Author - Boudicca

Iceni water


Iceni water
As Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni tribe, what could be better than the Boudicca Sportive partnering with a company called Iceni?

Especially when that company supply natural mineral water, extracted and bottled just 50 miles down the road – avoiding the high ‘food miles’ associated with a lot of other bottled waters.

There will be a bottle of cool, clean, crisp and refreshing Iceni water for each rider ready for collection with your other goodies at the end of the ride.

Did you know … Some other mineral waters drawn from ancient sources will take many years to be replenished, whereas Iceni is a young water drawn from a continuously replenished aquifier in the heart of our country – so it doesn’t need to travel too far to reach you.

Simple science – and environmentally aware too!


Snackage update


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Finding suitable snacks for our feed stations is something which we think about a lot – products which aren’t loaded with sugar or additives and which will help fuel riders effectively – especially those who could be in the saddle for up to six or seven hours.

Bananas are always on the menu and a couple of years ago we started to offer Mini Cheddars as a savoury and salty alternative! Fig rolls have been a staple part of our offer for the past three years and have many fans – although Tim isn’t one of them!

But this year we have got a great new supporter on board – Soreen the malt loaf people will be supplying us with a generous helping of their lunchbox loaves so we will be able to offer them at every feed station.

They are soft, tasty and not too sweet and as they are individually wrapped they can be popped in your back pocket and saved for the journey … just make sure the wrapping goes back in your pocket if you snack on the move!

Did you know … It seems that John Montgomerie of Scotland applied for a patent titled Making Malted Bread in 1886. The patent was for a process which involved warming a portion of dough mixed with diastatic malt extract to an appropriate mash temperature and holding it for a time so the extract’s enzymes would pre-digest some of the starch.

Scrumtious science – that’s what we think!


Cycling Clothing Accessories

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Bike gloves offer cushion and protection for cycling. You can find long-finger, short-finger, colorful and functional gloves for cycling. They main goal of a bike glove is to provide padding in the palms to cushion your hands during long rides, to provide protection in case of a fall, to provide a tacky surface for a good grip on the handlebars and brakes, or keep you warm in the cold.[/av_one_third]


Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes come in a variety of styles, and offer specialized fit and function. Most bike shoes now accommodate cleats (special bindings that clip into special pedals) and all offer a stiff sole that help transfer power to the pedal. Be sure to buy shoes that work with your pedals and try on a variety of styles before deciding.  Yes you could ride 100 miles in trainers but it would take far more effort than in a stiffer soled cycling specific shoe.[/av_one_third]





Cycle Jerseys

header_DEC_020_website_images_logoThe cycling jersey is one of the basic features of any cyclists kit bag and is a must for many features you won’t find in a tee shirt. The main benefits of a cycle jersey include:

  • Flexible, tight-fitting material that doesn’t flap in the wind and moves with you.
  • Fabrics that breath and “wick” your sweat away from your skin to help keep you cool and dry.
  • Back pockets for easy access and storage of small items while riding.
  • A long front zipper and short collar to help you adjust your ventilation needs to the temperature.
  • A longer, wider cut across to back and shoulders, and a shorter front to accommodate the hunched over cycling position and still cover your lower back.

Cycling Shorts

header_DEC_020_website_images_logoWhy would I need them? I’m not that serious! Well that maybe but you would be surprised of the advantages that cycling specific shorts can give you over regular clothes and its not all about looks.  Most cyclists that have used a good quality cycling short will be slightly alarmed at the prospect of doing any reasonable distance without them.  Don’t worry about the “Mankini” look as the straps will be hidden under your jersey and, for comfort and not slipping down when your hunkered on the drops, they’re far superior to standard shorts. This is one area where spending money on a quality brand is recommended as a high quality chamois pad is essential for long ride comfort.


Cycling shorts are designed to fit and support your body when you’re in a cycling position. For this reason, they are made from eight to 12 vertical panels, providing extra curvature. Their flat seams don’t press into your skin when you ride, unlike regular shorts’ seams. Cycling shorts have grippers at the bottom of each leg to keep them from riding upward. Men’s cycling shorts typically have a shorter rise and a wider waistband. Women’s cycling shorts typically have a longer rise and a smaller waist. Don’t worry about wearing gender-specific shorts, however. Go for the shorts that fit best.


