1st August 2021
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 278: Genetically redundant at 40: The Midlife Cyclist with Phil Cavell
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUEST: Phil Cavell
TOPICS: Talking with Cyclefit’s Phil Cavell, author of “The Midlife Cyclist.”
“The Midlife Cyclist,” by Phil Cavell.
Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 278 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday, 1st August 2021.
David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to today’s episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Today’s show is a chat with Cyclefit’s co-founder Phil Cavell. We talk at length about his new and rather excellent book, the Midlife Cyclist. What’s it about? Grow old. Get fast. Don’t die, says a snappy line on the back cover. Now, I’m definitely midlife — the book defines that as plus-40 by the way — but I’m by no means an athlete so the book’s not aimed directly at me but I still discovered loads, including why pedalling circles – that’s often known by the French word souplesse — is cycling’s version of the flat earth theory. Here’s our chat.
Carlton Reid 2:15
I have got two pages of questions to ask you. Normally I don’t I kind of do free flowing stuff, I just do stuff off the top of my head. And but your book was fascinating. And I have made copious notes that i i would admit, I did get two books in the post very kindly, and one I have absolutely slaughtered with blue ink, which is terrible of me to mark a book. But it was fascinating and and we will get onto your book in a second because this is what we want to talk about stuff today. But before we do any of that, I just wanna ask you a bit about you and where you’ve you’ve come from so before we get to your your absolute expertise, let’s go backwards. And if it’s okay with you, when when we go through the chronology, before we even getting into your book, I would quite like to go into your crash, your spinal injury, and then from from what it said in the book, or what you read in the book was that was a big impetus for writing the book. So that’s that’s absolutely
Carlton Reid 3:22
something I think we ought to talk about with your permission. But first of all, I think
Carlton Reid 3:29
I would like to ask you about your second name. So are you by any chance related to Edith Cavell who obviously was a famous nurse in the First World War?
Phil Cavell 3:40
Yes, allegedly. According to my father
Carlton Reid 3:46
So, potentially great, great something?
Phil Cavell 3:52
My great great grandfather’s aunt allegedly — I’ve never done the family tree, Carlton.
Phil Cavell 4:01
So I’m qualifying in there but my father was an
Phil Cavell 4:06
honest, decent person. I don’t think he would have misled us. And apparently there’s not many Cavell’s in the country and we’re all related. Apparently
Carlton Reid 4:17
Yes. It’s an unusual name so that’s why I’ve got Smith it’s like well, you may be you are
Carlton Reid 4:24
either, okay. Yes. Yes. Okay. So that’s something I’ve never asked you and I have known you fell for probably the best part of 30 years. And even before so you are known for cycle fit. Okay. People will will will absolutely know Phil Cavell
Carlton Reid 4:41
and your and your partner Julian — Jules — for cycle fit. But I knew you before that. So I knew you. When this is very late zeitgeisty now to have bike parking. That’s, you know, recognised thing. It’s good thing to have bike parking for people to
Carlton Reid 5:00
To protect their bikes, but that’s what you did. Is that how you got into the industry into this fear by doing that Covent Garden bike park?
Phil Cavell 5:09
Yes, at the age of I was 30 and Jules was 29. I was in the music industry before that, and I’m I’d always made an intention to get out in the music industry. By the time I was 30. I was already racing bikes. At that I’m losing I were racing together, we raced all together. And at 28, 29 I got out the music industry, and we started Bike Park, which is very much our baby really. And so we rented this little building around the back of where we are now in Stukely Street and we rented it for a princely sum of £6000 per annum and we converted it with our extremely good friend Guy Andrews who then went on to found the Rouleur magazine empire. At the time Guy was between jobs, we were all between jobs. The three of us converted the space
Phil Cavell 6:11
that we rented in about three months all by hand. And Guy Andrews was the site foreman, he was Captain Manwairing
Phil Cavell 6:20
Phil Cavell 6:21
was a bit I think it was a bigger one, the Scottish was always
Phil Cavell 6:25
saying “we’re doomed., Captain” Jules and I was unfamiliar…. And we just converted it ourselves. And then we it was just all was all one of those things that all you thought through all emotion and tension. And then we open seven o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night, seven days a week.
Carlton Reid 6:46
Would it be fair to say it was ahead of its time and it failed?
Phil Cavell 6:50
Well, you know, it’s the other way around, it failed.
Phil Cavell 6:57
Probably ahead of its time.
Phil Cavell 7:01
Remember, because at the time John Smith had just died, the Labour leader, it was all it was, it was your word is right, as I guide it, you know, John Smith died, I think a couple of days before we opened. Labour leader, it was a very strange times coming out of recession early 90s is a bizarre time.
Phil Cavell 7:21
We I mean, I think I think it’s true to say that cycling, we hadn’t thought right way, when or a little wave, you know, lots of careers.
Phil Cavell 7:29
Lots of people cycling around London, but it’s all based on how inexpensive some works rather than how healthy works. And so we report the wrong wave had we done it to 10 years later, when we did the cycle that we probably would have bought the right wave.
Phil Cavell 7:46
I think that’s true to say, having said that, we didn’t
Phil Cavell 7:51
know I had been
Phil Cavell 7:54
on a lifestyle. All we wanted to do was rate up bikes. And you know, it was very much London cycling based so we didn’t need much money. So we kept going for 9, 10 years.
Phil Cavell 8:04
And you know, we kind of got by on repairing bikes, renting bikes, parking, bike parking, but it didn’t make any money.
Phil Cavell 8:15
You know, it was it was great, actually. It was brilliant.
Carlton Reid 8:18
So we will we will organically come onto Cyclefit just when we when we when we go through your books. We don’t need to go from Bikepark to Cyclefit.
Carlton Reid 8:27
right now. Although absolutely, I totally want to. But I’d like to go straight into your book. Phil and I am going to be quoting snuff back to you. I’m going to be going from like page to page to page even going to like a one point I’m going to three page references at once to pick stuff that that you have repeated. And I thought that’s interesting. I’m going to ask Phil about that. So this is called “The Midlife Cyclist, the roadmap for the +40 rider.” And before we go into into the gubbins of it, and I should say the subhead is who wants to the plus for the rider who wants to train hard, ride fast and stay healthy, but you’ve got some absolutely stellar blurbs on here. So on the front, Phil Liggett says an amazing accompanied verb and I have descended behind Phil, he has an unbelievable early good. downhiller, which you do talk about going downhill in your book quite a lot. I always thought about Phil, when you were talking about that. And then you’ve got Fabian Cancellara. Now, I’m assuming and in fact, I’m not assuming because in the book it says so. So Fabian was a client. So you helped him?
Phil Cavell 9:32
Yes, we joined we sort of in-house bike fitters to Trek from 2012 onwards. So we came there probably the same time that we came to in the same time as Fabian actually, and Andy Schleck.
Phil Cavell 9:49
Radio Shack and the team was very much in transition later to become
Phil Cavell 9:55
Trek factory racing, Trek Sega-fredo so we sort of saw it through those transition period.
Phil Cavell 10:00
We all came together in
Phil Cavell 10:03
- Yeah. So we were all fresh in the team. And so we we drove out to the first holding camp training camp in Kalk Bay where we were introduced the theme and became a sort of in house bike fitter to the next four years, and Fabien was one of those.
