The Two Sides of Pro Cycling with Phil Gaimon

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This episode, the good, the bad and the downright ugly sides of pro cycling.

“It’s more of a thing that, who could put up with this job, than who could do this job.”

— Phil Gaimon, recently retired pro cyclist and author of new book “Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While)

The Feature

Is being a pro cyclist all it´s cracked up to be? Does riding your bike for a living, being paid to travel, being handed top of the line kit, or even just being recognised as a pro sound like a dream job to you? It doesn’t sound like a job to many people, but if you think long and hard about it, cycling isn´t very different to the jobs we all do. Sure, there are the 12k bikes, the boxes of kit at the start of the season, the luxury team buses, masseurs, soigneurs… The list goes on. At the end of it all though, for the majority of pros, it´s a way to make ends meet, and more often than not it´s difficult to see what the next season will bring. Today we look at both sides of being a pro cyclist with ex-pro Phil Gaimon.

 

Resources

The Transcript

 

SPC Indent

 

Damian: This is the Semi-Pro Cycling Podcast, I’m Damian Ruse.

 

Phil: It’s not aaa, it’s not a super valuable job for the team, a lot of guys could do it. It’s more of a thing that, who could put up with this job, than who could do this job.

 

Damian: “It’s more of a thing that, who could put up with this job, than who could do this job.” This is ex-pro Phil Gaimon talking about his time riding in the World Tour for Cannondale – doesn’t make pro cycling sound like the dream job we think it is, does it?

 

I certainly never think about pro cycling as a job, but then again, I’ve never been a pro cyclist. If you think hard about it, it would be no surprise that pro cycling is no different to any job out there. I mean that behind the glamour – there is a not so glamorous side. Maybe you already knew this, maybe you’ve experienced it first hand, or maybe you’ve kind of guessed after watching the riders continue through the snow at the 2013 Milan San Remo or stage five of the 2015 Tour of Oman with its strong winds, sandstorms and temperatures of over 40°C.

 

Cycling can be just as shitty as any other high-profile profession, where you get taken advantage of for money, for time and sometimes your ambition — but hey if you want to live the pro cycling dream, you’ve gotta take the good with the bad. And that’s what today’s show is about – a look at both sides of pro cycling with ex-pro Phil Gaimon.

 

Phil retired in 2016 after reaching World Tour level – twice, and recently released a book about his time as a pro. Written as a role player rather than a champion, it’s his story and it’s his writing at its best and after reading the book, entitled, Draft Animals – Living the Pro Dream (Once in awhile) I thought it would be fun get Phil’s insight on both sides of life as a pro. So I got him on the phone… Phil Phone…and gave him my top 5 of reasons to go pro and my top 5 reasons not to go pro, to see if he concurs.

 

Warning: We do go off topic a little talking about the odd story when things went right, and when things went wrong.

 

SPC Sting

 

Interview – “The top 5 reasons to go pro…”

 

SPC Indent (fade in under Phil, until I finish my next VO)

 

Damian: Is the attention really not worth it? Death threats are just the tip of the iceberg. What happens on the other side of pro cycling and how did Phil deal with it? That’s in the next episode of the Semi-Pro Cycling Podcast.

 

The Radar Sting

 

Radar – Pro 

 

Damian: It’s time for the Radar. The segment of the show where I talk about something that has popped up on my radar – whether it’s a product, study or performance tip…and this week we are looking at a meta-analysis called The Influence of Drinking Fluid on Endurance Cycling Performance.

 

It’s relevant if you’re riding, training or racing under 60 minutes because this meta-analysis concluded that fluid intake doesn’t improve performance and may actually decrease it. It also concluded that if you’re riding 1-2 hours drinking fluid increases improvement by 2% and riding for 2-4 hours it’s a 3% performance gain.

 

The objectives of this meta-analysis were to:

 

(1) Determine the magnitude of the effect of drinking fluid on performance during cycling exercise tasks of various durations, compared with no drinking

 

(2) examine the relationship between rates of fluid intake and Endurance Cycling Performance; and

 

(3) establish fluid intake recommendations based on the observations between rates of fluid intake and Endurance Cycling Performance.

 

The results of the studies after converting the performance outcomes into a similar metric so they could identify the impact of drinking fluid on Endurance Cycling Performance, breaks down like this:

 

And I want to make a note there that there was a limited number of research manuscripts, nine to be exact. Not a lot to draw results from, but hey, it’s all we have so what did they say exactly?

 

If you’re riding less than 1 hour at 80% V02max (~FTP) this could be a CX race or TT, power output was reduced by −2.5 ± 0.8% when fluid was consumed. Concluding that fluid intake may not be required.

 

In contrast, cycling greater than 1 hour to less or equal than 2 hours and greater than 2 hours at  a moderate-intensity of 60-75% of V02max (Tempo/Sweet Spot), Endurance Cycling Performance improved by 2.1 ± 1.5% and 3.2 ± 1.2%, respectively, with fluid ingestion compared with no fluid intake.

 

The recommendations for fluid intake are as follows:

 

A rate of fluid consumption of between 0.15 and 0.34 mL/kg body mass/min during high-intensity 1 h cycling exercise is associated with reductions in Endurance Cycling Performance. So if you are going to drink in a CX race or TT – maybe it’s just to wet your whistle, or get rid of you dry mouth because limiting the fluid may work out better for you.

 

When cycling greater than 1 hour to less or equal than 2 hour, the recommendation is 0.15 – 0.20 ml/kg/min. As an example a 60kg athlete would be:

 

  • 0.15 – 0.20 ml x 60 kg x 60 minutes
  • = 540 – 720 ml fluid (total) for each hour so a max of 1080 – 1440 ml fluid (total) for 2 hours.

 

Anything beyond 2 hours the recommendation is a little les fluid or surprisingly, drinking to thirst. If you are going to use a prescribed fluid intake, use 0.14 – 0.27 ml/kg/min. An example fluid intake of our 60kg cyclist, riding for 3 hours would be:

  • 0.14 – 0.27 ml x 60 kg x 180 min
  • = 1512 – 2916 ml fluid (total) or 504-972 ml per hour

 

These recommendations actually follow the 1 bidon per hour rule that has been around forever. I use race bidons, 500mls in size as my reference for what 1 bidon is so it’s nice to see some science backing this up.

 

SPC End

 

In the next episode of Semi-Pro Cycling Podcast, when you’re a pro cyclist, in a business that can be ruthless. How do you stop yourself from being so bitter at the shitty things that happen to you?

 

Phil Part 2 Tease – “You know actually, could go through that book..” 

 

Damian: That and more coming up in the next show.

 

If you are new to Semi-Pro Cycling, check out the back catalogue of shows on all aspects of performance at semiprocycling.com or sign up for the Weekly Workout Stack – The guide that shows you how to structure your training week and use your training time more effectively, and I’ll also send you a best of our episodes straight to your inbox.

 

Alright, well, I’ll be back in 2 weeks. Thanks for listening.

 

The Facts

Presenter/Producer: Damian Ruse

Assistant Producer: Ciarán Mac Parland

Sound Engineer: Satyr Productions

 

 

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