Ladies Night every Tuesday hosted by TREK

Attention all women....I see a BARGAIN in your near future.

As you may all be aware, TREK is one of the main sponsors of the Women's Cycling League here in Dubai. They are committed to their goal to help encourage women to explore cycling as a hobby/sport. 

TREK already hosts free Summer Cycling Lessons for all those new to the sport. These are run every Monday at 6 am with TREK Tigress Sara Haaris. 

As a further show of their commitment to Women's Cycling , TREK will be hosting a Ladies night every Tuesday after 5 pm. Bike rentals for the ladies will cost just 10 dirhams. Starting May 31st, 2016.

 This is not a women's only night. Men are more than welcome to come along but not eligible for the discount.

Bargains are hard to resist!

On Saddles

On Saddles

There are two sorts of cyclists, those that are impotent and those that are going to be. Well, that is what I was told when seven years ago I decided to buy a bicycle and commented on the medieval instrument of torture that is the modern racing saddle.

I persevered through the pain and discomfort for a stupidly long time. I endured a total numbness that was terrifying and always threatened permanence. Mechanically I remember being in proud working order, but neurologically… no feeling, no sensation whatsoever sometimes for a week at a time after a longer ride. So ‘relations’ were functional but not pleasurable. Endurance increased to infinity or mutual boredom, whichever came first. Deeply unsatisfactory. Luckily given appropriate respite from the Judas Cradle (google it) nervous feeling returned and my hope to be fully active into later life appeared more realistic. But I started to worry about when to conduct my long rides. Marital opportunity drove my training plan and the importance of recovery took on a whole new meaning.

Now, I’m male and not a gynecologist. My experience of the undercarriage of the fairer sex is properly limited by a wonderfully happy, long, monogamous marriage. And my memory of anything that might have counted as broader experience before these 25 years of Nirvana is extremely limited and probably based more on wishful thinking and fantasy than fact. Indeed my reportable memory of anything libidinous is most likely highly fictional as, like most young men, I thought that I drove cars faster and better than anyone else ever did and that I was so good in bed that even professionals would have paid me to play. I suspect that I only remember the feasting, not the long famines or blight. But my lack of real knowledge does not stop me making assumptions. And the key assumption is that all women and men are all different. There are those with more external soft tissue and those with less. Innies and outies. Some of us sit up on our sit bones and some slump. Wide sit bones and narrow. Flexible lower backs and hamstrings. Different hip structures. Stiff backs and weak cores. There are those with a ‘thigh gap’ (apparently highly fashionable at the moment) and those whose legs rub together from the knees upwards. And boys can reorganize the soft bits manually on a long ride, and girls most likely cannot.

Occasionally you can see that someone is differently built. On the cycle track you will see knee action that extends wider than the bars, and then someone whose knees almost knock the top tube with every rotation. Of course this is not necessarily an indicator of the seat/body relationship; just as often it will be biomechanical. You will see some riders practically lying along their bikes, stretched out on badly fitted aerobars. Male or female, that is going to alter the pressure points. There are those whose hips rock as they balance on a saddle jacked up three centimeters too high. (Not tonight, Josephine). But mostly our differences are hidden, and more subtle. The bottom line: Boys have a ‘root’ through, round and over which all the nerves pass – numbness seems to be mainly a ‘boy’ issue – and girls have bits that get sore and bruised.

For some I am a Priest or Doctor figure with whom they are happy to talk stuff that normally doesn’t make it onto Facebook. Because I ride, a lot. And would never talk about it. Nether regions. Crotch tenderness. Saddle sores. Fleshy bits and hairiness. Lubrication. Pimples in hard to see places. Irony.

For amusement, next time you have a sore spot caused by the saddle, just see how much you have to contort yourself in the bathroom to catch sight of the problem area. Naked Twister anyone? This stuff is so private that nature has made it almost impossible for us to see for ourselves. And why is the pain almost always way out of kilter with the reality of the tiny blemish that we finally discover, bent double with a shaving mirror on the bathroom floor? And you will certainly gain a bruise or two in the Hunt for Red October. Bathrooms are so full of hard edges.

So when I am asked, which is often, what saddle do I recommend, I tend to flannel a bit. Then I switch on my experiential advisory head and ignoring the obvious social red flag I opine to the best of my ability. I compose myself, clear my throat (making time to compose myself a little more) and discuss.

There is no perfect saddle for everyone. If there was, all saddles would look and feel the same. And your LBS wouldn’t have a whole wall of them. But there are some key points (and I’ve checked these with Caroline, my wife and a cyclist, to make sure that I’m not talking complete rot on the female side)… Padding is rarely the answer. It all comes down to soft tissue or the root. Try different saddles, lots of different saddles. Adjust the aggression of your bike setup (the drop from saddle to handlebars, and perhaps the length of reach too) with an experienced bike fitter (another priest who won’t blab) especially if you suspect that you are an ‘outie’ with more soft tissue to get bruised. Use chamois cream so that everything slides happily around rather than chafing; but, if you are a girl, not the medicated stuff as it can irritate. And unless you have intimate knowledge of someone else’s anatomy and know it to be exactly the same as yours, don’t recommend your saddle to them. It’s a flawed approach.


Giant Bike Tours for Tourists

I know you all love to cycle!

Living in the U.A.E we all get our share of seasonal guests.

But let's face it,  the same sights  over and over can be a bit of a drag.  

I bet you wouldn't mind doing the "tourist" thing on a bike though, I know I wouldn't.  

Fresh air and a bike and I'm down to see all those sights again.

 Check out the new Giant Bike Tours.

Your tour guide will enlighten you with extensive knowledge of Dubai and all of its sights and sounds.

This is a great tour for guests!

New Online Retailer for Cycling related products

We have plenty of bike shops in the U.A.E but we have no local online retailers.

Purchasing online is an easy and efficient way to shop especially when you are pressed for time.

Now you can shop with the newest online retailer in town!

Snappy Bike Brands sell bikes, bike gear and clothing. Their products are unique and eye catching. They carry one of my favorite brands Cycology.