Carlton Reid 10:23
So there are a few pro cyclists in the book, but mainly it’s not really about pro cycling, is it? It’s mainly about
Carlton Reid 10:31
hardcore amateur cyclists. But you know, who pushed themselves perhaps you do talk about this, perhaps they’re, they push themselves a little bit too hard. And then another quote on the book, which then jumped out to me, and I think I did remember that this guy was a cyclist, but I had to kind of google it just to make sure that’s Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, who says “I’m determined to grow old gracefully in Lycra. And Phil Cavell has been helping me to do it successfully for years.” So you’ve got a pretty interesting clientele list there.
Phil Cavell 11:01
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. I mean, Gary, I would have met in our music industry days because a very, very close friend of mine was his agent. And I mean, it’s not one of those separation of lives, we just, you know, we only really met and became friends and professionally acquainted, if you like, when I stepped out the music industry and went into the bike industry. And so yeah, I, he’s always been a client for many years as as as his as his wife.
Phil Cavell 11:32
Yeah, so we’ve helped them by fixing issues and things that come up when you keep a middle aged cyclist on the road. So we don’t call it a riding together as well. And when I think Gary looked phenomenal, and I think he really, he really is, is it I think, for me an exemplar of what cycling and for somebody, if they take it up at the right time and do it properly. Isn’t fantastic.
Phil Cavell 11:56
And there are other other 80s music people who are our clients as well. And it’s like, bewildering how good they look. You know, it really is they look amazing. They, you know, they they’ve aged very gracefully, they’re very slim, very fit, and very strong.
Phil Cavell 12:18
I think Gary is an examplar of that.
Carlton Reid 12:20
So an example of this also for the whole book is the quote right at the bottom of the back cover, and that I love this quote. And that’s so that this is what the whole book is about. Basically, it’s it “Grow old.” Period, full stop. “Get fast.” Lovely. Not for me, and then “Don’t die.” So that’s pretty good thing to live by there Phil?
Phil Cavell 12:43
Do you know I’m so pleased you’ve picked that out.
Phil Cavell 12:46
I love that. And I wanted it on the front. And I said, you know, we will put in the cover in the property as well. I’d like this right on a couple of days, right underneath midlife cycles. I want him to be letters. Gold, right? fast. Okay, fast. And I that’s what I want. You can’t do that. Have I on the cover of the book? If you can, so I didn’t get it on the cover.
Phil Cavell 13:09
That’s my that’s my thing. That’s what I said. That’s my very, very small elevator pitch.
Carlton Reid 13:15
Yes, I can understand that. And the “get die” bit, of course, is chapter three. As you say in our emails, the infamous chapter three, the don’t die chapter, which is long, and detailed and fascinating. And you said it’s like, you know, going down rabbit holes. I don’t think it is I think it’s fantastic. I particularly like the first paragraph, but we’ll get into that when we when we I’m going to I’m slipping, you know, non chronologically around the place at the moment, but we will come kind of like chronologically into the book
Carlton Reid 13:48
as we go through. But I would like to say as as you gave me kindly gave me permission. You said I was allowed to talk or get you to reminisce which which can be painful. So 2011. How did you crash?
Phil Cavell 14:02
I was riding home from work and I I hit a pothole
Phil Cavell 14:10
in front of it. I didn’t see it. It was a bicycle lane.
Phil Cavell 14:15
And it’s really encapsulates some of my other interests of something advocacy that the bike lane wins into a lane bus stop. And the bus stop was kind of like tiled where the cycle track went into the bus stop. There was a pothole where the tiles move. I didn’t see it. It was so sharp. And I ended up somersaulting over my bike and landing pretty much in the bus shelter, and it was one of those beautiful British moments where no one said a word when I lay there panting like a beached dolphon. Eventually I have to kind of say, “excuse me, I’m in a lot of problems
Phil Cavell 14:55
Can anybody please call an ambulance?”
Phil Cavell 14:57
At which point someone said “Yeah, no problem, man.”
Phil Cavell 15:00
They called me an ambulance and the ambulance came.
Phil Cavell 15:03
Phil Cavell 15:05
I’d really i’d hurt myself quite badly, although that wasn’t immediately diagnosed at the hospital, but I’d actually fractured my spine in a bad place in a particularly acute and extreme way. And
Phil Cavell 15:20
that’s started a chain of events that culminated in surgery that failed.
Phil Cavell 15:26
surgery that failed and a subsequent infection, and
Phil Cavell 15:31
really just trying to get
Phil Cavell 15:34
back was to resolve
Phil Cavell 15:39
all the time while my spine was getting worse and deteriorating, and the area that was
Phil Cavell 15:48
collapsing on itself, if you like, and then subsequently, so I can cycle through the theory of cycling, I was still working on and off.
Phil Cavell 16:00
I couldn’t find one then after I had more surgery in 2017.
Phil Cavell 16:06
Which was a much more serious nature, but it was what’s called 360 degree surgery. So they go through the front.
Phil Cavell 16:14
Phil Cavell 16:16
like, spaces in your spine, and then they go through the back and, join all that with much bigger surgery. But it was spectacularly successful. And really, you know, even though it kind of worked. So I’ve now got big scaffolding poles and
Phil Cavell 16:32
spacers in my spine.
Phil Cavell 16:35
So you know, mobility is not a very, you know, there’s a lot of structure there. Am I going into too much detail now, Carlton?
Carlton Reid 16:42
No, no, no, you’re going to the some of that detail in the book. And so it’s not. So that’s fascinating. Thank you. And we didn’t you didn’t talk about the crash, the crash was, you didn’t even mention how it happened or any of that. So I wanted to dig down into more detail on that. So yeah, that’s that’s that sounds awful. And the fact nobody’s helping you a great deal was sounds awful, too. So it was until page 254, where you mentioned, this was the impetus for writing the book and the fact that you are fixing in your day job, you are fixing broken cyclists. But here you were incredibly broken, and weren’t even riding at this point for a good few years. So that must have been awful for your your mental health.
Phil Cavell 17:24
I think you’d probably look in retrospect, I think it was often Yes, I think it was I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. And
Phil Cavell 17:32
if you ask my wife, she would say, lost seven or eight years, from 2011 to 2017, 2018 when I have this second seizure.
Phil Cavell 17:46
Yes, so I was having to work with cyclists. I’d kind of at that point, to be honest with you, I had written myself off as a cyclist. And my goals were to try and, and live without pain, not to ride a bike again, that was the sort of what that was, those were my immediate goals. And the way I earned my living was by helping cyclists, so you had to be separation to state and there really is not for me anymore. You know, it’s, you know, I can derive a lot of satisfaction from doing my job. Well.
Phil Cavell 18:18
And, and did you know, and I managed to do that. So I managed to sort of function.
Phil Cavell 18:26
My function is to function efficiently my work even though it wasn’t something I could do anymore. It wasn’t something I used to discuss , you know, I feel it was something which I was vaguely embarrassed about really, you know, I was here I felt a little bit fraudulent on occasion, but this is, you know, I was trying to help him do something that I could no longer do anymore.
Carlton Reid 18:48
Thank you for for, for sharing that that’s a must have been both metaphorically and figuratively painful for a number of years, both physically and mentally.
