Tim's Blog, OK, why Secret Training
Those of us who were lucky enough (I was trying not to say old) to come through the "traditional" cycling club system would have mentors, coaches and "old boys" to coach them how to train, race and look after themselves in and around competitions.
I was lucky enough to have started my sport at the historic Ribble Valley Cycle Racing Club where coaches and mentors like John and Doreen Mallinson, Mike Jones and the guy who wrote the book (King of Sports) Peter Ward would run formal and informal coaching courses and club nights. In addition to leading rides over Buttertubs pass and the likes in the Yorkshire Dales, they organised gruelling track sessions at the old Kirkby Stadium and winter gym sessions.
Tips and advice from these guys would ensure that (mostly) we would not have to learn the hard way, that when it comes to racing there won't be sufficient pins for your number (or any at all if racing in Belgium), the bathrooms are likely to run out of toilet paper and there probably won't be showers at the Village Hall head quarters.
For the modern newcomer into cycling, anti-chafing or chamois cream can be a "secret" that is only discovered after an uncomfortable experience that can needlessly reduce cycling enjoyment and sometimes develop into something more serious. We have seen riders start multi day challenge rides or sportives without using anti-chafing cream until day three when they appear with some hastily sourced nappy cream or similar, oozing out of the seams of their shorts. By this time of course it is usually too late and they often end up going home early.
Even when you see the guys that are organised and know about the possibility of a no-shower clean up after the races, vast quantities of baby wipes seem to be the chosen method - better than nothing but not really the best tool for the job. When I started racing the "old boys" would have sourced some kind of plant sprayer and made a concoction of Eau de Cologne, soap and water that would efficiently clean off embrocation, sweat and road grime. This practice seems to have been forgotten as the professional riders finish races and climb aboard their 5 star team buses equipped with showers and washing machines. Surely it would be possible to revisit this system, design a spray specifically for this purpose with modern micro fibre cloths thus combining best practice with modern technology for a really practical solution.
The strategy of learning from the past and applying modern technology to create effective practical solutions to race day personal care is something we have tried to do across the Secret Training Race Informed Products (STRIP) range. We hope you like it!
NB. If you can obtain a copy of the King of Sports by Peter Ward it is an interesting read and contains plenty of practical advice that is still relevant today. It was great to meet up again recently at his 80th birthday party organised by the Ribble Valley CRC.