Because cycling shorts should fit your riding shape, they are made of stretchy fabrics. Stretchy fabrics have a compression effect that supports your muscles and stimulates blood flow. Another big advantage is that the fabrics have high-tech fibers that wick away moisture and allow your skin to breathe.


Cycling shorts come with a padded liner called a chamois, which protects your groin area from chafing and friction and helps to cushion your ride. This is vital because sitting on a bike saddle puts pressure on your perineum, the junction of major nerves and arteries in the area between your buttocks and genitals. A padded chamois also protects against bacteria build-up.

To Pant or not to pant..

Cycling shorts are designed to make your ride more comfortable and to protect you from irritation and chafing. Because the shorts have bacteria-fighting chamois and flat seams, you are supposed to wear the shorts without underwear. Underwear will add seams that can cause skin irritation and fabric that will keep you wet if it rains.


Goodness in = Greatness Out

The team at Boudicca HQ are a restless bunch, rarely satisfied with the status quo and always thinking of and looking for ways to improve what we offer our riders.

On top of that, we like to offer something that riders can’t get or don’t get anywhere else – we are great fans of the USP! – and we recognise that there is a huge thirst for knowledge and personal development among the folk that come and ride the Boudicca Sportive as well as the wider cycling community.

So, for 2014 we have teamed up with two great new partners to help us develop our event and more importantly, help our riders develop and understand the many aspects of cycling from nutrition to fitness and bike maintenance.

Let’s start with nutrition because this has been the most significant change.

In 2012 and 2013, we had Torq on board as our supplier of energy drink, bars and gels. They are a quality company, producing quality products and we are great fans of what they do, but we wanted to push forward, to increase the range of products we give to riders, to offer easily accessible and understandable nutrition advice and to offer the opportunity to purchase additional supplies after the event if riders like what they tasted!

And, we want to be unique … to offer something that no other sportive in the region, or even the country is able to offer. So, for 2014 we are really excited to be partnering with …

OTE SPORTSOTE are a relatively new company but with a very impressive history – that may sound like a contradiction but a quick peek at their website will reveal all! OTE have a range of products which fit our requirements, they offer nutritional advice in bite sized chunks, easily digestible to all and they have European pro teams beating down their doors trying to get access to their products – in my book that’s a pretty convincing set of reasons to team up with OTE!

We have spoken with Torq about our decision and we are still good friends, they recognise and respect our decision to try something different and to move on. And in case the more sceptical among you were wondering, it’s not about money. We have always bought our nutrition products and will continue to do so, because we want our riders to have the best. We don’t want free product, we want a quality product.

You can find more information about OTE, their products and some incredibly helpful advice on nutrition here.

It’s not just nutrition where we have moved on, there is some great news about bike maintenance to share with you too but we’ll save that for another day …




Top 5 Tips- For Optimal Recovery


1. Carbohydrates are the primary substrate needed to replenish muscle glycogen that is used during endurance exercise. Athletes should aim to consume 1.2g per kilogram of body weight post exercise to optimise recovery.

For a 70kg person this would be 84g of carbohydrates, which could be a bagel (50g of Carbs) with half a large tin of baked beans (30g of Carbs).

2. Protein is important to repair muscle damage and to help build muscle post training. An endurance athlete should aim to consume 20-25g of protein post exercise. Any more protein is not necessary, you are better to eat little and often.

Examples of foods containing 20g protein are 2 eggs, a tin of tuna, a chicken breast, 2 sausages or a large glass of milk.

3. Protein Shakes are a great way to combine both your carbohydrate and protein needs in a quick and convenient way. An OTE Recovery Shake will provide you with 25g of quality protein and 20g of carbohydrates, consume this with a large banana and you will have optimal nutritional recovery.

4. For Optimal Recovery the ingestion of either food or drink should be as close to the end of finishing exercising as possible, with 30 minutes post exercise being the ‘Window of Opportunity’.

5. Fluid Loss post endurance training or events can be large, especially if the athlete is performing in the heat. Try to consume 150% of sweat losses within the first hour of recovery by consuming fluids with electrolytes in. OTE hydro tabs are perfect for this.