Carlton Reid 19:00
So thank you for writing the book as the impetus for that. Also. Now, I’m not going to I’m going to pick out three quotes and throw them back at you. And I know where you’re coming from, I was a fantastic way of expressing this when I eventually read these quotes out because I’m a bicycle historian. So I’m absolutely cognizant of exactly what you’re, you’re talking about here, but I’m gonna I’m gonna read the quotes and then you can either defend yourself or not. So it’s basically about the the actual thing that we ride each day and and I think a historical thing called “path dependence,” which maybe we can we can we can talk about. So you say that you’ve spent the “better part of your professional life essentially fitting caveman and cavewoman to a Victorian curiosity.” And by that mean, we mean “that our genome is substantially unchanged in 250, 000 years
Carlton Reid 20:01
but a bicycle’s dynamics are only unchanged since the the Boer Wars,” you’re basically saying
Carlton Reid 20:10
we’re not really fitted for these weird Victorian contractions, that’s page 49, you know, I’ll then jump to page 63. So you’re basically dissing bicycles here. But anyway, “modern bicycles are almost identical in architecture, dimension and biomechanical interface to something that was designed around the same time as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” And yeah, you kind of mention it. It is kind of weird that we’re riding these carbon fibre bicycles, that actually, the shapes haven’t changed a huge amount. And then page 202. Phil, “Despite how much we love them, bikes are a Victorian daydream preserved an aspect for well over a century because of a speciation event involving the UCI (union cycliste internationale) path dependence, and a huge dose of nostalgia.” Phil, why do you hate bike so much?
Phil Cavell 21:03
I think I say in a book, Carlton.
Phil Cavell 21:06
It’s good that you picked this up actually.
Phil Cavell 21:10
In the book, The bike is good enough, the design is big enough, the Victorians didn’t get that far wrong. Essentially, what I was saying is that the bicycle in a sense has got stuck in the Victorian era, because it’s failed to revise itself in the same way. And I think the example I use in the book is, you know, I’m staring down at QWERTY keyboard that was designed around the same time, Remington,
Phil Cavell 21:36
Phil Cavell 21:38
design around the same time to try and avoid the keys jamming; keys won’t jam any more because we still use a QWERTY keyboard. It’s like a path dependant,
Phil Cavell 21:49
or butterfly effect. We’re now living with the consequences of a failure to revise technology within the way that we interface with it is keyboard, also bicycle. What that means is, certainly with the keyboard, and also the bicycle are the best versions of themselves.
Phil Cavell 22:11
And the answer that almost certainly is no in both cases. The next question is
Phil Cavell 22:16
knowing, you know, because the bicycle is no longer
Phil Cavell 22:21
this version of itself, it’s a nostalgic device that we all love. And no one loves it more than make up and until you know them. It’s really, it’s just not the best version of itself. And the failure to revise it. It’s because of the speciation of and we’ve talked about in the book, where, you know, it’s the opportunity to revise it was kind of was missed.
Phil Cavell 22:44
So, the only reason in the book is one because it’s a lot of science and stuff in it. And now and again, it’s just nice to riff off in a different direction, it’s a bit less challenging. And also to be to add some context, in a lot of people that doesn’t feel great a lot of the time. And that part of the book is is in a sense, saying but that’s okay, you know, you rewrite not feel great some of the time, because, you know, humans didn’t evolve to ride this is our we’ve tried to do is fit something to you, which we think will take the potential into kinetic energy. Is that a rate translation device? No, enough? Of course it is. And because of the heritage and associations over the last 100 years, it’s now romantically, you know, kind of, you know, our DNA, it’s certainly a mine, and that’s fine. But, you know, we shouldn’t run away with the idea that bicycles are a modern, devised and honed over over centuries and decades. That isn’t the case. Cycling dynamics are exactly the same 130 years ago, as it is now, very, very different.
Carlton Reid 24:02
You make a very good point in the book about the UCI, if they had been if the UCI had been in existence in the 1880s, then very possibly, they would have frozen the bicycle at the pennyfarthing and said this is this is it, we you know, we can’t have any more
Carlton Reid 24:21
changes to this, we’ve got to every race on this thing. We can’t have, you know, even kind of even pneumatic tires. And that would have that would have had a path dependence in its own way that would have totally changed many parts of a world history. So kind of good that they didn’t exist. But with the same coronary, you then talk about when they did ban a product so that was when they banned in the 1920s when they banned the Egg recumbent so my question is, do you genuinely think that if the UCI didn’t exist and we’d have been able to design a bicycle in any way
Carlton Reid 24:59
and it could have kind of gone into any direction. Do you think we would all be on recumbents now?
Phil Cavell 25:04
No, that’s not really the point? That’s a good question. Not really the point because it’s not for me to say what would have come after it is only for me to say that nothing came after it. You know, there was an incident in the 20s when the UCI banned the Mochet bike by
Phil Cavell 25:20
that Francis Faure won the Egg record on in the 1920s.
Phil Cavell 25:26
Now it’s not, it’s not for me to say what would have come after, because what that event is, essentially is preserving aspect, what the basic architecture of bicycle is going to be.
Phil Cavell 25:39
I do think Mochet, if you look at Mochet, not much is known about him. But what what, what I would say is that his dream, and I do think he was ahead of his time, was to try and incorporate human power and mechanical power. So you know, the idea that you pedal a bit, and there’s a little electric motor that helps you out, his idea was to revolutionise transport, away from a heavy internal combustion engine, something that was a bit more fitting into a minimalist family life.
Phil Cavell 26:08
And we’ll probably circle right round and come back to that dream at some point, you know, we already kind of our electric filters and E bikes already coming around there, it’s just taken us a lot longer, I would suggest because there was this event froze the designer bicycle.
Phil Cavell 26:25
And it’s only they’re really out of contact with people, you know, not writing something, which is leading or cutting edge, in the sense, you know, of modern computers or, you know, or modern surgical devices, where, you know, maybe you’re designing with a little bit more freedom.
Phil Cavell 26:46
UCI describe what a racing bicycle is. And because competition and racing is so
Phil Cavell 26:53
influential, you can’t deviate from it. So you know, the price that we ride, the architecture is described by racing
Phil Cavell 27:03
Phil Cavell 27:05
and that’s what’s constrains it. Now. What What, what would be if we didn’t have those constraints? I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, yeah, yeah, I think recumbents have got some legs, like he ran over, he had some great ideas. You wouldn’t necessarily design a device, you spent most of your life in the same position as if you were actually in an office chair.
Carlton Reid 27:30
But isn’t there like,
Carlton Reid 27:33
there are ways of actually making the human body on a bicycle or a wheeled vehicle more efficient. And like the famous one is that the head first, where the person I’m sorry, I don’t know that the name and have to Google it, but is physically lying down forwards. The legs are coming backwards. There’s no being, as you say, in the book, constrained by, you know, this Victorian architecture, you’ve got the full gamut of movement, you’ve got to flex a bit, you’ve got everything there. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s incredibly fast because you’re low to the ground. But who the hell would ride it because your your your your forwards? So is it not the case that yes, the bicycle has absolute imperfections in the way we ride it and the way we’re constrained by riding it. But if it had been literally had been allowed to just explode into all sorts of different flavours, then it might have been some really weird flavours and the fact that we actually consolidated and froze it at what does this actually 95% perfect, let’s just keep it at that actually allowed bicycling to blossom.
Phil Cavell 28:38
I think. I think it probably allowed. Yes, bicycle racing is
Phil Cavell 28:45
it’s a game if you like, you know, it has rules. It’s like, you know, it’s like monopoly has rules and you play by the rules and you have an out winner. It’s like a racing is a game of bicycle is part of that game.