Check them out!

Indoor Training - Part 2

By Chris O'Hearn



Like inducing a coma in a sauna, but less interesting... one of the nicer ways to describe indoor training, at least until recently.

An hour on a turbo trainer is probably physically equivalent to 90 minutes outside, but mentally it can be an eternity if all you're doing is staring at the carpet. Many people find it hard to force themselves onto a bike so they can ride nowhere.

However technology has come to our aid and time on the trainer can not only be productive and motivating but even social.



In the last few years a whole range of computer programs and apps have been created to take advantage of the indoor cycling market.


There are too many to describe individually but I'll focus on a few of the leading examples. Their features can be found in a range of other products so you can make up your own mind once you have an idea what is important to you.


And the specific features you want may influence your choice of equipment, so I'll return to that at the end.


Basic Visuals


An entry point for many people getting into turbo training are cycling-specific videos, probably the best known being from Sufferfest.


In their early days they were tapes and DVDs and later digital version for computers or tablets.


However they're more than just watching highlight reels. The videos feature cycling action with motivational music around a specific workout. So you can choose your session and the Sufferfest will have appropriate scenery, audio and tell you when to put in your efforts and when to recover.


Sufferfest in particular has a cult following and has created a virtual community of Sufferlandria. By completing certain challenges you earn titles and rewards. It's all about motivation.


Training Programs


The next level up are the more interactive programs, of which Trainer Road is one of the best known, but also PerfPro, Fulgaz or Maximum Trainer.


Features among these vary but they tend to be essentially training plans which interact with your workout. You will generally need a power meter to get the best out of these although they may work without them.


They feature a plan of workouts over a time period which you choose to achieve a specific goal. The program runs on your computer or tablet as you complete the workout and reads the power (and HR, cadence etc) from your bike or trainer. It's then recorded against the plan so you can see what you've achieved or found difficult.


Some of these also feature visuals and music. Bkool for example has links to Spotify so you can play a soundtrack, or Fulgaz which puts you in a pre-shot video on real courses. Some even using rides of your own that you upload and the program recreates using GPS and mapping technology. Other common features are ghost riders and some competitive challenges.


Most of these are subscription services, usually around the cost of something like Strava Premium. But you're not only getting some pretty picture, you may be getting access to a library of workouts, plans and tips which can be very useful in your training.


One question some people have is whether or not they still need to use paid services like Strava or Training Peaks, and the answer is probably yes. First because when you ride outside you'll want to have all your riding logged in one place, and secondly because the analytical tools of something like TP for example are much better for tracking performance and improvement over time. Many of these programs will exchange files so they work well together.


Virtual Riding


The newest development in indoor training has the potential to revolutionise it.


Zwift launched late in 2014 as a closed test version. With a limited number of users and many thousands of applicants it was the cycling equivalent of getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Nearly a year later Zwift is open to all but still in a development phase, with a full launch to come, when it's expected to be a paid subscription service.


Zwift originates in the world of Massive Multiplayer Online games. Think of online Call of Duty fused with cycling.


It takes the data from your indoor trainer - power works best but isn't essential - and uses it to put you in an online virtual environment alongside other people doing the same thing in real time.


You have an avatar which you can change in appearance, plus a selection of bikes and kit. It appears on a course created by the program designers with hills, flats, bridges trees, animals and even a blimp. For the 2015 World Road Race championships they recreated the Richmond, Virginia course. In-game challenges include sprints and climbs with virtual jerseys awarded to the holders at any time. Names, countries, power output and ride data is displayed onscreen plus you can send messages and chat to other riders.


Your avatar rides the course at the same time as other people around the world. You can catch them, draft other riders, or ride in groups and even race. When you put out more power your avatar goes faster, just like real life. A big social scene has developed with daily group rides ranging from beginner social laps to all-out races with some very serious riders.


Zwift has also cleverly used pro riders to promote the concept, with Jens Voigt acting as an ambassador and doing occasional online group rides. Other pros like Thomas de Gendt and Ted King have used it regularly, especially when recovering from injuries.


If you can't tell already, I have to admit I'm a huge Zwift fan. It appeared on the scene just as I'd broken my hip at the beginning of 2015 and was facing a long period of recovery and indoor riding. I begged for an invite to the closed Beta and thought I would just use it until I'd recovered. Nine months later I'm still doing probably half my rides on Zwift by choice and would gladly sign up to a paid service.


Does the Trainer matter?


The final piece in this part of the puzzle is whether the choice of software affects the choice of trainer, or vice versa, and the answer is yes.


In Part 1 I mentioned Smart and Dumb trainers. A Smart trainer can link the indoor bike to the program and change the resistance, cadence and so on to give the most realistic experience. So if Trainer Road says to increase power then the resistance on your trainer goes up, or if Zwift shows you going up an 8% gradient then similarly it gets harder to push the pedals.


The leading smart trainer is probably the Wahoo Kickr but it's a rapidly growing segment with new entrants coming thick and fast. CycleOps Pro Beam, Lemond Revolution, Tackx Neo, Kinetic Rock and Roll, Computrainer Road Machine are also capable smart trainers, some direct drive and some using the tyre contact design.


Combined with the visuals it really is the closest thing you will get to simulating a real-world experience. You see the hill and you feel the hill.


Smart trainers don't have to be used in smart mode of course, you can use them just as you would a dumb trainer. The difference with a dumb trainer is that the power is still controlled by you, not the software.


If your main objective is to complete pre-set workouts like riding 30 minutes at 80% power then a dumb trainer is a perfectly fine option. But if you're planning on spending a lot of time indoors and you really want to get the most life-like experience then a smart trainer is a good investment.


Chris O' Hearn

Chris O'Hearn is a competitive cyclist who races for the Ride Bike Shop team in the UAE and Dulwich Paragon in the UK. Chris does road racing, TTs, sportives and group rides. He is a coached rider and trains 4-5 times a week. He's usually easy to spot by being one of the few people not wearing a helmet, unless he has to. His favourite bike is his Giant TCR. He also has a Giant Trinity TT bike, a Ridley Noah and a steel custom-built Roberts. At the beginning of 2015 Chris had a bad accident while training and fractured his hip. He was back on the bike within three weeks and has been working to recover with both indoor and outdoor training.

