I.B.S, Cycling, and The FODMAP discovery.

Well I might as well talk about it, the reason why I cycle solo most of the time. The reason I can’t commit at a club level or even socially sometimes. I suffer from IBS. I’m not talking a grumbly tummy or feeling a little bloated. I’m talking not able to leave the house until you are ready, exhausted, dehydrated, sore, and exasperated IBS. With a high stress full time job, a house renovation, and most importantly family, any loss of energy is a killer. I had to find a solution.

It’s something I have approached my GP about before but with no luck, just being told that it’s something I’ll have to live with. At that point you kind of trust the professional and soldier on. A few years later I’ve moved house and reregistered with another surgery and mentioned it again to my new GP. He responded “have you tried the FODMAP diet?” I looked at him thinking what is he talking about? After a quick conversation I had a basic understanding of what was happening inside me and how it could more than likely be tied to things I was eating.

Essentially my bowels were being turned into a fermentation tank. And I was adding fuel to the fire every time I took a bite or sip of something. So a quick explanation of what FODMAPs are, they are fermentable short chain carbohydrates that don’t digest properly in the small intenstine. They then pass into the large intestine causing the bacteria in there to go wild, here they ferment causing gas release. This causes excess gas (Farting, I had this in spades) and bloating, the bloating causes distress to the bowel wall, distress to the bowel wall causes rushing of water to the bowel to increase bowel movements and loosen your stools (now that’s familiar). Bloating also causes a full abdomen and pressure on stomach, and for someone with a loose oesophageal sphincter (love to use that word ha ha) that means acid reflux.

So that’s a quick explanation of my IBS symptoms and causes. How does the FODMAP diet help this? Simple really it restricts the amount of FODMAPS that you eat and subsequently reduces and controls the symptoms of IBS. Most people who go onto a low FODMAP diet see an improvement in symptoms within two weeks. The diet works in two phases. Phase one is the restriction, where you cut to a very low FODMAP diet for about 8 weeks to try to eliminate the processes going on in your large intestine and allow your bowel to calm and heal. To regain some form of normal function. Phase two is to slowly reintroduce certain FODMAP food to see which are effecting you, from this you can figure out how restrictive you have to be with your diet to prevent symptoms resurfacing. For a list of high and low FODMAP foods CLICK HERE.

That’s a kind of basic overview of it, and it may not be perfect but it’s where my knowledge of it all is at the moment. And that will grow.

How has it worked for me? Without trying to be a over dramatic, it’s been life changing. I can leave for work on time, my energy levels are through the roof, my moods are better, my cycling strength is up, and I’m not waking up everyday feeling like I have a hangover because I’m dehydrated. Oh and I’m not crapping five or so times a day (sorry, but for someone who’s lived with that for the last ten years it feels cathartic).

It’s not been without its troubles this diet though. It’s been expensive, and hard work. I’m finding I’m having to cook all the time. Now that’s not all a bad thing, I can cook and enjoy it, but it’s time consuming. Trying to fit in around a full time job and being a parent is hard. Plus getting meals ready for taking to work is hard. We have had to change most of our cupboard stock, and my recipe book is a bit limited at the moment, but that will grow and costs are coming down. It’s early days.

One place I’m not finding a lot of help with though is sports nutrition. Most will be high in FODMAPS. I’ve browsed a little on the internet but there’s no definitive low FODMAP sports nutrition, it’s a case of putting together your own.

I’m going to further research, record and start to put together my own list of FODMAP friendly nutrition. Hopefully leading me to build a section on this site for pre, during, and post exercise recipes and foods that I have success with. As I hope it will give the same results for other FODMAPpers.

Maybe, just maybe, I might be able to get my symptoms under control to a point that enables me to join a club and commit to riding with others more frequently. I’m sure it’s possible.

If you got this far, thanks for reading it means a lot . If you have IBS then try the FODMAP diet. If you have any FODMAP nutrition tips then send them here.