Phil Cavell 28:58
And it’s good enough. You’re talking about the Graeme Obree bike, I mean, Graeme Obree. I think he was probably nearly 50 when you broke the world record of doing something like 50 miles an hour bicycle, you know,
Phil Cavell 29:11
simply by capturing human mechanics, human biomechanics better, and then and then making aerodynamic. So I think you’re right, you know, we’ve got we’ve got this whole culture around science being inherited around. So I think it’s very exciting and very emotional. But we we denied decades and decades and decades of people saying, Well, actually, if we just absolutely re
Phil Cavell 29:35
Phil Cavell 29:38
no constraints whatsoever. What, that’s what we can deny.
Phil Cavell 29:43
Don’t do that. What would they do that? And so, if, for example, there was an event, a blue ribbon event, which is a Tour de France, and you can design without strain, just doesn’t matter. Here’s the rule rules are you have to use the human body. Other than that, everybody has that.
Phil Cavell 30:00
I mean, and it was big and the prices were huge. And it was, you know, who knows what we will come up with, it wouldn’t be a winner not be on a standard racing bicycle. It wouldn’t even be in the, in the, in the running the bicycle that one wouldn’t look like a modern racing bicycle if that event existed. That’s what you have to think about. How much of that then spilled out into a consumer product? Unknown, Unknown? No, not for me to think about really only saying from a mechanical perspective, there’s a lot more performance efficiency out there. And you know, it’s not for me to design that.
Carlton Reid 30:41
But it did bring us back to bicycles being perfect again, you do then say but you know, despite all of these, these these known problems,
Carlton Reid 30:51
it is the physios friend. So lots of people are actually brought into cycling, despite these these problems. So why is despite these problems, why is bicycling? Why is the bicycle the physios friend?
Phil Cavell 31:06
It’s true? Yeah, that’s true. Because again, it goes back to being good enough.
Phil Cavell 31:13
Had hip surgery or knee surgery or even ankle surgery. And of course, you know, we see a lot of these people because of what we do. The classical, if you if you get it right, can be a primary rehab by certainly the hip patient. And one of the one of the people are using the book, as an example, Nigel, you know, he was he was, you know, he had a very serious hip injury, very, very serious crash, and very, very difficult. third hip, nail going straight down his femur, essentially running back. He was pedalling at cycle fit, he did it ten days after surgery, and I set him up in a rehab position, we weren’t together going forward.
Phil Cavell 31:55
And, you know, he had a good team behind him, not me. And he was fine. He went back to full strength for four months in that in a three month, four month maximum. In that sense, he used the five squares he had both we really had, I think the physios friend thing is , slightly tongue in cheek with it is not as easy as just saying, here’s a bicycle fit on it, and you’ll be fine. If you’ve had hip surgery or hip knee surgery, it does actually be between really fitted.
Phil Cavell 32:26
Yes, it won’t be load bearing, it doesn’t mean it won’t load points adversely, if you don’t get the knee extension angle, right. And the hip angle, right, all those things need to be considered. And we can be the best rehab or, you know, as good as swimming. Unlike swimming, you are interfacing with a machine and all that needs to be considered.
Carlton Reid 32:48
So, Phil, before we go into chapter three, the infamous chapter.
Carlton Reid 32:56
Carlton Reid 32:57
is it the longest, it must be the longest chapter in the book, isn’t it? It must be before we go into chapter three film so that if you’ve got a few minutes in which to compose yourself, and to do maybe there’s two forms of your yoga, which you talk about in the book, and the square breathing, all that kind of stuff, you talk in the book, you This is your chance, because we’re going to go to an ad break. And we will go across to David, take it away, David.
David Bernstein 33:23
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a longtime loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is they’re on believable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.
Carlton Reid 34:48
Thanks David. And we are back with Phil Cavell and we are discussing “The Midlife Cyclist” and instead of what’s on the front cover, I’m going to go to Phil’s favourite quote on the back which would be
Carlton Reid 35:00
On the front, Bloomsbury, please put on the front for the second edition, and that is “Grow old. Get fast. Don’t die.” now that don’t die bit
Carlton Reid 35:10
is kind of leading into the infamous chapter three in Phil’s book and it’s an arguably wonderful title for a chapter. It’s just when I die question mark. Now, I when I was reading the book, I was wondering when these touchy subjects were brought up, and lo and behold, he was a was a whole chapter on it. So despite the fact that Phil is maybe groaning because I think he’s had some feedback on this particular chapter.
Carlton Reid 35:39
But let’s let’s set this up. For the listeners who are all going to rush out and buy your book Phil, but let before they buy the book, and then listen to this.
Carlton Reid 35:48
It basically, you get this bit out of the way? Absolutely, straightaway, as a first paragraph, you’re talking about the risk of cycling. So basically, your risk of dying on a bike by getting killed by one of these or four motorists that we will hear about constantly, is just incredibly slim. It’s like
Carlton Reid 36:10
you got to be pretty unlucky, in effect to die on a bike from from that kind of, of trauma. So what this chapter is all about is not you know, bike lanes not that topic at all. Not they’re not the the dangerisation of cycling topic at all. This is a whole chapter on
Carlton Reid 36:31
how dangerous is it as a midlife cyclist and you can maybe give us a definition of where you you think that starts fail. But how dangerous Is it because there are lots of scare stories out there in the media of, you know, studies that the media, the mass media, the mainstream media, the tabloid press, in effect, have taken kernels of and twisted to basically say you really shouldn’t exercise. You should be a couch potato, because exercise is bad for you. So So take it away on this chapter filled by But first of all, tell us when you say midlife, how old are you talking about?
Phil Cavell 37:07
Yeah, so midlife is the title of the book? It’s a fair question.
Phil Cavell 37:13
Bear in mind that none of us would be even read 35 until probably 140, 150 years ago, and in the ancestral environment, we never made it past 30 or hardly ever vanishingly rare. A midlife, if you were going back 1000 years would be 15
Phil Cavell 37:33
midlife now for this for this book, I think it’s 40, 45. and above, I think, and then 40, and I widen that band, going forward at 90 is still my life, as far as I’m concerned. In terms of things like bone density, and testosterone and muscle density, all these things he could 30
Phil Cavell 37:56
No, that’s not an accident at all. Because in the ancestral environment, you know, you plants to breed and then bring up your offspring, and then hopefully, they will start breeding again. And that will happen by 30, there’s evolutionary pressure in the ancestor of you alive. 30, I think
Phil Cavell 38:15
any evolutionary psychologist listening, this will be coming on death. You know, that’s very broadly, the selective pressure to keep you alive to 30. There’s no selective pressure at all, in terms of genetically to keep you alive to 40, 50. Genetically.
Phil Cavell 38:33
So essentially, this book is about from that moment we become genetically irrelevant.
Phil Cavell 38:38
You know, modern medicine, we’re all still in very good health. But there’s a new study out, isn’t it? It’s just come out. I mean, I didn’t see that study, obviously, it’s just come out, where a third of 40 year old now, and a fourth third of 40 year olds, sort of, you know, serious underlying health condition. Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, etc. So that kind of, you know, that’s kind of the age group I’m targeting, you know, if you’re not, if you’re not doing something about this, before, it is, you know, you should be thinking about
Phil Cavell 39:13
maybe there’s a long answer to a short question. So I think 40, 45 onwards, Carlton. And the new data research seems to bear that out.
Carlton Reid 39:22
So even though this chapter is quite dark in parts, there’s lots of humour in there at all, and you’re very self effacing in the book, there’s quite a few nice gags in there in quite a tough chapter. And it is hard reading for men. Yeah, it’s probably quite elevating for women because women can it seems can can do what the hell they like, and they ain’t going to come across from from, you know,
Carlton Reid 39:51
pitching over from a heart attack. So would you say it’s fair that women can pretty much got off scot free here?