Indoor Training - Part 1

By Chris 0'Hearn

Indoor Training - Part 1


There's a saying that there's no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing - so there's no reason not to get out on your bike.


But it isn't always that simple and indoor training is often a good alternative, not only because of climate.


Riders recovering from injury often find it useful for safety and control, while some training sessions can be completed much more precisely and accurately than outdoors where you have to deal with changing terrain or interruptions.


The problem with indoor training has always been that it's mind-numbingly dull. Many regard an hour on a trainer behind dental surgery as a way to pass the time.


Fortunately a couple of recent developments have the potential for really changing the indoor training game. Indoor cycling studios like Bespoke Ride in Dubai are following the model of Athlete Lab in cities like London and Singapore. Then there's the development of virtual environments like Zwift which has crossed online gaming with indoor training.


I'll explore those separately, but for this first part I'll start with the basics. You want to train indoors at home, what next?




Cycling is just a shopping opportunity for middle-aged men, at least that's what my wife tells me, so of course we have to start with equipment.


There are three basic types of trainer and then you have a couple more choices, so let's explain those first. Not everyone would categorise them in the same way as some of the options overlap but this is how I think of it.




The most 'traditional' type of trainer are called Rollers. Basically just cylinders on axles where you balance the bike and it spins under your rear wheel. The size of the roller can change resistance but this is mostly done with the bike gears.


Rollers are really best suited for more experienced riders - look up the many You Tube videos of people falling off them if you want to see why. They are great for balance and developing a smooth stroke but if you're a candidate for Rollers you'll probably know it already.


Contact Trainer


This is the most common and accessible type of trainer, where the bike rests in a cradle and the rear tyre is in contact with a drum which provides resistance.


There are different types based on how they generate resistance. The main options are fluid resistance, fan resistance or magnetic resistance.


So many options and levels are available it's impossible to say which is best suited but generally fluid and electro-magnetic options are more compact and quieter. Magnetic resistance allows you to set the levels of resistance, often from a control attached to your bars but it may require a power source. Fluid resistance increases and decreases with your own efforts, much like on the road and is probably the most realistic of these options.


If you're using a contact trainer you need to think about tyres too.


Contact trainers take a heavy toll on road tyres and it's better, and quieter, to use a specific trainer tyre which has a heavier rubber compound. However these can't be used on the road, so either you need to change the tyre, which is a major hassle, or have a second wheel (or bike) which is dedicated to the trainer.


Direct Drive Trainer


These are generally more sophisticated and expensive than contact trainers but are a good option if you want to get really serious.


The best known of these is the Wahoo Kickr but there are other options. Essentially the trainer replaces the rear wheel of your bike so your chain becomes the contact point, not the tyre, eliminating the swapping issue and also avoiding wear on your rear cassette.


They are often quieter but the main benefit of direct drive trainers is usually that they include power measurement, which also explains the cost.


Dumb or Smart


Sounds obvious really - who wants Dumb? But there are a few things to think about here.


First is whether you train - or want to train - with a power meter. A dumb trainer generally means there's no power meter in the trainer.


But If you have a power meter of some sort you'll be able to adjust your riding on a dumb trainer according to the feedback from your meter. Even if you don't have a meter some dumb trainers may estimate your power, and there are other non-power options for feedback like heartrate.


A smart trainer generally has some sort of inbuilt power measurement. Most direct drive trainers are smart, but increasingly many contact trainers are also smart so it's becoming more accessible.


The other aspect of a smart trainer is that it can usually take input from external sources like a training program such as Trainer Road. So your ride can automatically follow a plan and synchronise the files. Some programs combine these with videos or virtual courses which adds yet another dimension.


It's the closest thing you can get to real road riding and if you're spending many hours on the trainer it can be a great way to simulate the outdoor experience.


More on Smart v Dumb when we deal with the training environment in Part 2.


Bits and Pieces


Finally, whatever training you're doing indoors there are a few other things to think about. Riding indoors is sweaty and hot and you have to protect your bike and your home.


  • You'll need a trainer mat to go underneath. This not only stops sweat pooling in your carpet but dampens noise and vibration.


  • A sweat-catcher, like a triangular towel that goes from your bars back to the saddle will stop sweat getting in parts of your bike where you really don't want corrosive liquids.


  • A fan is essential. Whatever the room temperature it helps to have moving air as you ride.


  • Entertainment - many people listen to music, watch TV or there is a popular line of cycling videos called Sufferfest which combine planned workouts with music.


  • Towels - small hand towels to wipe your face and neck.


  • Hydration - just because you're inside doesn't mean you don't need to drink as usual, in fact you may find you need more.


Most of all you need a good attitude. It's easy at home to put off the training, find distractions or not be able to cope with the lack of changing scenery. Apply the same dedication to your indoor and outdoor riding and you're on the way.


In the next part I'll look at the new ways computer games are enriching the indoor experience.





Chris O' Hearn

Chris O'Hearn is a competitive cyclist who races for the Ride Bike Shop team in the UAE and Dulwich Paragon in the UK. Chris does road racing, TTs, sportives and group rides. He is a coached rider and trains 4-5 times a week. He's usually easy to spot by being one of the few people not wearing a helmet, unless he has to. His favourite bike is his Giant TCR. He also has a Giant Trinity TT bike, a Ridley Noah and a steel custom-built Roberts. At the beginning of 2015 Chris had a bad accident while training and fractured his hip. He was back on the bike within three weeks and has been working to recover with both indoor and outdoor training.

Bespoke Ride - First Look

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a preview session at Bespoke Ride. 

The studio is located in Al Quoz and is easy to find. 

My class was for 7:00 pm.

 Traffic is a little hairy in the evenings. I would recommend that you start out earlier if you are aiming for an evening ride.