Sportive Training Plans

Your 2013 Sportive preparation and training starts here. On Thursday 27 September 2012, British Cycling launched its first ever tailored Sportive Training Plans, designed for all levels of rider ability and aspiration.  You may be a complete beginner, a seasoned sportive campaigner, or somewhere in between; either way we have a plan to suit you.

Autumn and Winter is the ideal time to lay the foundation for the spring’s season opening sportives, and also represents excellent groundwork for next summer.

The British Cycling Sportive Training Plans are exclusively available to British Cycling members and require you are able to measure both heart-rate and cadence as you ride.  Measuring these variables will allow you to:

  • Monitor your fitness level
  • Measure your progression
  • Keep your training sessions structured and focussed
  • Train in targeted heart rate zones with specific physiological effects
  • Get the very most out of the training time you have available

All British Cycling Sportive Training Plans run for an initial 6-month period

Rider levels

You may want to complete your first ever sportive as a personal challenge, you may have dipped your toe in the sportive water in 2012 and now want to take on bigger challenges by increasing your event distance or entering bigger, more prestigious events. Whatever your goals, we have a plan to suit everyone:

  • Beginner plans use heart rate and cadence as measures of performance and progression and are designed to support riders that are new to cycling, new to structured training or both. On successful completion you should be able to complete a 60 mile sportive with relative ease, or 100 miles with some grit, determination and adrenaline
  • Intermediate plans use heart rate and cadence but also include training sessions based on power data as a measurement your effort.  Intermediate plans are designed for riders who have been cycling for longer than a year, and have already completed some sportive events. The intermediate plan is designed for successful completion of a 100 mile Sportive event.
  • Advanced plans use heart rate and power (you choose).  They are designed for riders who already train specifically for sportive events, and may also be racing competitively

All British Cycling Sportive Training Plans run for an initial 6-month period. This is your Core Training Plan and if adhered to, will deliver you to the Spring events in great shape.  On completion of the Core Training Plan, you may then complete the 3-month Booster Training Plan which will take you into summer 2013.

Before you undertake any form of physical activity or make significant changes to your routine it is a good idea to check with your GP that you are able to undertake the programme.

Plan structure

The structure of the plans is essential to allow you to fit your training around your existing work and family commitments:

  • All training weeks have 3 Primary (essential sessions) and 1 Bonus session (it is up to you whether you complete the bonus session)
  • Some weeks will require you to ride two days back-to-back.
  • Rest days are scheduled, and are essential if you want to improve: you should not miss them!
  • Rest weeks are included, when the training volume and intensity is significantly reduced.  These are essential for your body to adapt to the training and get stronger.
  • Plans will be available in 4-week blocks at

Prior to starting the training plans you might want to:

  • Give your bike a service
  • Buy a heart-rate monitor and cadence computer if you don’t already have one.
  • Treat yourself to the power meter you have been promising yourself. (Nice to have, but in no way essential)
  • Plan a flat, rolling and hilly loop near to home 15-20 miles long. You will use this loop over the coming months to calculate your training zones and measure your progression.
  • Look at your other life commitment; when will be the best time for you to train?  The training process should enhance your life, not take it over.
  • Look through the British Cycling Events Calendar and identify some 2013 events you want to target.
  • Find a friend or group of similar ability that you can ride with on a regular basis.
  • Join a cycling club.

Warm weather cycling: Preparation and Recovery

Beijing 2008, the ice vest was king. London 2012, Great Britain’s Cyclists were literally in ‘hot pants’, with both used as techniques to improve the performance of elite athletes.

However, for us mere mortals, we need a real world approach to maximise our riding time and performance.

Recovery is an essential part of any training programme, as it is during the rest and recovery phase that you become stronger and essentially fitter, as your body adapts to an increased workload. A key element of recovery is good planning and preparation.

When the weather gets warm professional coaches would strongly advise against training on really hot days, or at least to train at the cooler ends of the day, in the morning or evening. It is unlikely though, that when the sun shines for those few glorious hours, you are going to sit in your house waiting for the temperature to drop. You want to ride!

If you are planning to make the most of the summer sun, then follow our simple tips, to ensure you have the best chance of being back on the bike the next day.