Phil Cavell 39:59
Phil Cavell 40:01
appears so. Ultimately you don’t don’t want to run away with this and say, okay, and every woman, you know, you could whatever you want, and because you know, there are things and there’s lifestyle issues. In terms of self selecting group, we’re looking at people who seek to exercise moderately, women not seem to be really at risk here.
Phil Cavell 40:23
Right. And much cardiologists who are doing all this research for Gemma Parry-Williams, who featured in the book a lot, and it’s quite excellent.
Phil Cavell 40:33
And Ahmed Merghani, with his research worries me, they’re all desperately trying to find, you know, when some boxes that women are implicated, and they can’t find it
Phil Cavell 40:44
doesn’t mean it or not. It doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. But right now the longitudinal studies can’t seem to find any friends, for veteran women athletes having audio.
Phil Cavell 40:59
So, you know, that’s about as far as we can
Phil Cavell 41:03
see, women are not in
Phil Cavell 41:06
now, I guess that feeds into the next question is with Why? And I don’t know, I don’t think anybody doesn’t know. It’s hypothised, you know,
Phil Cavell 41:19
things like the protective effect of Oestrogen, you know, decades and decades of oestrogen, you know, being used around the women’s bodies
Phil Cavell 41:29
means less atrial stretch Heart of the kinds of stuff, you know, and the fact that women have got two X chromosomes, men have only got one X chromosome, one Y chromosome, a lot of the
Phil Cavell 41:42
immune system information is carried on the X chromosome, does that mean they better?
Phil Cavell 41:48
You know, their immune system for men? Well, yes, they certainly do have better immune system and
Phil Cavell 41:54
or does it men seem to lack a central governor? You know, we think about it in horses, where resources, some resources cannot raise themselves to death. And that has given this this title, central governor is about men, you know, that we lacked the, you know, somehow the capacity or the, you know, the way we will say that in
Phil Cavell 42:17
Phil Cavell 42:19
Phil Cavell 42:21
Or is there some other thing of men’s lifestyles that we store our information and incrementally just layer on inflammation on inflammation, and makes us vulnerable to the problem.
Carlton Reid 42:33
And talking about the cardiologist you interviewed for the book at a good place made to mention that you have got these wonderful experts in there, and an awful lot of them seem to be midlife cyclists to? Is that is that a fluke that they are? Is that how you came upon them? Or is cycling something that they were attracted to? For health reasons? Well, how come you met all of these fantastic cardiologists through cycling?
Phil Cavell 42:59
Well, I mean, most of them I knew before. For Nigel (Stephens) I knew before.
Phil Cavell 43:07
And Audrius (Simiatis) is a client who I met, so you know, obviously I’m pleased to meet these people aren’t are they coming for a weekend chatting? You know, I invite them to come and give a lecture at Cyclefit at or, you know, whatever, you know, so Cyclefit was a driver there, then I would just seek them out, you know, you know, if I was doing research, I was interested in Ahmed Merghant. I called him up and he said like I’m really busy.
Phil Cavell 43:33
You so he I interviewed him both a few times. I wouldn’t go over to sit in the I would go visit in the lobby at Guys hospital and sit there and in the lobby with the you know, with a recorder and just ask him as a question between patients. You know, so Audrius Simiatis he’s a he’s a cardiologist and a cyclist and an immoderate one, he exercises hard. Nigel Stephens isa cardiologist, very well known. European Champion, obviously exercises and immoderately both of those do say, exercise hard, because they enjoy it necessarily, because they think it’s good for them.
Carlton Reid 44:13
I’ll go straight into a part of chapter three, you basically talk about the Lancification of cycling. So it’s again, this is a point that maybe we don’t raise often enough and because of Lance’s doping background would you do point out elsewhere in the book as you are acerbic elsewhere in the book about his doping background, but here you’re just talking about how in 2000 and with you know, his book, “It’s not about the bike” that brought a whole bunch of new people into cycling, a new cohort, more women came in into cycling, partly because of Lance. It wasn’t his Tour de France success, per se. It was the coming back from cancer success. So let’s just let’s kind of park to one side that
Carlton Reid 44:59
doping side of Lance Armstrong and just focus on you know what he actually did for cycling. So you presumably a positive on that side of the Lancification?
Phil Cavell 45:13
I am. I am very positive on that side. I mean to be fair, I was actually quite positive. On the other side for a long time I thought he’s winning 93 in Norway in the rain, you know, was astonishing when he won
Phil Cavell 45:29
Phil Cavell 45:32
I think he was younger that year than the junior world Champion. And I’ve got clients who, you know, who were very ill with cancer, and their oncologists, American oncologist had prescribed them cyling.
Phil Cavell 45:48
Phil Cavell 45:49
that’s coming. And so my, my oncologist has told me to get a bike.
Carlton Reid 45:54
An awful lot of people in the bike industry right now, probably wouldn’t be in the bike industry without that, that backstory he. Absolutely, yeah, we’ve got the bike boom now, but we had also, back then we had the Lance boom, so the road bike boom, was was almost singlehandedly down to Lance.
Phil Cavell 46:12
That’s right. That’s right. And it’s just not often is it? I mean, I, you know, I almost was like, there’s an omerta about it, you know, about you can’t discuss this. Yeah, and I totally agree with that. I think that’s right, I don’t think you know, I don’t, I don’t think I would have a business without there. I said, I have a very different kind of.
Carlton Reid 46:29
Let’s change the subject anyway, and get away from that, cos I know that’s a, that’s a red rag to a bull for lots of people, many people might have turned off by now. So let’s,
Carlton Reid 46:38
let’s change the subject. And that is a no no HRV so that’s heart rate variability. So you mentioned that in chapter three is a big, big splurge on it in chapter three. And then you come back to it even further into the book in which you basically say, you know, all the the FTPss all the all that, you know, the TLAs the three letter acronyms in the book, this is perhaps one of the the most important for and we’ve got a stress for an midlife athletes or somebody who’s trying to either get good or stay good on a bike. So So describe to me as a layman and you’re a layman, but describe heart rate variability and and why it’s now considered to be that’s that’s the kind of the gold standard.
Phil Cavell 47:27
Okay, well, heart rate variability HRV is just a measurement of the difference in spacing between your heartbeats. That’s what it is simply, we know we often think our heart is racing, you know, 67 to 130 beats per minute. And the spaces between those beats will be equidistant. They’re not there anything.
Phil Cavell 47:50
And, and the differences spacing carries a lot of information.
Phil Cavell 47:55
Life Science can use that information to improve their performance and their overall health well being.
Phil Cavell 48:02
The context of this book is, is I desperately want you in life athlete, to look after themselves,
Phil Cavell 48:09
be healthier, be more productive, to achieve the goals they set for themselves on the last ride in a tablet, or or a European Championship and roll this book is to say, Okay, if you’re going to do these things, look after yourself. You know, and that really is, despite the as you say, the irreverent humour in the book, there is some irreverence during the book. You know, overall, I hope the message of the book of course, is I want people to look awesome. And the reason I come back to HRV in the mindful slackers chapter, the end, I want to find a way to try and help people feel better. And heart rate variability, the way they do that, and one of my friends, very good friends within the book few times in Mandeville, who is a consultant is, you know, was was was, you know, I chatted about this a few times, he they use eight HRV. Some people take charge in intensive care, or they’re they charted hospital. And it gives some predictive information. And that predictive information is something we can use, I mean, back in the day, going back 40 years or 35 years, and I would get up in my heart rate. And I would do that and I would in the mind working hard and having an indication of how rested I was or how fatigued I was or information was only minimally useful because a lot of endurance athletes are what are what’s called a cardiac or heart just fall through the floor. So you know, a lot of us have heart rates within the 30s and early 40s. So, you know, taking our heart rate even if a virus are not very well in the morning, isn’t an exceptionally useful. However, HRV is a much more honest and nuanced metric. It will tell you how fatigued you are, how rested you are, how ready you are to punish your body with heart opening.
