Coach Dan Henchy from the UK shares his expertise on fitness, diet and posture with Coimbatore’s cyclists

When you’re on a bicycle, you tend to observe the world around you; the trees, village mud roads…you notice how beautiful they are, says Chakravarthy Birur, a member of Biker’s Terrain, a team of cycling enthusiasts in the city. “Which is why I mostly take roads through villages when I cycle,” he adds. Biker’s Terrain is coordinating a cycling camp organised by Srinath R. Rajam, Director, T.V. Sundram Iyengar & Sons Ltd. Srinath owns the ‘Mad Rascals’ cycling team and is the sponsor for 15 upcoming junior cyclists from Tamil Nadu. The four-day camp, according to Srinath, aims to “share best practices about cycling, training, diet, nutrition and equipment management” with cycling enthusiasts in the city. Cycling Coach Dan Henchy from the UK, who is among the best in the business, has been invited to share his expertise with the cyclists. Dan is part of PBscience, a company that offers expert cycling coaching.

Day-one of the camp starts off with a 23 km ride along the Kalapatti Road. Some 20 cyclists from in and around the city, warm up, as they ride with Dan for the first time. The team then gathers at Jenny’s for a question and answer session. “The cycle is a wonderful machine,” begins Dan. It is used for several purposes. “Cycling has a lot of health benefits. Some use it to stay fit and active. For some people, cycling is a hobby. They like going on rides on weekends with friends. Each of you has your own view about it. It can be a sport, a career.” Cycling calls for hard work. “The more time you spend with your bike, the better.” Dan addresses questions on fitness, diet and posture. “My legs tend to get numb after a long ride; how does one recover after a ride?” asks a cyclist. Apart from stretches, there are other things a cyclist should do to make sure his legs don’t suffer after a long ride, explains Dan.

The right diet

“If you’re on a 90-minute or two-hour ride, make sure you have three to four gulps of something with a little bit of sugar in it every 15 minutes. For every half hour, munch on something,” he advises. Most importantly, “prepare your body for the pain.” About breathing techniques, Dan advises cyclists to breathe from the abdomen. “Take deep breaths to fill your lungs. Some of the best cyclists try to match their breathing to their pedalling. This helps to keep your mind on your breathing. It also distracts you from the pain in your legs.”

A cyclist himself, Srinath also shares his expertise on nutrition and fitness for cyclists. He draws up a list of things to eat and drink before and after a three-hour ride. “Have a pre-ride shake 45 minutes before you start,” he says. Slow-release carbs are best before a ride. “You can have oats with whey or milk.”

According to Chakravarthy, elite amateur riders from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will participate on day two of the camp. They will participate in a 130 km ride on the Coimbatore – Palladam – Udumalpet road, 24 km of which, they will race against a set time. The participants will also ride to Ooty via Kotagiri. The camp will end with a 40-km race between four teams on the Annur-Mettupalyam Road.