Ride drinks

To ensure you have a cold drink in the later part of your ride, freeze a bottle of cordial or water the night before. The bottle will defrost over the course of the ride and will be cool for the last part of your training. Don’t use your best water bottle or fill fully, as the bottle can split when the water freezes, three quarters full is fine, and you can always top up before the start of your ride.

Pre and Post-Ride Weight check

On warm days you lose weight through water loss. A 2% loss in your body weight equates to a 20% performance impairment. So on hot days, how hard you can ride could be limited by your hydration and not your physical ability. A large differential between your weight checks indicates you need to drink more fluid; you should replenish with water or an electrolyte drink. (NB Weight checks need to be done naked, and prior to your shower and recovery routine).


Keep it simple; try cordial with sugar or simple water. If you do use energy drinks, try to use those with electrolytes, to replace those lost through sweating. You really only need energy drinks for intense rides over an hour in duration. For any intensity of ride less than an hour, water is just fine.


As with hydration try and keep it simple. Products which become sticky or overly chewy are not what you want when it is warm. Try simple dried fruits or a cereal bar. A 60g pack of super market bought dried fruit can provide 40g of carbohydrate. Ideal for a 1-2 hour ride.


Clothing should be light-coloured and porous to aid in the dispersal of heat. You may also want to consider the wide range of technical clothing available. These days you can buy shorts, baselayers and even socks that are designed for specific temperature ranges. Although they can seem expensive they can make a real difference in hot weather.

Sun Protection

Sounds obvious, but sun protection is often neglected by cyclists. Make sure you apply your sun-screen pre-ride. A small pack of sun block in your saddle bag or jersey pocket will build your cycling tan in a healthy way.

Ice Vest

You can replicate a post-ride ice vest with a wet, cold towel. Placing the towel around your body core (torso), will relieve muscle tension and reduce your core body temperature.

Plunge Pool

This can be replicated with a cold shower, or even an ice bath. The post-ride benefits of this are that it stimulates circulation, releases “good feeling“ endorphins, and reduces muscle swelling, which in turn can mean less soreness.


Before going to bed it might be worth having a cold (ish) shower, if your ride was particularly hot. Not enough to startle you but enough to bring your core temperate down again. This can be refreshing and allow you to slip off to sleep with ease.

Now that you understand some preparation and recovery principles, make sure you have a reason to use them.


Warming Up & Cooling Down

If you take part in any sportive, race or even club session, you’ll notice that every cyclist has their own pre-ride routine. This can range from sitting in the car with the heaters blasting until the last possible moment, a few light limbering movements and token stretches before throwing their leg over the top tube, to full on pre time trial efforts on a turbo until they’re streaming with sweat. After the ride, most riders will slump in a heap or join a tea and cake queue. But what is the right thing to do pre- and post-ride and why?

Insight Zone expert Dr Andy Kirkland, a Coaching and Education Officer at British Cycling and a BASES accredited sports scientist offers his perspective.

A cool down helps return your body to its pre-exercise state and will aid recovery and adaptation processes

Why Warm-Up?

Warming up is essential to prepare your body and mind to perform at its very best, especially when you are facing a hard effort such as a race or an interval session. Not doing so will normally compromise your performance.


A warm-up results in a number of physiological responses that are essential for optimal performance. A good analogy is allowing your car engine to warm-up on a cold day. Fuel and oil become more viscous and flows better. Moving parts glide past each other more smoothly and the whole engine performs far more efficiently than if you’d just pressed the accelerator to the floor immediately.

A very important aim of the warm-up is to “switch” your aerobic energy system on prior to you starting your main effort. Doing so means you use energy more efficiently and you are less likely to fatigue prematurely as a result. Your heart rate should be increased progressively, enabling more oxygen to be transported through your blood to and used within the working muscles. With increased body temperature, the range of motion around your joints will also improve and you will get close to your optimal efficiency very quickly.

If you will be doing sprint efforts or preparing for very high-intensity race, neuromuscular activation is also very important. That means that signals will be sent from your brain, through the nervous system to your the muscles to tell them to switch on rapidly. That means doing very short efforts, around 6 seconds long at about 80% maximal effort, to prepare for these demands.