The studio is incredibly spacious, the locker rooms are fantastic and well equipped with towels, hair dryers, shampoo etc

The indoor bikes are like no other and that is probably because they were specifically made for this studio. They look and feel like real road bikes.

You can change the gears manually but there is no need as all of the bikes are controlled by a computer. All rider data is displayed on the screens in front of the studio and give live data so you know exactly what you are putting out...or not.

If you have road cycling shoes bring them along. For those who do not have shoes, you need not worry. Shoes are available in various sizes for use in the studio.

This particular class was not easy, I am told there will be beginner classes in addition to other disciplines and levels. 

In my personal opinion, these classes offer excellent training for cyclists especially during the extremely hot summer months.  A training plan and studio like Bespoke Ride can really help improve your cycling performance.



Whats In Your Cycling Bag?!

By Aimee Davidson

Whats In Your Cycling Bag?!


Living, working and cycling in Dubai often means that you need to drive to get to where you want to cycle from. The most convenient way to make sure you don’t drive to your start location without your shoes for example is to keep a bag of essentials in your car.


So what SHOULD be in your bike bag:

-          Shoes

-          Helmet

-          Sunglasses & Sun screen

-          ICE (In case of emergency bracelet or similar)

-          A repair pack: tube, pump, tyre levers

-          Multitool

-          Foot pump


And then there are the DESIRABLES:

-          Packaged nutrition – Bars and Gels

-          Gas canisters

-          Sealant

-          Spare tubes – with a valve long enough for your wheels! Or in addition, valve extenders

-          Arm & Knee warmers & Gillet

-          Spare tshirts, shorts and a chapeau

-          Chamois cream

-          Spare batteries for your HR monitor / Power meter / Lights

-          Spare gloves and socks

-          Shoe freshener

-          Clear glasses

-          Safety pins (for pinning race numbers on in an emergency!)

-          Tissues / Wet Wipes


And if you do happen to break into your emergency socks, don’t forget to replenish them with a fresh pair when you get home!



Cycling in Hot Weather Conditions

By Amber Mirza

The biggest error any cyclist can make is not being prepared for our incredibly hot weather. 

1. Acclimate yourself to the weather, start out by riding  at a shorter and lower intensity pace for 7-10 days. Start out with 20 minutes and progress to 90 mins over the course of 10-14 days. Allow your body to adapt to the hotter weather. Your body will learn how to regulate its core temperature and the result will be a better ride. (please note i am referring to hot weather and not scorching oven like conditions, for oven like conditions....train indoors or try riding early mornings or in the evenings).

2. Don't forget your sunscreen, sunburns are painful and will increase your body's fluid needs. If you already suffer dehydration issues this is bad news. Protect your skin! I use both sunscreen and arm skins. I wet the arm skins frequently when it is extremely hot.

3. Fluids! I like to pre-hydrate using electrolytes. I only keep water onboard during my ride. I use two bottles, One bottle is full of frozen water and the other is 75% frozen water topped off with drinkable water.  That's my personal preference and that is what works for me. Ask your riding buddies If they have a hydration protocol. Experiment and see what works for you. 

4. Weigh yourself before riding and afterwards to determine if you have hydrated correctly.

5. In my attempt to keep my core temperature down, I have invested in an Arctic Heat Ice Vest. It arrives in a week and when it does I will write a full review.

Here are some details about the Ice Vest

Designed To
counter the harmful effects of heat stress. 

  • Reduces skin temperature by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit while maintaining a
    stable core temperature
  • Delays the onset of dehydration by conserving fluid that would normally be
    lost through sweating
  • Lowers cardiac output towards the skin and allows more blood to be sent back
    to the muscles resulting in a prolonged high level of performance.

"The Arctic Heat Cooling Vest contains a special non-toxic completely biodegradable viscose gel that absorbs the water it is soaked in. The materials used in the vest are designed to lower skin temperature, which in turn stabilises the core body temperature. By controlling and stabilising the core body temperature a person can perform at his or her optimum level for much longer, sustained periods".

Do I need a Coach?

By Aimee Davidson


After three years of riding, participating in a few events and stepping up to ride with the big boys, I found I wasn’t progressing up to the strength and speed that I wanted. I was always last in on the mountain rides and no matter how many times I went and rode those mountains, it was not getting any easier and I was not getting any faster.

I tried faster, smaller groups without much success. I spoke to a lot of people about coaching and different coaches. Then came the debate of should I look to be coached on heart rate or power? What are my goals, what do I want to achieve? Whats the going rate for a cycling coach?! So many questions!

I did my research and chose to start with a coach who would be happy to coach on heart rate as I didn’t know if I would enjoy cycling on my own and forking out for a power meter may just be a waste of money. I trained with a coach recommended to be by a close friend. I took a chance with this guy but everyone has to start somewhere and he seemed to be quite flexible, just what I needed with my changeable work schedule – and was happy to touch base with me via a Skype call once a week to discuss my training pre and post. For 4 months I trained with heart rate. I really enjoyed it and saw some great results. Then after a lot of research and deliberation, I bit the bullet and got a power meter – another topic in itself that will in time be covered!

It’s a lot of hard work along side a full time job. Lots of early mornings. Your body does adjust to the early mornings once you get in a routine.

Rates for a coach vary from person to person and the package required but range from 400-1500AED per month. Many coaches will ask you to commit to a 3 month period to start off as quite often, it takes around 6 weeks until you start seeing results from the hard work you put in.




Tips for New Riders

by Chris O'Hearn

New Riders Start Here


You don't have to look hard to find dozens of "How to ride in a group" videos and commentaries across the cycling internet.

They tend to be fairly similar, dealing with taking turns, signals, formations and so on; all good advice.

But they also seem aimed at "ideal" group riding, assuming you're all of similar ability, know what everyone else is doing and are riding along on a nice flat, clear road with not much else to worry about.

I often ride out with the Ride Club 'Steady' group on Saturday mornings. It's a very mixed ability ride. For me it's an easy recovery, for others it's a real challenge of distance and fitness, and not just about riding in a group.

