtually every week in the winter and at least once a month in the summer.

So, if you are someone that is struggling with the dem hills, I would look at how much strength you get into training. Over the winter you can build strength in your quads by doing squats, deadlifts, kettlebell exercises as well as press ups, push ups and sit ups to make your stomach strong.

On the bike you can build strength by doing low cadence hill repeats once a week for a period of say 8 weeks. Pick a hill that is atleast 5 minutes long and ideally one you can ride in big ring, or at a low cadence in your hardest gears in small ring and do 4 x 5 min repeats with a cadence of around 50-6-rpm. It will feel like death and anyone who passes you will think you have lost the plot completely, but after a few weeks, including some recovery weeks in between, you will start to see your climbing improve. This is an old school training session that many of the tour de France riders do over the winter, so what is stopping you from giving it a go?

As for the speed part, I would recommend short hill repeats, say 4-6 x 3mins at maximum effort up hill to work on sustained high pace efforts, that replicate a race. Do not start off too hard, you are looking for a speed you can maintain for the whole effort, so if you know that is 15kmph, do not start at 17kmph hoping for a miracle! Last year I got overly excited with a power metre and tried to hold 350 watts (which is someone near the current women’s world recorld) up hill for 5 mins, I blew up after 3 mins and was in such a state I couldn’t complete anymore intervals that day..DON’T LET THAT BE YOU..

So that’s all for training tips right now. I would write more if I simply had more spare time, but I hope this is helpful and feel free to email me if you have any more questions.

Your pal in all cycling related matters and wishing everyone a nice Easter break with a few eggs in there too :)

IMG_20160328_100123

This bunny will not be safe for long..

Cheers,

Gen 

LIVE IN THE MOMENT FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, UK