Welcome to Rat Race Cycles

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Rat Race Cycles is a bike shop and workshop in Nunhead, South East London.

We offer bicycle repairs and servicing as well as bike, parts and accessories sales.  We also hand build quality wheels and custom bikes.

The owner, Pete, is a Cytech 3 mechanic and a qualified CycleFit bike fitter, and is therefore able to tailor each and every aspect of the bike to you from the ground up, whatever your cycling discipline.  This helps you to find the best bike set up to suit your body and your riding style, and can help you avoid injury or pain in your hips, knees, legs, and back as well other joints including your shoulders and wrists.

Find out more about who we are, take a look at what we do, have a look at our price list, and be sure to check back here for updates on what’s going on in Nunhead, and in the wider world of cycling!

Fit Fridays 2: The Core of your Programme

I’d be willing to bet that most people who have done some sort of exercise in the past will at some point have come across the idea of ‘core strength’ or ‘core fitness’.

Core, as I’m sure you’re aware, literally means ‘the centre’, eg, core of the earth, core of an apple, etc. The very middle of something. But it also means ‘central or integral to, at the heart of’ something. Of course, the parts of our body we refer to in ‘core fitness’ aren’t actually its very centre, so therefore it must be the second meaning; core fitness lies at the heart of our training programmes, it is integral to our fitness. (Don’t you love it when training and semantics come together?)

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say ‘core’, let me explain. Your core is essentially made up of the muscles around your trunk, both the superficial ones – like your rectus abdominis, external obliques – and the deeper ones – such as the transversus abdominis (TVA), internal obliques, multifidus, as well as the muscles which make up the pelvic floor. This is your core. This is where your greatest and some of your most valuable cross training gains can be made. Continue reading

Fit Fridays 1: Start your engines…

So, here we are; nearly the end of October (it comes around fast, huh!?). For most of us now the racing season is over and the darker mornings and evenings are the harbingers of doom – or at least of off-season training. It’s time to reflect on the season just gone, take stock, and work out how far you came, as well as what you want for next season, which will come round just as fast…

Be honest with yourself: how did your season go this year? Did you get the results you wanted? Did you make the gains you were hoping for when the season got underway all those months ago? I hope so. But I suspect the honest truth is: not entirely. If you did meet those goals, I bet you’re wondering if you could have pushed just a tiny bit harder. Made those marginal gains – well, less marginal. Maybe you could have set those goals just a little higher. Maybe you could have tweaked your schedule a bit to make your training work a little harder for you.

But how? Put simply, if you’re not varying your workouts, and interspersing your time on the bike with comprehensive strength, stretch and cross-training sessions, you’re probably missing out. So many amateur athletes pour their all into their chosen sport, and neglect the rest of their bodies.

Fit Fridays with Rat Race Cycles

That’s what this new series is going to be about. In regular Friday posts, I’m going to give you hints and tips on cross-training and nutrition which will help you to push your riding to the next level, and Pete is going to drop by with some technical tips and on-the-bike ideas to push you even further.

I’m not talking about buying a bottle cage that’s 13g lighter (although we have some awesome cages in stock if you do want a new drinks holster!). I’m talking about simple exercises and corrections to add in to your off-season training to help your body work like a smoothly oiled machine when the gun goes off on next season’s race calendar.

I’m never going to be Alex Dowsett, why should I bother?

Don’t worry if you’re not a racer. Even if you just ride for fun or as part of your commute, these blog posts are for you as well. Chances are you ride your bike – rather than, say, take the tube – at least in part to get fit and maintain that gorgeous physique (yeah, I’m looking at you). These strategies and exercises will help you get more fitness gains from your riding. It will help you up your calorie burn, shred some fat and – ultimately – make you look better. 6 pack anyone?

If you’re riding for fitness, cross training can help you leapfrog over any plateaus. The body gets used to training – you have to mix it up to keep things moving. It’s no good being able to touch your toes or do the splits if you can’t climb a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. That’s an extreme example, but it stands. Overall fitness comes from overall training. Makes sense really when you think about it like that.

Says who!?