So with that in mind I have a few suggestions for people who perhaps aren't as strong or experienced and are just trying to get around as best they can. I think it also applies better to our conditions. I first posted this on Facebook and have included some of the excellent feedback.


1. Look for the wind and get sheltered.

If it's two abreast make sure you're on the side away from the wind. If you're on the windy side ask a stronger rider to swap, or come out of the line, go back and swap over.

2. Hold on to the wheels.

It makes so much difference. In races we talk about every rider having a number of matches to burn. Losing the wheel means creating a gap, and that decreases the benefit you get from drafting. When you have to catch up or cross a gap, even a small one, you are burning a match you could have kept. This includes anticipating corners or turns - it always stretches out so keep close, try not to brake more than necessary and be ready to accelerate a little coming out.

3. Keep it comfortable.

It's great if you can come through and take a turn on the front but unless you're piloting Marcel Kittel into the final sprint a turn shouldn't be something that puts you into the red. I see many people struggle through stages of discomfort and losing speed, forcing themselves to stay on the front until they slump off exhausted. Another match gone.

4. If you can't take a turn that's fine.

It's a good indicator to the ride captain that people are getting tired. But it's best to get out of the line and go to the back well in advance. Don't go past third wheel if you aren't planning to keep moving up. If you do get to the front but don't want to be there just keep your speed, come through and straight off so the group doesn't slow.

5. Hit the hills.

Not the big ones, that's another story, but the little rises, motorway bridges and so on. There's no need to fall back. As you approach them try to pick up a bit of speed so you have momentum. Look for some space - if the person in front slows down you don't want them to check your speed. Come a little out of the line if you have to, even move up so the bunch is coming past you rather than dropping you. With luck you can hold on enough to keep with the pack as you crest the rise. That's why you saved those matches.

All the other stuff about being predictable, ride smooth, hydrate properly, have snacks etc applies of course. I just thought these were some useful extra things that might help newer riders get up to the level where they can actually use some of the advice in those Group Tips articles.


1 Comment

Chris O' Hearn

Chris O'Hearn is a competitive cyclist who races for the Ride Bike Shop team in the UAE and Dulwich Paragon in the UK. Chris does road racing, TTs, sportives and group rides. He is a coached rider and trains 4-5 times a week. He's usually easy to spot by being one of the few people not wearing a helmet, unless he has to. His favourite bike is his Giant TCR. He also has a Giant Trinity TT bike, a Ridley Noah and a steel custom-built Roberts. At the beginning of 2015 Chris had a bad accident while training and fractured his hip. He was back on the bike within three weeks and has been working to recover with both indoor and outdoor training.

Top 10 Questions to ask yourself before Upgrading / Buying a Bike

by Aimee Davidson

A dilemma full of mixed emotions for most of us at some point or various points in our cycling lifetime! Which bike to buy?


There are many questions to ask yourself before you start window shopping for bikes:

1.         What are my cycling goals?

Before you spend the money, make sure it’s a sport you will continue to practice. Perhaps hire some bikes to test performance and geometry if this is your first road bike

2.        What have you achieved so far in cycling and what is your goal? Do you want to climb quicker? Get a better result in a particular challenge or place higher in a particular race?

3.        What is your reason for upgrading and how much worth will your upgrade give?

4.        Are you comfortable in your current bikes geometry?

5.     What is your budget and is it sensible for what you are looking for?


Once you have clearly answered these questions, you should have an idea of what specification your (new) bike should have & what size you should be looking for.


Look at various different brands. Do not limit yourself to women’s specific bikes if you are female. Just make sure that the reach is one that you are comfortable with, has been recommended to you or that you have had on a bike before. Gather some options from your local bike shops, make some comparisons with what you can get online for the same money. Don’t make an impulse buy just because you like the colours of your potential new bike!

6.        Does your current gear ratio work for you or do you want a change ratios for climbing / the flat?

7.       Do you fancy the idea of having Di2 rather than manual gearing? I personally opted for Di2 because of the fast shifting and always having a struggle to use the farthest lever with my small hands!

8.         Is weight important to you? Do you want to opt for an alloy frame or a carbon frame?

9.        Wheels: are you at a stage in your cycling lifetime where you would benefit from aero / deeper rimmed wheels? Aero or deep rimmed wheels are generally heavier than the standard wheel sets that most bikes come with. The benefit with aero wheels come with increased speed. Once you are averaging speeds of 33kph alone, these types of wheels will help you maintain speed and keep your wheels rolling quickly.

10. Have you had a proper bike fit ?  

If you need any other pointers, ask the knowledgeable people in your cycling community, the people who ride often. The representatives from your LBS who ride bikes – they are the ones with the knowledge that they can pass on!


Have a look at this video for additional valid points regarding upgrades on your existing road bike.

Retül Bike Fit- Is it worth it? A side note on Bespoke Ride

I had a bike fit last year, so why am I getting another one?

Being an instructor I am well aware of my pedal stroke and bio-mechanics on a bike. Even though I had an initial bike fit when I bought my road bike it wasn't as thorough and there are a few issues that plagued my mind.

While I'm relatively comfortable on my bike, I do have a few issues that I feel can be addressed by a more in depth review and bike fit analysis.

With these thoughts in mind I called up an old friend and certified Retül bike fitter and owner of Bespoke Ride  Vitor Carvalho.

Upon arriving  my bike was promptly fitted to the Retül rotating platform.

Using  a handheld digitizer the contours, curves and fixed points of my bike were all measured providing a complete digital map of the bike.

Next was a physical assessment to assess my movement patterns, flexibility and address any issues or concerns relating to my performance on my bike.

After the physical assessment I was asked to put on my cycling shoes and mount my bike. LED markers were strategically placed on eight anatomical points: the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel, and toe. These were placed on both sides of the body allowing the computer to collect information for a left sided bike fit and a right sided bike fit. Taking a bike fit for both sides of the body was important as I learned my right and left were not the same.

