TW Relay Team: Dominique's Bike Blog #2

Triathletesworld.co.uk Editorial Assistant Dominique Brady heads to Manchester Velodrome for an elite cycling experience


by Dominique Brady
Ian Stannard
Dominique pits herself against GB cyclist and Team Sky rider Ian Stannard

When an email pinged into my inbox from Gatorade, inviting me to train with elite GB cyclists at the Manchester Velodrome and do a (gross-sounding) 'sweat test', it took seconds for me to say yes.

And so last Monday evening I left London for a much sunnier Manchester. After a good night's kip at a plush hotel, I was up early and full of enthusiasm for my velodrome challenge. How hard could it be?

The answer was: very.

As soon as we arrived we could see some of the GB cycling squad belting around the track, defying gravity by clinging to a wooden wall at 42.5 degrees. As a relatively inexperienced cyclist and accident-prone individual, the sight of the confident pros made me feel like a candidate on much missed Channel 4 show 'Faking It'.

A short while later, freshly attired in a branded jersey and suitably hydrated, I was nervously clicking my way across the pit of the track towards my brakeless (gulp) fixed-gear bike.

Joining me on the mission were a handful of journalists along with Commonwealth-winning race walker Jo Jackson and GB sprinter Simeon Williamson. After clipping in and taking a few deep breaths we were off, practically flying on the weightless frame over the flat part of the track. Then we stopped for a quick debrief on how to climb: pedal very fast when you first hit the steep slope; keep your arms relaxed; don't steer and most importantly - don't panic.  

After a few tentative laps, I tried to climb the steep sides and it's fair to say I didn't quite have the knack. I would start pedalling quicker, gain momentum and then - the fatal mistake - glance downwards, suddenly slow and then accelerate as I crashed back to the flat track.

A small part of me wants to book another session at the velodrome to master this exhilarating art, but for the most part I'm happy to watch the British cycling team chase glory from the comfort of my sofa, with a new appreciation of the speed and courage it takes.    

Then it was time for my sweat test conducted by scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Every elite athlete will go through this process and now it was time for this amateur's turn. The science behind the test is to discover how much water, minerals and electrolytes you lose when you train, so you can top up levels just the right amount to race at your best.

On an elite level it can mean the difference between victory and defeat. British Cycling and Team Sky nutritionist Nigel Mitchell explained to us that Tour de France cyclists require up to 10 litres of fluid a day plus a mean daily nutrtitional intake of 6,750 kcal. No wonder they need expert advice to get the balance right.

We were weighed before the test, asked to give a urine sample and had plaster-like strips attached to our forehead and arms. Then we had a 45 minute session on the Wattbike, cycling consistently hard, so that sweat beads popped up on our arms and trickled down our foreheads. Just one row ahead of me I could see Team GB and Team Sky cyclists Ian Stannard and Alex Dowsett powering furiously away. If that isn't peer pressure to go faster, I don't know what is.

Staggering off the bike Bridget Jones-style, I had a few minutes to wipe the sweat from my brow and take a quick isotonic slug before being able to interview Ian, Alex and Nigel and pose for the obligatory photoshoot (above).

After my day at the velodrome, I'm under no illusion that I'm about to be talent spotted for the GB Development Squad, but I am hugely grateful for such a unique opportunity. Seeing the hard work and camaraderie that go into Team Sky has made me more determined than ever that the TW Relay Team shall be a success. And I've got no excuse not to nail my nutrition strategy now I've got my hard-earned sweat test results.


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triathlon, TW Relay Team, Hyde Park Triathlon, racing, training, Dominique, cycling
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