Phil Cavell 50:00
I think that’s true for all athletes. But it’s, it’s especially true for midlife athletes, because we’re intrinsically swimming upstream, swimming against the tide of nature.
Phil Cavell 50:13
So we need to know this important information and have the presence of mind the characters say, HRV is not looking great, you know what I, I shouldn’t think I should go to yoga class, eat properly, you know, hydrate, rest, and then train tomorrow. You know, that’s eminently sensible.
Carlton Reid 50:34
So what that was in chapter three, and it was, but then, because we’re getting done on TLAs, let’s go to the next one. And because you’ve got an interesting bit of research there, and that is functional threshold power. So FTP, a lot of people
Carlton Reid 50:51
who were into their, you know, performance sport, will, we’ll know FTP, but what in the book you’re backing this up with, with research, is the bizarre sounding anecdote or not anecdote finding, I should say, Sorry, that your hardcore amateurs are probably redlining, probably
Carlton Reid 51:13
going through that, compared to pros, and people think, obviously, Pros will be, you know, absolutely at the limit there. And they’re not so so what’s happening there? And what can people do about it?
Phil Cavell 51:26
Yeah, you can all the point they want. The FTP or functional threshold protocol,
Phil Cavell 51:34
is a number which has gained in popularity. And it’s now become the only metric if you like. And the point about this is not to say that FTP doesn’t use or you should use it, or you can reference it. My point is, you shouldn’t be meeting the reference. Because, let’s be honest, at some point, your FTP will plateau, you know, you’re not a robot, you know, you know, so you can’t keep expecting to ratchet up your FTP, you know, it’s not a one way street, it’s either gonna have, and at some point is likely to go down. So, you know, if you make if you view your cycling enjoyment contingent upon,
Phil Cavell 52:15
I think you’re, you know, you’re in for disappointment, there’s a, there’s a broader basket of things that you can look at, reference, your performance enjoyment, that’s really what I’m saying.
Phil Cavell 52:28
With FTP is the one is doesn’t actually, it doesn’t present any physiological markers, and
Phil Cavell 52:36
it doesn’t, it’s one to actually track accurately, and it’s impossible to track accurate, you’re on your own, but you’re not actually a blood. So you know, what you’re doing really doing on your own section. So what what the coaches that I found, and the three or four in the book is that most people, you know, overstate their FTP. And, and if they then use that as a predicate for the training levels, through the year, they end up training, they end up going too hard most of the time. And the, as you say, the this is all just data. And if you compare that to professional cyclists, they spend, proportionally less of their time, anywhere near the line that we do. Their bodies are on tick over. And we’re racing away like a hummingbird.
Phil Cavell 53:27
And that’s, you know,
Phil Cavell 53:29
I told you all you need to know, you know, these guys race for a living and yet they’re nowhere near their red line. We go on living and we’re twice their age and we’re passing off the red limit.
Carlton Reid 53:43
So what can people do what is it just is that basically just don’t overtrain is that is that the giveaway there?
Phil Cavell 53:50
It’s just the structure is different. It’s about saying look at your training, you’re looking at providing and reviewing and if you actually go back to through our my and Jules’ career at Cyclefit, and also in writing this book, let’s go back to first principles. You know, what we design to do, you know, so essentially human are extremely good at endurance, we’renot very fast. There’s no other mammal in the world that we can out run? We can’t even out run a badger you know we’re not great you know what I mean? We can’t there’s no there’s no mammal in this country you know, you can Out Run I mean all me You know, we’re just we’re not far we are is endurance. You know, we write endurance animals we were we were born and evolved to persistent hunt. So you know, those endurance those are the those that go with our evolution in
Phil Cavell 54:46
healing our endurance themes if you like, and all of the coaches I interview with saying the same thing it’s like well, lets you know what you really want to do. Not only the midlife cyclist, but certainly more than the life side
Phil Cavell 55:00
This train, oxidative system, aerobic system, those are the ones you want, you actually want make that the most efficient machine, you can make it before you even think about,
Phil Cavell 55:13
you know, looking at pure high end form. And I think that’s absolutely right. Well, what happens too often on with my clients is that I’ve got, you know, it’s not like I can say that they’re not there to their coach that can come into the sport, absolutely loving it, come to this set up number, and they just want to elevate the FT number, if I will, not necessarily all guys, it’s guys and girls, but, you know, hold on a second. You know, you’re ignoring a whole background there of aerobic capacity training you should be doing, you know, you’re bypassing all time you’re on the red line, you’re not working at the system.
Phil Cavell 55:57
And the coaches data backs it up, they’re looking at they compare their amateur clients with a professional client, that professional clients are more rested, more rested, having an easier time but you know, less near the red line less overtrained, lift higher listed beat us.
Carlton Reid 56:14
So there are some great training myths that you do bust in the book. And I’d like to focus on on on one here. And it’s kind of less like almost two in one. But anyway, and that’s like the pedalling in circles and the souplesse the way that you’re meant to, or that was one point 20 years ago, and it’s still absolutely lingering when you call it the cycling’s Flat Earth movement. And that is the upstroke So are you saying forget the upstroke, upstroke is just a complete non-starter because, if I am right in saying, the hip flexor?
Phil Cavell 56:55
I will start with that presumption. Yes, there are times when you will be pulling away from a traffic lights as fast as you can or you know, start riding a mountain bike race, you will pull up the first few pedal stroke. Yeah. And on top of the climb standing up, you
Phil Cavell 57:14
may also block all that’s fine. I’m not saying you never pull up. What I’m saying is that when you’re pedalling at tempo,
Phil Cavell 57:23
on a climb or on the flat and you’re at your, you know, your your sustainable power, if you like you’re really working quite hard. There is no such thing as a non event. Because going back to first principles, Catherine, you evolved to be powerful in extension. Running, you’ve already got parents playing with ground contact. And ground contract means that you’re going to be using your, your extensor muscles, your glutes, your quads, and your path those your primary extensor muscles. Because those are the muscles that come back to when you come back, maybe a little bit of a hamstring as you push away from the ground. But that’s it. Once you’re free of the ground, that’s when your flex has come in to move the lever system after you take the next ride. So you’ve evolved to have our ground on time, which means you’re extensive.
Phil Cavell 58:17
That’s how that’s just human evolution. And if you if you ride a bike and actually just try and switch off the push down and just pull up your you know, in about 40 yards you’ll realise that’s not good, right? You’re trying to use lean muscle
Phil Cavell 58:35
evolved to fulfil that role.
Phil Cavell 58:39
And one of the you know the hip flexor muscles is is is primary amongst the hip flexors are essentially reflectors and stabilisers. And, you know, the only ever evolved to lift the weight of your leg forward for you can then take the next stride.
Carlton Reid 58:58
And that’s an example of us being harnessed to a Victorian contraption, leading us leading us into bad habist.