As I started to pedal the Retül's sensor bar gathered real-time, three-dimensional data of my pedal strokes and movements and knee alignment. This was amazing to see in real time. I can be quite maniacal teaching pedal stroke drills in a class setting, but seeing my own pedal stroke technique was interesting and I learned a few things about myself along the way. It's not always the bike that needs adjustment, sometimes its YOU.

I get these hot spots in my shoes on longer rides. My peers attributed these hot spots of pressure to dehydration.  After assessing myself after many outdoor rides I know that dehydration isn't always the case. The culprit turns out is a simpler issue. Misaligned cleats. Using the Retül system, we were able to make the correct adjustments, I felt an immediate difference on a short test ride. I'll update this story again once I have gone on a longer ride. But for now the difference was very apparent.

My shoulders always felt slightly under pressure, the pressure more pronounced the longer I was riding. Turns out that my seat needs to be pushed forward, the problem is that it's already maxed out. It can't possibly be pushed forward which means I need new seat post that allows my saddle to come forward a little more. With my new seat post installed, my shoulders will be pressure free. 

All these adjustments will make me an efficient comfortable rider:)

Vitor is an incredibly patient and knowledgeable guy. I highly recommend seeing him for a Bike Fit. 

A Retül bike fit will cost 1000 AED , in my mind comfort is king and a good bike fit is money well spent. 

Vitor has offered a special discount of 800 AED for groups. You need to be a group of 6 people to book in with him to avail this price.

For 1500 AED you can have 2 Retül bike fits, so maybe a road bike and a mountain bike.

Contact Vitor:


Bespoke Ride is a new studio that is slated to open at the end of August.  I love the concept of indoor training on a bike that looks like a real outdoor bike. Bike shoes will be available with a booked class. Expect each class to run for approximately for 1 hour and to cost 100 AED. You will also be able to buy class packages (an FTP test will be included). Big screens will be up and running with your data for viewing.

Here's a sneak peak at the beautiful prototype indoor bike. 

The Zin, Retül's handheld digitizer

Saddle issues being banished

Wahoo KICKR update and the new KICKR Snap

By Amber Mirza

We have all heard the amazing things about the Wahoo KICKR and while it is not yet available for the UAE market it is well on it's way. 

I Spoke to the folks at Wahoo Fitness in Atlanta, GA and here is what they have told me. "The KICKR is not yet certified in the UAE.  We need to go through the proper certification processes before we can legally sell the product in country.  Also, we are in final talks with a few fully established cycling distributors. I will select one of these candidates as our official importer in UAE".

So for those of you that are waiting, hold tight. This product will reach the market soon. No dates yet.

In the meanwhile let's have a look at the latest product from Wahoo Fitness.

The Wahoo SNAP vs. The KICKR

The Snap has all the features of the Wahoo KICKR but with differences which are listed below.

The SNAP weighs in at 38 lbs.  9 lbs lighter than the KICKR.

The Flywheel weighs 10.5 lbs, the KICKR 12.5 lbs.

The watts top out at 1100 on the Snap and 1550 on the KICKR.

The SNAP does not require the removal of the bike's back wheel. It simply snaps right on.

Unlike the KICKR, it does not support third party power meters. The SNAP measures speed,distance and power. Cadence is measured through an external sensor.

The SNAP will is available from Wahoo Fitness. It is priced at 849.99 usd. 

The KICKR is 1099.99 usd, but you can now buy it for 950.00 usd. Refurbished.

Review by DC Rainmaker HERE   

DC Rainmaker YouTube review HERE

Have a look at this video from Wahoo Fitness on the new SNAP.

The Dirt is also for Skirts

By Sara Harris

(Title inspired by Angelika Whittaker - Founder of the Dirt Skirts MTB - the first all Ladies Mountain Bike group in the UAE).

I have owned a bike since 1999. I started with a hybrid and did urban trails through Barcelona and out in the Spanish countryside.  I took the bike to the Caribbean where it was  unfortunately stolen from the dive shop and when I moved back to the city (Dubai), I bought a Trek hard tail.

I learned basic off-road biking techniques by cycling across the hard bits of Jumeirah beach, tackling kerbs (which in turn tackled me on occasion) and doing small jumps over uneven paving. Small stuff, small steps.

I bought a road bike in 2010 and a couple of years later after vast amounts of road cycling, I decided to dust off the Trek and take to Showka in the Hajjar Mountains (UAE) and attempt some trails.  I found it immensely difficult on the stony areas, and frustratingly seemed to come off the bike every 30 minutes. After about 4 or 5 rides and several bumps I decided it was time to invest in a full suspension bike and do things properly.

I bought a GT Force full-suspension bike.  My credit card hated me but my world opened, I could now ride over the cobbled wadis without my heart in my mouth and the bike just heightened my confidence and riding pleasure.  So much so, that I became too confident and spilled over the handle bars  into a ditch and shattered my hand and wrist.  I was not totally"unconscious competent" and learned a painful lesson.

A year later, after two operations, I was back on the bike, somewhat gingerly.  The psychological side of looking down dry ravines and ditches and trying to put that head over heels spin out in the back of my mind was slightly testing.

Now, into the hot UAE summers we have decided to continue mountain biking on weekends in addition to road cycling, as part of additional and varied training.

Here’s why mountain biking is beneficial for any road cyclist:

  • Confidence in bike handling
    • If you can handle a mountain bike up and down goat trails your awareness increases and so does your ability to handle a bike through sticky corners and unexpected obstacles.
    • Your margins are less than on the road so you learn to be more efficient. Reaction times are quickened as mountain biking terrain often presents the unexpected, even if you have ridden the same trails before. Note:  I have not come off since my accident, touch wood! 
  • Interval training
    • Generally you will use a lot of effort to ride up the slopes and once you reach the top there is normally a period of flat terrain or a slope downwards. Your legs and lungs work hard to the top and then recover for a few minutes before you attempt the next portion or as you return through the same route.
    • The short and steep climbs are quite intense and these can emulate sprints and intervals that you might do on your road bike.
  • Pushing your limits
    • A mountain bike must be allowed to perform – that’s what it’s designed to do! You can push the limit on a mountain bike and if your back wheel spins out you can reel it with all those handling skills you have learnt or even bail out – there are no oncoming cars to harm you.
    • You will learn to shift your weight on downward slopes and also how to absorb rocky or bumpy routes. The wider tyres help you to push the capability of the bike and you in turn will learn to go with the flow of your bike. Don’t fight it!
    • Remember that speed is generally your friend. You can pedal out of most tricky situations, it’s when you slower the pace that you will generally topple over.