Having a planned warm-up routine will help you prepare mentally for your race or training session. Ideally, you should be relatively relaxed and focused on the task in hand rather than worrying about what the competition is doing. You may choose to think about your process goals or race strategies whilst warming up. High levels of anxiety at the start of a race wastes energy and often leads to poor decision making such as starting off too hard. Many riders like to listen to music through headphones during the warm-up as it helps them achieve the appropriate level of arousal and enables them to shut out what others are doing.

How Long?

A good rule of thumb is that the shorter and more explosive an event is, the longer a warm-up needs to be. Before an all-out effort such as track sprint, riders may spend more than an hour building up to the race.

For events such as time trials, shorter circuit road races, XC mountain bike and cyclocross events, a warm-up will typically be in the 20-40 minutes range. The British Cycling 20-minute warm-up is perfect before these types of events.

Should stretching be part of my warm-up?

The consensus is that static stretching before exercise does not prevent injury or enhance performance. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that static stretching may be detrimental to the rider. A warm-up should prepare the body for the range and type of movement that the activity demands. A rugby player may use bounding and dynamic twists but, for a cyclist, the most appropriate type of warm-up is on the bike.

Do I need to warm-up before a sportive?

Typically the first 10-20 minutes of a sportive will be spent progressively building up to your intended pace or intensity, there is no physiological reason for you to do a specific warm-up. That said, you may still benefit from a systematic warm-up as it will help prepare your mind for the event. For example, it may help relax you, reduce adrenalin levels and help prevent you starting too fast. Additionally, if there’s a testing climb straight from the start, you will benefit from warming-up. Spending 10-15 minutes working through either of the first two protocols described here would be ideal and will ensure you don’t hit the climb cold.

Of course, with many larger events, because of the sheer number of riders, you won’t have any choice but to start off slow until the crowds thin out anyway.

Why cool-down?

A cool down helps return your body to its pre-exercise state and will aid recovery and adaptation processes. It should be viewed as the first step to preparing your body for your next training session, race or event.


A progressive cool-down will help remove metabolic waste products from your muscles. If you don’t cool-down, these metabolites will ‘sit’ there and potentially inhibit recovery. A cool-down will also minimise the likelihood of you feeling dizzy, nauseous or fainting post exercise. It will also allow your blood to redistribute around the body, preventing blood pooled in your lower extremities.


A cool-down allows you to mentally wind down after a hard workout or event and gives you time to reflect on your performance.

How Long?

As with warming-up, higher intensity efforts require longer cool downs to return the body to its pre-exercise state. As a rule, enough time should be taken to progressively bring the heart rate down to near resting levels while still turning your legs over. This will typically take 5-10 minutes and should ideally be factored into the end of every ride.

Should stretching be part of my cool-down?

Surprisingly, mainly due to the difficulties in constructing valid studies, there is no clear consensus on whether stretching as part of a cool-down is effective in reducing injury and enhancing recovery or not. What flexibility work does address is a heightened sensitivity in the muscle to ranges of movement beyond those which you experience when sat on your bike or at your desk. This perceived tightness, if left unaddressed, can easily lead to imbalances, poor muscle function and potentially pain or injury.

You may find that your body has become stiff after being in a fixed position on the bike for hours and stretching may help your body return to a normal range of movement. The ideal time to spend 5-10 minutes stretching is as soon as you get off the bike, as your muscle temperature will still be elevated and they will be ‘more open’ to stretching as a result.

However the last thing you’ll want to do after a cold and wet ride is to roll around stretching and you’re unlikely to do a good job. Have your recovery drink, a bath or shower to warm up, put on some warm clothes and then stretch. Usethis routine from Insight Zone Expert Phil Burt, Lead Physiotherapist at British Cycling and Consultant Physiotherapist to the Sky Pro Cycling Team.

Do I need to cool down after a sportive?

We’re not suggesting that you have a turbo set-up at your car to do a full Team Sky post Tour Stage style cool down but, if you haven’t ridden easy for the last couple of kilometres of the ride or got sucked into a sprint for the line, 5-10 minutes spent spinning easily followed by stretching before jumping in your car would definitely be beneficial and, along with following these guidelines, will speed up your recovery.