BC

Road Tubeless – first impressions

First ride out today without any inner tubes. The scourge of the road rider, the puncture, should now be a thing of the past. Well within reason, nothing’s going to stop a double pinch flat or a shard of glass making an inch long slash in the tyre unless you run solid tyres. Maybe I should look into those Tannus tyres if I want that level of puncture resistance.

Anyway what setup am I running? I’ve gone for the leaders (possibly the inventors as well?) of tubeless bicycle tyre technology Hutchinson. There’s no other manufacturer with as complete a range as them, and having been impressed with their normal road tyres last year it was a no brainer. The tyre model I’ve chosen (with a little advice) is the Fusion 5 All Season Tubeless with the 11Storm compound. I’ve matched these with Mavic’s new open pro UST tubeless rims. Again a top product for going tubeless with specifically design to do so.

Now whilst both of these are great products there was a slight bit of incompatibility. Well I say that but it was more of them just being a complete bastard to fit due to the rim strip design. Realistically you should use the rim strips that are designed to work with the rims, I used the Hutchinson universal ones meaning I had to adapt them slightly.

The above is how the finished article should look with the Hutchinson rim strip fitted. It’s best to install the valve and work from there as it gives you a fixed point to start stretching the rim strip from. This makes it slim enough to pop under the bead. The only issue with that is that you end up with a small amount that you are unable to stretch thin enough when you get round to the valve. I trimmed about 1mm from the side of the tape from each rim strip about 30cm long directly opposite the valve. This gave just the right width to be able to seat under the bead. Now this is completely against any fitting instructions but when you are mixing and matching different manufacturers the sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

The next issue you may come across with tubeless tyres is actually getting them on the rims. My fingers still hurt two days later. They are tight, in the words of James Brown ‘SURGICAL TIGHT!’. But again this is down to mix and matching manufacturers. There is no gold standard for rim or tyre design yet. Using the Hutchinson universal strips you effectively change the rims ETRTO, and tubeless tyres have a very tight bead to ensure the can’t pop off the rim.

I ended up having to use a zip tie to hold the tyre in place whilst I worked the rest on with a plastic tyre lever. Yes this was difficult but I know I’d rather have a tighter fitting set of tubeless tyres over a questionably easy fit.

When the tyres were on they both blew up easily without the need for a high capacity pump or compressor. The front even sealed for a week before I got round to fitting the rear, and that was without sealant! Best time to add the sealant is after you have inflated and seated the tyre. Simply unscrew and remove valve core and pump in. I used Hutchinson protect air max sealant, it the job perfectly.

So how were they out on the road?

Great, in a word. Maybe it’s because I’ve gone from narrow, heavier rims with tired low thread count tyres and inner tubes to latest tech wide alloy rims and tubeless tyres. They immediately felt like they accelerated faster, held speed easier, were more comfortable (lower tyre pressures as only running 85psi compared to my normal 95/100psi), and with improved handling.

The tyre was still the same section as before at 25c, but due to the increased rim width it results in a stouter profile reducing the tyres ability to roll, meaning more accurate handling and increase feeling of confidence. As far as the ability to hold speed and accelerate faster that has to do with both rim weight and tyre pressure. Less pressure results in lighter impact and therefore bumps and rough roads slow you down less. It’s like riding on glass! So combine less impact resistance with a lighter rim and you are there.

Admittedly this was only a 20 odd mile test ride but I’ve immediately noticed a difference, the charge is feeling a hell of a lot more spritely. Even to the point I feel I could do with a larger chainring…… let’s see how these tyres last then and hold up against winter roads.

Happy bottom bum butter

Well there’s a way to get noticed! What a name. It’s one of cyclings better attempts at a bit of marketing fun mainly because it’s actually attached to a pretty good product.

Happy bottom bum butter is an all natural chamois cream manufactured by a guy called Charlie the Bike Monger here in Dorset. It’s vegan so contains zero animal products, is made from all natural products, has and awesome smell (could substitute it for vicks vaporub!), and also has pain relieving, antibacterial, and healing properties.