Mountain biking is not really “cross-training” per say, as you use similar muscles for cycling, however the intensity of the use of those muscles is far greater in the short spurts and it is also argued that different muscle groups are used.

If you are training for a triathlon you may be more interested in cross training with swimming and running, however the gains on fitness and bike handling skills from mountain biking are 10-fold.  And it is fun in the great outdoors! And cooler too!

I recently read an article where Czech bike manufacturer Superior said that “female cyclists ‘do not generally need to push their limits’ and that they ‘just want to enjoy the time spent in nature’ when they ride downhill trails.”

Ladies please ignore that 15th century mentality and dispel that absolute myth.  Look at the long list of female downhill racers, mountain bikers and cyclocross champions and put your fears away.

The UAE sports a very large group of female mountain bikers who hit the trails almost every weekend.  It is a growing passion and I know many ladies who would prefer to pull on the baggy shorts over the weekend and take off to the mountains instead of riding on the flats with smooth tyres.

If you’d like to give mountain biking a go, please drop me a PM and also check out the Facebook page of the Dirt Skirts, run by Angelika Whittaker.

MTB websites

Dirt Skirts FB page


Sara Harris

Sara Harris is a triathlete,scuba diving and free diving instructor, and owner of Swim Bike Run Rinse.Repeat Swim Bike Run is a new project aimed at specific training, improvement, events and nutrition for triathletes, whether experienced or beginners. Opening early 2016 in Dubai.

Hoo-Ha Matters on a Blazing Saddle

This is a topic of conversation that has come up quite a bit over the last few months, especially now the ladies cycling scene has really grown. Ladies are ditching their morning spinning classes for some time on the tarmac or trails, investing in team kit, buying bikes, renting bikes and forming female cycling groups all over the world. 

Now and again someone will message saying “I can’t make it to tonight’s ride as I am sore”.  I remember over a year ago not many women were willing to say that that “sore” did not mean muscles but actually saddle sore.  Mentioning lady parts was embarrassing... "perhaps it's only me!".

Now that groups are bonding and women are realising more and more that it’s not “just them”, but everyone, these conversations keep cropping up, on forums and also in private.

So I thought I’d put something out there for those who still feel a little shy to mention it.

Most female cyclists, whether roadies, triathletes or MTB'ers have experienced blistering, redness, infection, UTI, and general discomfort while riding and all are seeking that miracle cream for a more comfortable ride.

The general tips gleaned from a range of women during rides and forums suggest the use of chamois creams.  There are various brands on the market, typically amongst the ladies I ride with I hear the following brands: Assos, Sudocreme, FIT, Assos with Vaseline, Chamois Butt’r, Nappy rash cream, Chapeau Cream.  Some cyclists say apply liberally and others advise women not to go crazy on chamois cream.  Good shorts and the right saddle (and positioning) should avoid the need to use of loads of cream.

One of my cycling buddies has a mixture of Lanacane, Chamois Butt’r and Canesten.  She calls it her “Happy Hoo-Ha cream”.  There you go.

You have different opinions right there, so you will need to try different things and discover what works for you. 

 If you are loathe to buy chamois cream which can be expensive, there is a concoction made by Acme Bicycle Company (USA) that you could make at home.


  • 8 oz Vaseline
  • 1/2 oz Neosporin (or any triple antibiotic ointment)
  • ¼-½ tsp tea tree oil

Directions: Warm the Vaseline in a bath of warm water. Once it gets soft, stir in the other ingredients. Vaseline doesn’t wash away during the swim, and Neosporin is anti-bacterial as is tea tree oil.

You might need to consider that your saddle or shorts may also not be right for you, if you suffer from soreness a lot.  If you feel that you are riding on thorns and have a prickly butt there is definitely something wrong!

You will experience a “normal” amount of soreness from a long ride.  In an article in Triathlete magazine the following indications are listed which are quite useful:

This Is Normal

  • Minor bruising or a little bit of soreness under your skeletal system, particularly in the sit bones or pubic ramus area
  • Minor skin irritation
  • Discomfort when increasing time in the saddle
  • On a split-nose saddle, like the ISM Adamo or Dash, discomfort more focused on the pubic ramus area (under the pelvis) that gets better as you acclimate to the saddle over a few weeks

This Is Not Normal

  • Severe chafing (saddle sores or cysts)
  • Inflammation of the genitals
  • Prolonged numbness, including pain or difficulty urinating after riding
  • Loss or decrease in bladder control

If you experience anything abnormal I would strongly recommend that you have them checked by your doctor.  I have heard about female cyclists leaving it unchecked and suffering infection, further blistering and then even stitches to assist with healing.

As a general rule, make sure that your shorts are clean and dry before use, and I have also read that you should not use fabric softener on them.  Do not wear them for longer than you need to, change out of them soon after your ride and put on dry underwear.  If you are at a facility where you can shower before a long ride home, even better.  If not, have a supply of baby wipes with you so that you can clean up any chamois cream off your skin before you travel. Being sterile, clean and dry is key so as not to harbour or cultivate any infections.  In the UAE particularly we have a harsh and hot climate during the summer months and your last home stretch could mean 20-30 minutes of riding in 40 degrees centigrade.  The heat on the skin can take its toll!

If you break your skin accidently and the cuts are small, a product such as Eucerin’s Aquaphor  or gentle antibiotic cream should help. I have used Mustela Barrier cream as it is non greasy and does not soak through clothes, and gives me almost an overnight result.  You could also treat any swelling use ice in a sock or thin towel and relax with the ice pack applied.  Ice bricks are particularly useful, keep them in the car in your cooler box – I have driven home with them strategically placed before!