Carlton Reid 59:07
It’s a Victorian contraction that as you say in the book is quite constrained. And the motion on the pedalling. It’s not circles, as you say there, it’s basically I think one of the weights when you describe Armstrong’s pedalling technique is basically mashing on the pedal. So just hammering up and down forget the circles. Yes. Now I’m Phil, I’m in absolutely no way shape or form an athlete. I have done races in the past, but I tend to do
Carlton Reid 59:41
24 hour solo events just because I can then get into the top 20 because people just drop out anyway.
Carlton Reid 59:47
But I do remember friends who are athletes, and when they’re trying to get me to train which I never used to do at all, but they would they would give me exercise and they say you should do this. And one of the ones I remember and this is when
Carlton Reid 1:00:00
During the book, I was thinking, hang on, I was told to do this at one point, which is no, you’re quite down on indoor cycling. But anyway, is this an indoor cycling technique where you’re meant to actually use one leg and pull up, you’re actually meant to be training your pull up muscles. And I’m sure a lot of people are probably still doing that. But you’re saying, basically, for God’s sake, don’t do that. It’s giving you no benefit whatsoever. In effect, it’s actually probably harming you.
Phil Cavell 1:00:27
I think, I think you should definitely do one legged pedal drills, if you intend to go and do one legged pedal races. If that’s what you intend to do, then that’s a reasonable thing.
Carlton Reid 1:00:39
I could win them, I could win them.
Phil Cavell 1:00:42
If I agree with you, it’s, it’s essentially
Carlton Reid 1:00:46
not very helpful and possibly can really hurt you. Because the hip flexors are quite a delicate muscle group and they pass through the hip. There’s not a lot of space there. It’s definitely not a muscle you want to over develop. And if you look at the architecture, the architecture architect that part of our body is very, very constrained. hip flexor is not a muscle you want to mess with.
Carlton Reid 1:01:07
So mash, mash, don’t try and do circles. Okay? Now that’s that’s that, if we don’t take anything else from the book, if it’s only one thing we take away, and in fact, I’ve printed actually picked out lots of things I’ve taken from the book. But anyway, if there was only one, then that’s a pretty good one to take away. Yeah. Yep. Another one, which
Carlton Reid 1:01:29
was basically unclipping. And you call that “pedalling paracetamol”? And that’s for people who come to you with all sorts of
Carlton Reid 1:01:37
different issues. And then you do this one simple trick, you know, like this YouTube thing, one simple trick cures, and then you find that that helps a lot of people. So just, in effect, stop being constrained. Is that is that what you’re saying with with peddling paracetamol?
Phil Cavell 1:01:52
Yes. bicycle, the humble bicycle, Victorian architecture, as you said before, it’s what quite constraining, and if you can remove one constraint, and you can give somebody a different sort of feedback from the bicycle. So one of the things we do, someone comes in, they’re injured, or they’ve got a problem.
Phil Cavell 1:02:14
Head problem, kneew problem foot problem, one of the things, we look at the pedal scan, and we see that the scan is very dysfunctional, one of the things we’ll do is take off the pedal, put some flat pedals on, put them in their trainers and sit back on the bike
Phil Cavell 1:02:29
and pedal the new trainers on the flat pedals. And more often than not covering 90% of the time, you just get this kind of transformation in both pedalling activity, motor patterning, but also in their own their emotional mood, like they suddenly feel relaxed, and they feel efficient, they feel powerful, they feel productive. And all you’ve done is you’ve unkept them, frankly, and stop them being able to pull back and pull up.
Phil Cavell 1:02:56
And could they just feel again, they can just start to feel repetitive again. And it happens all the time. And it generally happens with clients who’ve been injured. Not always, by the way, but clients who’ve been injured, and we’re, and we’re trying to rehab them. And it happened the other day, it happened the last week. Last Monday, I had a client ex pro cyclist, and he’s now been sent away with, you know, a couple of months of three times a week, he has to eat for five minutes, either indoors that pedals on his mountain bike without pedals.
Phil Cavell 1:03:28
And he’s going to do it.
Carlton Reid 1:03:29
So, Phil, the the obvious question is, well, why don’t we just unclip all the time?
Phil Cavell 1:03:34
It’s a really good question, because that isn’t isn’t why we have pedals in pedals because they can provide a lot of efficiency having a stiff carbon soul which disperses the the pressure across the whole soul of foot. Pedal holds your foot in the right position relative to the pedal spindle, the maximum efficiency and power and also because you want to move around a bike, and if you’re moving around a bike, you need to have your foot clipped in, you know, it’s very hard to send fast or paddling back or get out the saddle and pedalling in time. If you’re not, there’s plenty of reasons to be clipped in. You don’t clip into pull up your clipping for for stability.
Carlton Reid 1:04:13
Hmm, okay, takeaways from the book. Okay, so I’ve got a little box out here, fill, and we can go through them.
Carlton Reid 1:04:21
And if I just if I just say what it is, and then you give me a quick, why, why you why I picked this up from the book why I think what I think is important, but you tell me why you put it in the book. So don’t drink booze.
Phil Cavell 1:04:37
Because Because ethanol alcohol ethanol is an obligate oxygen.
Carlton Reid 1:04:42
it’s a poison.
Phil Cavell 1:04:45
It treats it as poison and is obliged to metabolise it first, so it recognises as a toxin and it’s very excited about it wants to get it out your body quickly. If you’re trying to train the next day after
Carlton Reid 1:05:00
looked at many things. Your body is still frantically trying to metabolise the alcohol and won’t metabolise the very healthy breakfast you have continues to order all the alcohol. ethanol is not recognised as the body’s fuel is recognised as poison. I should say that. I’ve got no you know, I was a very, very I used to basically drink a lot of red wine. And still would, you know, I’m somebody, I’m a sinner not somebody who is abstemious by nature, we are
Carlton Reid 1:05:30
you have actually made wine recommendations in the book, there’s a couple of points where you talk about Italy,go you know, this particular vineyard to go here. So, yes, you have you’re not totally you’re not a teetotaler from from from day one. You do make wine recommendations, but that’s good point. Okay, so that’s don’t drink booses, but do drink cherry wine, sorry, cherry juice? Why would you drink cherry juice? T
Phil Cavell 1:05:53
hat’s been shown to have some points
Phil Cavell 1:05:56
have some effects in terms of sleep and recovery? So cherry juice is has been shown to be quite beneficial.
Phil Cavell 1:06:06
Phil Cavell 1:06:08
it’s been out for a few years that research. I mean, certainly cherry juice seems to be a bit like whoever was taking
Phil Cavell 1:06:16
on what they it was. A few years ago. Everyone was
Carlton Reid 1:06:19
Phil Cavell 1:06:20
beetroot juice, weren’t they? Same thing.
Phil Cavell 1:06:23
There are certain certain chemicals in the in beetroot and in cherry. It used to seem to have some beneficial effects. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 1:06:31
And it’s also good for sleep, isn’t it? Usually you say it’s
Carlton Reid 1:06:36
melatonin at night and stuff?
Phil Cavell 1:06:38
Yeah. So it stimulates
Phil Cavell 1:06:40
Which which which secretes melatonin, which helps you sleep.
Carlton Reid 1:06:45
Okay, now you’re a big fan in the book of cross training. So you do say you know don’t it’s not Yeah, it’s about the bike but don’t be on the bike all the time. One thing and this is actually something I do all the time anyway. And so you said about walking over uneven surfaces and that’s for bone density. So you know, don’t take just your dog on the canal towpath, you know, go into the woods a bit and get a bit of off roading in. But then you also mentioned something I don’t do that. Maybe I should and that’s paddleboarding so it seems you’re you’re kind of like a big convert into paddleboarding?