So we’ve established why you should be reading this, but why should I be writing this? Well, put simply, I’m a massive geek. I’m fascinated by fitness and physiology, as well as food and nutrition. I also have a level 2 qualification in Group Exercise instruction and a level 3 specialism in Ante- and Post-natal Exercise, so all the exercises I give you here will be safe, although that’s not to say that you don’t need to think carefully about your own limitations before attempting anything.

On top of this, we’ll be drawing on Pete’s biology and physiology degrees, as well as his qualification in Cyclefit and years of riding experience. Plus, we watch a lot of cycling on TV, so, you know, we’re practically Dave Brailsford by osmosis.

So, join us every Friday for killer exercises, tips on training techniques, and a weekly idea for healthy filling snacks and meals to help fuel your workout. And we won’t just be telling you what to do, we’ll be telling you why you should be doing it, too. I’ll also be sure to make clear any contraindications for any exercises, so you can avoid any which might not be right for you. Above all, though, listen to your body. You know it best.

We’ll kick it all off next Friday with a post about the importance of a good core strength workout, and we’ll throw in a few planks while we are it (ah, the plank – an oldie but a goody), plus we’ll include a favourite recipe for a tempting low-calorie meal to work on your fitness from the inside. See you then, I hope.

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Le Cure de France

So, I know we all get a bit of charity fatigue now and again, but if you haven’t reached an icy saturation point in the bucket of people doing good things, you really should check these guys out.

This is not just people doing something good, this is people doing something extraordinary, for a fantastic cause: 29 guys, 4 epic, iconic* climbs, 1 week, and the Royal Marsden Hospital.

We are thoroughly impressed, and if you can afford a couple of quid for this worthy cause, you might make their climbs just a tiny bit easier…

…but probably not.

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* in our opinion, iconic is an overused word.  However, in this case it’s utterly deserved.  I mean, come on: Galibier, Mt Ventoux, Col d’Izoard, Alpe d’Huez.  Fair?  Yes.

A (Belleville) Rendezvous on Nunhead Green

If you’re local to us, you can’t fail to have noticed the upgrade work they’re doing to Nunhead Green. The good news is that the work is very nearly finished, and we’re thrilled to announce that this coming Friday evening (12th Sept), Rat Race Cycles will be part of the official opening event.

There’s going to be all sorts going on around the Green, but the headline is a free open-air showing of the excellent animated cycling film “Les Triplettes de Belleville” (aka Belleville Rendezvous) – one of our absolute favourites – which will be powered by pedal power (thanks to Electric Pedals). Even more exciting, though, is that it will be accompanied by a live score from the Cabinet Of Living Cinema! They are musicians, singers and foley artists (sound effects) and they perform live alongside the film, making each screening 100% original and unique.

Because of the way Electric Pedals works, we need plenty of volunteers to pedal away at whatever pace they find comfortable, for however long they like – from a couple of minutes to the entire duration of the movie!

We’ve got a temporary alcohol licence for the Green so there will be refreshments of all kinds, with a bar run by the lovely guys at one of our favourite locals the Old Nun’s Head, and possibly even pedal-powered popcorn, and self-churned ice cream from the awesome Ice Cream Tandem.

Plus, Rat Race Cycles are holding a brief “Dr. Bike” assessment workshop on the Green from 7-7.45; tickets for that are available through Eventbrite for £5 (plus a nominal booking fee).

The official opening of the Green, ribbon-cutting and start of the event will be at 7.45pm. The film showing is free and un-ticketed – just turn up! (and maybe be prepared to pedal a bit). You also check out the event on Facebook.

We’d love to see you there!

l’Étape du Tour 2014

I’m writing this not necessarily to make interesting reading for anyone else, but to keep a record of my thoughts and experiences of what turned out to be quite an adventure.

As I usually do for a big ride, I checked the weather forecast regularly on the days leading up to it. Often I find it changes over time and although a week before the event the forecast might be predicting a spell of rubbish weather, it improves – or moves – as the ride approaches. This time, though, the forecast stayed unchanged: great weather during the week, a stormy Saturday and a REALLY stormy Sunday.

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