we're proud to sponsor nuun sigma sport, a london-based cycling team that races both on and off the track. we sat down with cameron fraser, team manager and road/track cyclist, to learn more about the world of track cycling and how the team juggles work, life, and training. plus we've got his pick for winner of the tour this year!
What's your favorite cycling discipline? How do you mix it up?
My favorite discipline is track riding and racing. I like the simplicity of a track bike but there is also some very cool track equipment on the market these days that it is easy to make a track bike look beautiful. Track racing in particular is a marriage of fitness, technique and race craft that needs to be perfected and delivered in the blink of an eye due to the pace that track races are run off at. There are also so many different race disciplines on the track such as pursuit, elimination, points, scratch and motor paced that there is something for every type of rider and therefore at track races there is always something to look forward to.
There is something about competing on an indoor velodrome in front of a big crowd that you just can’t replicate on the road. It's exhilarating.
What is the best way to cross train for cycling?
There is no getting round the fact that to be a better cyclist, whether you commute to work or race at a high level, is by riding your bike. However, there is so much to be gained for supplementing training on the bike by doing some strength and conditioning work.
More so in the winter months, I take to the gym to do a mixture of weights to maintain and build leg strength and core strength work. Core strength is really important to increase your efficiency as a rider and to minimise injury from cycling. However, I still do some regular core strength work and stretching throughout the season.
What is your pre-race routine?
Before all races, long and short, I will do a structured warm up. For track races, this will be done on the rollers in order to get the legs spinning at a higher cadence. For road races, my warm up will be done on a trainer. In any case, the warm up is progressive starting at an easy pace then slowly increasing through the power zones to get the muscles firing and lactate responses activated. My warm up will finish with some short sprint efforts before a cool down. A lot of riders these days prefer to put the headphones on but I prefer to warm up next to my team mates to have a chat and bit of a joke around before the start as I feel this is more relaxing. Sometimes, this is one of the few occasions we actually get to have a proper catch up as we are all busy and working during the week and during the race, it's down to business.
What do you eat and drink during a race? And your favorite mid-ride food?
For longer road races (100km +) I would normally set out with two bottles on the bike with Nuun Energy or Hydration tabs with two additional bottles with our road side soignuers (helpers). I normally aim for one bottle per hour but this can increase in hot/dry conditions. Sometimes, the last bottle could be a cheeky watered down coke for an extra sugar hit in the closing kilometres.
Eating properly is very important. Whilst gels such as Clif Gel Shots or Clif Shot Blocks will be enough for up to 100km I find good, solid food is much better for the stomach to process over those longer races or rides. I would look to eat a Clif bar every hour to an hour and half and take on a Gel Shot every hour. I have found that over many years of racing, sport nutrition can also be supplemented with good old fashioned cheese and jelly sandwiches, dried fruit and nuts and jelly babies. The important thing to remember is to eat and drink for the next hour of racing or riding, not for the hour you have just ridden because this can sometimes mean it's too late.
What race/ride is on your bucket list that you haven’t done, but would love to?
Having raced and ridden by bicycle all over the UK it would be great to combine all of those by doing Lands End to John O’Groats which is the entire length of the United Kingdom. It can be done over six or seven days and covers approximately 1,200 miles. It would be a great way to see all that the UK has to offer and of course it finishes in ‘Bonnie Scotland’ where I grew up.
For someone from out of town, what would be the “locals choice” recommended ride?
Without a doubt, anyone visiting London should ride out via the picturesque Richmond Park to Box Hill which was host to the 2012 London Olympic Road Race and is now used in the legacy Ride London cycling events each year. Whilst there is a popular route most locals do, with a bit of investigating on social sites such as Strava, you can head off the bigger roads onto some very nice countryside lanes without adding on too much distance. Box Hill boasts a couple of nice cafes which is a great place to refuel at just over half way.
Since many members of the team have full-time jobs outside of cycling, what are some key tips for squeezing in training around other work/life commitments?
In fact, we all have full time jobs and many have young families. The team was set up to demonstrate that it is possible to compete at a high level whilst still having a full time job so maximising the time training and preparing for the racing season is crucial.
We are luckily enough to be supported by a top UK cycle coaching company (TrainSharp) and Stage Cycling who provide the riders with power meters. With customised training plans and the right measuring tools it means that any training session, however short, is maximised. Using an indoor trainer also means there is no excuse for missing that one hour training session because it's cold out!
We are also very lucky to be supported by Nuun and Clif which means we have the right hydration and nutrition pre, during and post workout which enhances performance and recovery.
The final tip is very important, we all try to ride and train together regularly which means we can share tips and chat about training. Our advice is that if you want to maximise your cycling, then regularly with a group of riders who have the same or more experience than you means that you will not only gain in fitness but in knowledge. We love group riding.
Prediction for the tour 2017 winner?
It's going to be difficult for anyone to topple Chris Froome and the power of Team Sky. Although the 2017 edition doesn’t necessarily favour him with shorter time trials and only three mountain top finishes, Froomie and his squad will be at their best.
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