Phil Cavell 1:07:20
Yes. I’m into anything? Yes, I think the older you get. It’s almost like the less cycling you need to do to be faster at cycling you won’t be fast at cycling. The older you get the more you’re gonna have to drop out cycling in something else. Your photo you’re fighting bone density sarcopenia which is muscle loss. So your for you need to exchange your cycle sessions with something else. What do you what do you exchange them for? so chaotic walking? That is great man listen describes a great friend of mine physiotherapist because it walking is just a way if you can’t run for one reason or another. Healthy walk is a really good idea. So walking, probably walking poles on rough ground every step it’s different for bone density for balance for strength. paddleboarding is great for cyclists because it works on several things we really add
Phil Cavell 1:08:10
strength, lower trap strength, and also keeps us an extension of not flexed. Or an office chair. We’re an extension so paddleboarding It is really really very good for scientists is almost a perfect antidote sight out one session and put in something else something like a boarding or walking with all or something.
Carlton Reid 1:08:33
Okay, next, you kind of pre dismissive on most supplements but then you do say vitamin D
Phil Cavell 1:08:43
Yes, between these a hormone, it’s not a vitamin. So it provokes the body to do something.
Phil Cavell 1:08:49
And vitamin D i think is without, you know without
Phil Cavell 1:08:55
proselytising saying say you’re watching run out and buy vitamin D, it doesn’t have a role in in provoking middle aged athletes to you know, to increase density things to have some function of the immune system. We live in the Northern Hemisphere, supposedly getting the same sunshine that we used to, you know, seems to make sense, which is long overdue it
Phil Cavell 1:09:19
supplements seems to be what seems to be pretty much universally accepted, I think between these as you get older and still trying to hang on performance.
Carlton Reid 1:09:30
And that than maybe cod liver oil, you kind of you say you take that as a supplement too.
Phil Cavell 1:09:34
Cod liver oil Yes, it’s cod liver oil obviously it’s it’s, it’s it’s good because it is you know your lipids and your blood
Phil Cavell 1:09:45
is HDL but also it is also anti inflammatory because fish oil actually has an anti inflammatory role.
Phil Cavell 1:09:55
So you know, cycling essentially high level Cycling is inflammatory
Carlton Reid 1:10:00
And, you know, he fish oil will actually be a mild anti inflammatory.
Carlton Reid 1:10:06
And then a big I’ve actually put this in caps a big takeout from the from the book which you mentioned a couple of times a few times. And that is sleep.
Phil Cavell 1:10:14
Oh yes, this is a big one. I mean, I, we didn’t go into this enough and I wish I had. But I think the fall asleep is underestimated it’s underestimated with older people, older athletes, we just underestimated we just try and burn the candle at both in and then you know, make a sandwich out of it. It’s just like, we’re into March. And sleep seems to have the thinktel role every year studies and the research seems to suggest sleeps role is more and more crucial. I think midlife people, you know, panting profession, family exercise responsibilities, you know, the first thing that we can get rid of, it’s sleep. So, you know, it’s an extra hour. And we need, you know, we get up earlier, you know, so we sacrifice it willingly to try and try and tick off the rest of its responsibilities. But there seems to be interest.
Carlton Reid 1:11:07
Zwifters have now got a turn away here. Now that turn off now, because you’re not really a big fan of indoor cycling, are you?
Phil Cavell 1:11:16
No, I think I think I’m, I think that’s fair to say, Carlton.
Phil Cavell 1:11:20
Yeah, I can’t deny that.
Carlton Reid 1:11:21
So why Why? I mean, you mentioned in the book, but tell us now why you’re not a big fan of indoor cycling.
Phil Cavell 1:11:27
I’m not a fan of it because
Phil Cavell 1:11:30
I think people go too hard, in a poor position in poorly ventilated rooms. with not enough hydration, it’s just this this alarm authority for me, because an indoor cycling generally and this is an assumption and I might be wrong. But generally speaking, these days, indoor cycling seems to be about going very, very hard and very, very far pain cave stuff, isn’t it? So the even the pain is saying, you know, we’re going to hurt ourselves. Yeah.
Phil Cavell 1:12:04
Yeah. And I to me something star side where the topography in the road and the terrain and limit your effort, you know, you go up the hill, and you’re gonna go down a hill, you know, there’s a natural kind of flattening effect. If you like, your south side, so there’s fresher air and slightly, okay, and, you know, all these things. And there’s something about the way people are wired in or, you know, when they’re really riding hard, I think, form on the bike posture, and then muscle recruitment and their motor patterning. And they seem to kind of fight, right, which itself is completely stationary and mobile, so it’s not moving with you. And that’s what we forget, when we ride a bike out on the trail. You know, that moves us soccer dance, isn’t it, it’s moving and you’re moving, moving together. That doesn’t happen, you move in.
Phil Cavell 1:12:53
And guess which one’s gonna get thought.
Carlton Reid 1:12:55
So there’s a nice quote in there from from Dr. David Hulse. That’s on page 169. For anybody who’s reading along with this podcast. And that is “cycling mile upon mile in scenery.” I thought that encapsulated a lot. It’s like, you can actually go a lot further than you think when you’ve got nice things to look at.
Phil Cavell 1:13:19
What page is that?
Carlton Reid 1:13:20
Page 269. So it’s in one of the it’s in one of the final bits where
Carlton Reid 1:13:29
and I just thought that was excellent. Because it that Yeah, because my son’s just done a video of Scotland, his trip in Scotland recently. And just the the scenery was wonderful. And you’re just looking at it. And it’s probably one of the reasons that video do quite well is because a, he’s done some great drone photography of him and his girlfriend cycling, the weather was beautiful. So you can see for miles and miles, you can see the road snaking away. And you can just think, yeah, I could do 60 miles through that kind of stuff pretty easily. Because it looks so beautiful. So get out there and ride that’s actually the way we end the podcast. But that that is actually something that is quite important that that part of cycling, you lose that, no amount of computer generated graphics can can bring that that part of cycling into reality.
Phil Cavell 1:14:21
I agree with you. Dave Hulse writes beautifully. He writes beautifully.
Carlton Reid 1:14:27
And so yeah, it towards the end of the the book, you’re talking about how your next book in 20 years time when you’re that old is going to be called “The Twilight Cyclist”. So I absolutely look forward to to reading. I get to that age And I’m sure we’ll have another podcast even though I’m sure when we call that of course something weird and wonderful. In the future where we’ll we’ll talk about that book. But let’s come back to the present and the Bloomsbury book, Bloomsbury Sports. £14.99
Carlton Reid 1:15:00
It’s got $20 on the back here. How can people get hold of the book? Phil? How can they get hold of you? What are your social media handles? And give us your
Carlton Reid 1:15:13
website so people can go to your corporate side?
Phil Cavell 1:15:16
Yes. So www.cyclefit.co.uk
Phil Cavell 1:15:20
You can buy the book
Phil Cavell 1:15:23
I’ve got you can follow me on twitter if you want my content.
Phil Cavell 1:15:28
I think it’s just about anywhere you can search me on Twitter.
Carlton Reid 1:15:32
Thanks to Phil Cavell and thanks to you for listening to the spokesmen cycling podcast show notes and more can be found on the-spokesman.com. I know I’ve already said the usual show sign up. But as you’ve heard from Phil and Dr Hulse it bears repeating. So
Carlton Reid 1:15:55
get out there and ride and “there”, of course, is outside …
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