Happy riding ladies – and remember that discussing your vajayjay concerns is not taboo, it could be helpful to others who are likely to have suffered the same issues.

"What gets said on the road, stays on the road".

Comment /Source

Sara Harris

Sara Harris is a triathlete,scuba diving and free diving instructor, and owner of Swim Bike Run Rinse.Repeat Swim Bike Run is a new project aimed at specific training, improvement, events and nutrition for triathletes, whether experienced or beginners. Opening early 2016 in Dubai.

Sweat Stuff

Very recently I attended a Hydration workshop that was organized for a group of ladies. The turn out was great and that meant I wasn't alone in my quest to learn more about this topic.

I was expecting to dispel a few theories and confirm some other ideas I had about hydration. .

Questions on my mind ranged from how do I hydrate before a ride, how do I manage my fluids during the ride and after my ride? Do I only drink when I'm thirsty? Or do I drink before thirst sets in?

Sometimes I do a good job in the hydration department and sometimes I end up with dizziness and headaches after a ride even though I felt I was well hydrated. Obviously something is amiss.

I set out to this workshop searching for clarity. To figure out where I was going wrong and how to avoid those post ride headaches and the dizziness and wobbly feelings immediately after my ride.

I'm hoping to clarify things for myself and in turn I hope it helps someone else out there too.

We hear a lot of things in the media and many times it's some sort of product endorsement, this creates a lot of unnecessary confusion and can detract from diagnosing what you actually need to be mindful of in your own situation.

I did some sound research and below is what I surmised.

The Basics

What is Hydration About?

Hydration is about maintaining our total body water. We are about 55-70% total water depending on our lean mass. Lean muscle holds more water.

We have 3 major compartments in our bodies.

Intracellular space inside our cells

Extracellular space outside our cells

Vascular space (in the blood vessels) and Interstitial space (between the cells).

Our bodies are remarkable machines, capable of maintaining a system of self regulation (homeostasis).

Homeostasis keeps the body functioning within a normal range by maintaining a stable a environment.

Our bodies are constantly working to maintain our blood pressure at all times. The body controls this by a series of mechanisms such as thirst, sweat , breathing and eliminating waste.

Water shifts between compartments based on changing electrolytes (mostly sodium and potassium).

It's the water and electrolyte balance that determines how most of our systems function especially our nerves and muscles.


Let's look at some factors that affect hydration.

1. The Environment: Temperature, Humidity, and Altitude

In Dubai, we are subjected to excessive heat for many months out of the year.

2. Exercise intensity and duration=energy expenditure (calories)=heat load

3. The Individual Person: fitness levels, surface area, weight.

All of these contribute to HEAT LOAD.

How does our body cope with all that heat load?

  1. The blood vessels in our skin vasodilate , blood flow to the skin increases in order to remove heat and there is a redistribution of blood flow in our system. This leads to something called

  2. Relative Hypovalemia: There is no fluid loss at this stage,but because of this redistribution of blood flow, the blood in the vascular system(blood vessels) decreases this results in a drop in blood pressure putting a load on the cardiac system. The cardiac system responds by increasing our heart rate.

  3. Sweating: We lose water and electrolytes as our bodies try to cool down via the evaporation of sweat.

Heat load creates competition between trying to dissipate heat and supplying vital oxygen to our muscles.

It takes as little as a 2% decrease in body water to lead to dehydration and performance detriments in sports. It doesn't matter how you became dehydrated, heat or no heat. If the water loss is there your performance will suffer.

Let's have a look at the symptoms of


Faintness an inability to stand or walk ( that's me with the dizziness and wobbly feelings)

Muscle cramps as the water to muscles is diminished

Rapid breathing;

Weak rapid pulse

Cognitive impairments as the brain shrinks in severe dehydration

Loss of consciousness

How can I determine my hydration status?

The best way to determine hydration status is by taking your weight before and after exercise to determine the total body water loss . The difference in weight is the water loss that needs to be replaced.

How should I replace fluid lost?

When we sweat we lose water and electrolytes.

90% of that is sodium chloride and it's this one that is absolutely critical to replace.

5% potassium

3% calcium

2% magnesium

If someone were to only drink water during a long intense exercise session this would not sufficiently replace sodium lost.

For a one hour exercise session you most likely do not need a sports drink and something like coconut water or plain water will be sufficient.

For long events, sodium concentration and fluid replacement really matters.

Let's talk about Pre-Hydration

Pre-Hydrating is an important concept. This can help fill the void caused by the relative hypovolemia we spoke about earlier. Where the blood vessels in the skin were dilating to dissipate heat through the skin.

It is better to pre-hydrate with electrolytes 15 minutes before exposure to heat.

It is recommended to drink 1 liter of sodium citrate(720-3500mg per liter) and 2-3% sugar solution.

And to answer my own question of thirst, here is what I took away. It is better to stay ahead of your thirst. “Don't chase your thirst, stay ahead of it.”

So hydrating during exercise is important. Sip your water during exercise as needed.

As we become dehydrated it becomes difficult to maintain our core temperature. When our core temperature gets too high we tend to start to shut down no matter what. Blood pressure drops, cardiac output suffers, heart rate increases.

To help keep your core temperature down, keep your drinks cold, the colder the better

Find a protocol that works for you, you are unique. practice your own hydration strategy. Something that works for one individual may not necessarily work for another.

And on a side note..

One of the best ways to check if you are over-hydrating is to take your weight before and after exercise, if you are heavier than you started then you drank too much.

A few symptoms of over-hydrating

Weight gain

Nausea and vomiting

Muscle weakness and fatigue

Feeling of apprehension

High blood pressure

Rapid pulse

As for me, I will be paying more attention pre-hydration with electrolytes before I set out on a ride. 

If you continue to suffer from dehydration symptoms despite all your efforts, it is probably best to get a sweat test. Dehydration is dangerous and can really ruin any experience.

I hope this helps. Feel free to leave your comments.