I’ve been using this since the start of the year for my turbo trainer sessions. As you know turbo trainer sessions can be super uncomfortable, the bike does not move naturally with your body, you don’t get out of the saddle, you just grind away. I find I suffer with more soreness in an hour on the turbo than I would out on the road.

Bum butter is different from most chamois creams that I’ve used before in the sense that it’s quite light. Similar to a coconut oil product. It melts into your hand so is pretty easy to apply, so no roughing up patches of hair with thick cream! I apply it directly to me then clean my hands on the chamois pad so as to not waste anything. I apply a generous amount but it does go a long way so the tub should last pretty well.

So how’s my undercarriage? Very good! Whilst I still have a mild tenderness you are bound to get from daily saddle work, I don’t have any chafing, sores, or hair root issues. This is unheard of for me as I’m a typically hairy arsed bloke. After repeated prolonged cycling sessions I’m normally tending to hair root issues with hydrocortisone!

I rate this product, in fact it’s going to replace the Chapeau! product I use currently. Buy some, you won’t be sorry.

BC

1x revolution

Roads newest fad is to remove functionality from your bike (ok that’s a bit harsh), and the first to go for it on a professional level are 3T with their Strada model. Take a look below, you can’t deny that’s it’s (as Prince put it) a sexy mother fucker.

Now I appreciate that this is not news, this info has been knocking about for a couple of months now but I wanted to look at the potential whys and wherefores of going 1x. There are pros obviously, I’ve been running it for years on a mtb, just how are they good for top flight road work?

To start with, what is 1x? This essentially means having a bicycle drivetrain that has a single front chainring. So what? That’s nothing new, my kid has that on their cheap Halfords 20″ wheeled bike I hear you say. I completely agree, but what’s new here is the inclusion into the pro peloton.

Let’s look at the Strada then. On paper what do people want from a road bike? Fast, comfortable, safe, hassle free (I go with that order of priority as well). All things that make a bike confidence inspiring. Whilst I haven’t tried this bike (I’d love to btw 3T if you want to send me one!) it’s quite easy to see that it’s got those in spades. The stiff yet compliant aero frame, wide rims, larger tyres, and disc brakes. Lots to make you feel like a superhero, but maybe not to the liking of the purists who want 23c tyres and delta brakes!

This bike is to be raced by Aqua Blue Sport (UCI level team but not Grand Tour) professionally, a bit of a stand out event as the first team to do so. My thinking of this is that it’s a surefire test bed for The big teams, eyes will be on it to see if the wide range cassette cuts the mustard.

Now this is where the science comes in. The Strada is available as a frameset only and most builds I’ve seen have used an 11t to 40t range 11 speed cassette. Married to a chainring between 40t and 48t, supposedly giving enough range. This, according to research, is down to the spacing of the cassette with the first four gears being wider spaced to give easier climbing and the final seven being closer to give better cadence control on the flatter stuff. Now this may be the case but it will take some fettling. You may find yourself playing around with cassettes and chainrings to find a happy medium that works for your fitness level and local terrain. Something that a pro team with access to a big parts bin will be fine with, but maybe not for the weekend warrior?

Weight. Everyone loves to save a few grams here and there. Ditching your front mech, second chainring, cables, shifter mechanism, frame mounts, and reducing front chainring size does that quite well. But it’s not that simple, cassette size jumps up and adds weight, the extended range on the cassette requires a long cage mech, 1x drivetrain needs a mech with a clutch and narrow wide chainring, all little things that add weight back on. But overall there will be a weight saving that gives teams the ability to chuck ballast on where they need to to get the weight right for regs.

One of the messiest areas on the bike for aero is the bottom bracket. Because it’s essentially the widest solid lump of the bike, so removing any clutter around there will be a benefit. No mech or additional chainring matched to a fancier design of crankset with bring some nice aero gains. Probably not enough for anyone to notice on their local club ride but for GT riders any watt saving over a distance is music to their ears. So maybe a 1x setup could be GT worthy?

