Cycling - Si Beales braves the snow
PUBLISHED: 09:43 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 February 2013
Si Beales doesn't let a few snowflakes get in his way as he picks up a few tips on New Year fitness while cycling from Brighton to Eastbourne (at least, that was the plan)
Talk about mad dogs and Englishmen. My friend Rob Callow and I certainly got a few funny looks as we cycled along the Brighton seafront one snowy afternoon recently. Our original plan was to cycle from Brighton to Eastbourne, but it soon became apparent that we would have to go with the flow (or should I say drift) and see what the weather had in store for us.
I was keen to get at least a short ride in as I wanted to grab some fitness tips from Rob, who runs his own personal training business HAVIT. Rob is one of those guys who will regularly run a marathon and thinks nothing of taking on the Three Peaks challenge. Fortunately hes also pretty approachable and offers a wealth of knowledge on cycling (as well as general) fitness.
We decided to start at Hove Lagoon and head along the clearly marked cycle path towards Brighton Pier. Casual users may not realise it, but this route actually forms part of National Route 2, which will eventually link St Austell in Cornwall with Dover in Kent. However before we set off Rob insisted that we did a bit of a warm up particularly given the cold conditions. Warming up and down should be an integral part of any reasonable ride as it helps aid fitness and prevents injury and post cycle strains. We started with a few squats and heel kicks before running on the spot and then a few high knees for two minutes. I must admit I was feeling pretty tired and we hadnt cycled a yard.
As the cycle path was virtually traffic free, Rob decided it would be a good idea if we did some interval training. I wasnt quite so sure but thought I would show willing. Interval training consists of bursts of pedalling for 30 seconds as fast as possible with a soft cycle for one minute to recover. I managed ten minutes before deciding that enough was enough. Rob also suggested something called Fartlek training to break up the ride if the route is flat this involves pedalling at different speeds with no pattern except to alternate your speed.
By this time, we had got as far as Brighton Marina and the snow was really starting to come down. We decided to keep going to Rottingdean along the undercliffs and then call it a day. Its important particularly when the weather is cold to know your limits and not push yourself too hard.
The last thing you want is to be exhausted and cold, miles from home. So we put on a good sprint and were soon enjoying a cup of tea in one of Rottingdeans cosy cafs. Revived and fortified we retraced our wheel tracks to Brighton, just in time for the snow to start coming down in earnest. Despite this Rob insisted on a warm down, particularly focusing on stretching our leg muscles.
Whatever the weather, this coastal path is a really excellent route for cyclists of all abilities. You can reach Newhaven before heading inland, over the South Downs, and on to Eastbourne or even Hastings. Heading the other way, you can easily reach Worthing or continue to Arundel.
So why not get out and enjoy a bracing bike ride this winter. As long as youre well dressed and well prepared, youll definitely feel the benefits.
Details of Route 2 are available at www.sustrans.org.uk and you can find more training tips at