It will be interesting to see how this performs, I personally believe that it will limit performance for the pros as flexibility will be reduced. Currently they can save watts by fine tuning their gear ratios, but you never know the weight savings/distribution and aero improvements may outweigh that. As for the social rider I think going single ring is great, increased reliability, reduction in fuss, and weight saved with less expense. But that’s coming from someone who knocks out most of his miles on a singlespeed!

As far as modifying your current road bike to a 1x setup to get the benefits, I’m not entirely sure. Yes people have been using this in hillclimbing for years by removing anything and everything they aren’t using to remove as much weight as possible but unless your bike is specifically designed for it I don’t think there is much to gain.

I think 1x gearing on road bikes will be a big thing in the future but it will take some fettling first. With 12 speed cassettes, barrow wide chainrings, and clutch controlled mechs now out it will help to ensure it all works reliably. Let’s see how they get on at the races though eh!

BC

Fit To Ride Poole

A hidden gem of road bike knowledge in Bournemouth. Im slightly embarrassed that I have forgotten to include Neil and his services in the directory. But they are in there now!

Neil helped me get settled on my first real road bike, my original cycle to work special Ribble R872, 5 years ago. He first helped me order the bike by doing a few measurements and flexibility tests, this helped with ordering the bike with correct bar width, stem length, and crank length. Then when bike was delivered built and fitted it to me based on my levels or fitness and flexibility.

Neil is super knowledgeable and has a great fitting studio located in Holton Heath in Poole. He will get your positioning right as well as offering great advice on top end product. He stocks Scapin, Olympia, and Merida Bikes with accessories and gear from Kask, BBB, Hutchinson, Knog, and Santini.

Fit To Ride’s contact details:

Fit To Ride – click here for website

Unit 41

Glenmore Business Park

Blackhill Road

Holton Heath

Poole

Dorset

BH16 6LS

01202 922500

Going tubeless….

After the unfortunate splitting of my rear tyre on the charge winter bike last week I was in the hunt for some new tyres. The new Mavic Open Pro rims I’ve just had built on to the bike are UST tubeless compatible, and going tubeless was the plan. It’s now happened just a little bit faster though……

On my table here we have a full Hutchinson tubeless setup. Rim strips, valves, sealant, and two Fusion5 All Season tyres. The perfect winter tyre setup. No more tubes!

Looking to get them mounted up over the few days. Obviously I’ll be letting you know how they go……

BC

halo clickster freewheel

The winter bike was feeling a little worn in the drivetrain area so replaced and upgraded it all. My choice when replacing the freewheel was the Halo Clickster.

There are a lot of freewheels on the market. The trials bike crew love them, the singlespeed crew love them, and they have been a staple of the BMX world since inception. So what was me to the Clickster?

First let’s go by my requirements. Singlespeed Road bike that gets stick throughout the winter, wanted to run a setup as light as possible, want to run a road chainring up front.

Freewheels generally only come in two chain widths, 3/32″ or 1/8″. 3/32″ is 8 speed chain width, 1/8″ is singlespeed chain width. The Clickster is made with 3/32″ teeth meaning you have access to some lighter chains, this was one of the main selling points. Another reason being that fitting an 8 speed chain would work well with a narrow ride chainring, just in case of any tension issues out on the road.

The Clickster has a set of six pawls, and 72 pick up points resulting in a great sound and instant engagement. You can really notice both on the road, with a standard single pawl freewheel with low pickups there’s a noticeable lag akin to a loose chain feeling, with the Clickster the power is down straight away. The only potential issue I felt was that all those pawls and pickups do cause extra drag so on a road bike not always perfect, but hey you shouldn’t be freewheeling anyway!

Final thing to say about the Clickster is it looks hard as fuck. It’s black oxide finish, so will take some wear before it rusts, and the logos are cool. Always something to consider!

I’ve yet to see the longevity as have only been running for about a month now, but it’s bedding in nicely and the initial drag is reducing.

I like it! If you need a freewheel and don’t want to spend a shed load, yeah I’d say a Clickster.

BC