Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Catastrophe Theory

Looking at twitter posts in the lead up to the first Palace (Tues 27th) it was clear several people were showing signs of compeititive anxiety.
Competitive anxiety is necessarily a bad thing... its you getting psyched up / ready for something, and last night it was racing.
One person tweeted - 'got alittle bit of vomit in my mouth' >> this is somatic or physcial form of the anxiety. Where as Ben in my office was in high spirits and beaming ear to ear >> cognitive or mental form of anxiety and the smiling is somatic.

In the end Ben finished 4th in his race so he controlled his anxiety to his competitive advantage.
Where as I was just eating some Rocky Road cake, moping about the place, couldn't really be bothered. When I got the race, I was alittle bit more excited. But riding the course made me feel tired and weak.
I clearly wasn't controlling my anxiety to use it to my advantage.

I remember when I rode my first National cross champs (2008). After the first lap it sort of hit me I was racing with some big hitters and I'm in 7th. All sorts of things when through my head about being last, falling off, looking silly. Then I sort of got this nervous feeling and I couldn't really control my legs and it felt like I couldn't turn the pedals. So I slowed right down to try and deal with it.
This is a result of anxiety not being managed and the stress of the event negatively affecting performance.

All this bad riding last night at Palace and my can't be bothered attitude got be thinking about motivation and anxiety. Particularily the ol' Catastrophe Theory. How I can use my brain to get better.
Its the one hypothesis of how competitive anxiety influences performance. I used in some studies while I was at Uni. There are other theories (Inverted U, Drive, Multi-dimensional) but I reckon Catastrophe is the best.

Inverted U says that you'll become better as anxiety increases and then it will drop off slowly. Well I'm sure we've all had it when suddenly the game changes and we're just rubbish in the snap of a second. Inverted U doesn't consider that.


Drive theory is the worse theory ever. Mr Hull whocame up with it says as anxiety increases you just keep getting better and better. Well, you don't! Too much anxiety means you just don't go well and mess up (but Drive theory was invented in the forties so they weren't 100% on top of science back then).


Basically Catastrophe Theory says you can improve performance by increasing anxiety but it has to be controlled, if you over work yourself you could physical tire yourself (loads of confidence go for a break or get muscle tension and cramp) or mentally get overwhelmed (start to panic). Either way the theory says a catastrophe will happen and performance will plumet.
Yesterday none of the graphs applied because I didn't manage to even get near half way up the line.



All we have to do is get the anxiety to the right level and control it. Simple?
But I haven't quite worked that out just yet.....

Footnote
You can measure how anxious you get in competition here (http://www.brianmac.co.uk/scat.htm)
I've simplified theories and not considered personality type, motivation, behaviour and Optimum Arousal Theory (having an optimum zone of functioning)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Letter from the Vetran

I don't really understand when Julian has time to write this but I like his wit.

I have been wondering if I should be so bold as to propose a "King Alf Day". It is obvious that one or two of you are a little younger than myself, and may be at pains to appreciate the majesty and single mindedness of the fastest Englishman ever on a proper bike. Most of my knowledge of the King has been learned from my father, snippets from "Cycling" magazine and people lucky and bad enuff to have raced with the great man. I think one of his most awe inspiring traits, was the way he "stuck it up" the jacksees of that biggoted bunch of feckless old farts who would have seen crown green bowling as a criminal activity, the R.T.T.C. suffered their bans and wingeing, and still performed heroically, week after week.
The King wasn't a big man, not in height or build anyway,( see the backround of the middle till) but he routinely pulled off astounding rides using his trademark astoundingly huge gears, by the way.....his total gear selection was 58x13-15. That made his "easiest" gear the equivelant of 50x13 ! even at his speeds, he was definately no spinner. In the late 60s, that's sometime last century, just after the great war, the King rode an awe inspiring 51 minutes dead for 25 miles. This time broke his own record set a few years before. He very rarely got beaten, and he very rarely competed at any other distance, but he dominated short distance time-trialling for one and a half decades. He would often be in a near unconcious state after a race, having the knack of going to his absolute limit, and bikey legend has it that he could often be spotted pulling on a reefer to help contain the pain, usually in a nearby field.
During his racing career, as opposed to his job as a night-time baker, he was to break both of his knees, a possibly awkward affliction for a big gear merchant, one would surmise. Not for the King, oh no, matron, Alf just had plastic knee-caps fitted, "simples". Apparently, these would make a loud Click with every pedal stroke, I suppose 3 times a minute on a downhill section !Alf's spikey relationship with the affore-mentioned Timetrials association, R.T.T.C. was routinely aggravated by jealous rivals "grassing him up" for mostly fictitious "drafting" with traffic. Race observers and marshalls alike would often mistake the King's ability to ride as fast as the traffic with drafting, I think he probably used traffic as much as the next rider, I know that I did it when I could, and I was still crap.
I know that most of you youngsters appreciate good equipment, and Alf's was absolute top draw, Columbus Pista tubing, strictly for the track, yeah, right! Everything either drilled, thinned of flattened, 3 ounce silk tubs, again, strictly for the track! No one could out pimp the King's bike, only the King himself, look at the photo, you could hardly get a gnat's pube between tubular and seat tube !.........Here's the rub,
There are three people who's skill, speed, determination, results and longevity can reduce me to tears of awe, Eddy Merckx, Beryl Burton and the King, Alfred Engers. The King is still rocking, Beryl , bless her is dead, and Eddy is fat.....Love them all, they helped make the sport that we make a living from.
Julian Cunnington

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Following the Team

Sometimes with the RCS team I feel like such a gumby, super fan. Especially wearing my RCS t shirt throughout the race.
But it was needed to get behind the scenes and as a result of Andy Waterman's video says it all and we're so pleased with the team's performance and effort to take Zak to the line and the win.

Thanks to the team and Brigga for putting up with us and thanks to Brigga for doing the little interview at the start. I never saw that guy leave the front of the race.

Dean told me today at 30km there was a crash and his cleat got twisted and he had to ride one footed for alittle bit before dropping back to the team car to find a shoe. And that's why they all ride the same pedals!

We all learnt loads. Thanks also to Phips and you can see his images of the pre ride and race here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/markdphillips/sets/72157626402499845
Here is the video:

Monday, 11 April 2011

In numbers

20 degrees
3450 calories
5 hour 7 minutes
50 euro gite
8 segments of orange
1 mule bar
2 litres of water
bib 7
1st start group
25 miles got dropped

16.6 mph avg.
158 bpm avg. HR
0 punctures
0 offs
1 glove line
20 french jelly sweets

30.4 mph max speed

14 sectors
207 bpm HR max
5 egg omlette

FYI I'd do it again next year.

In photos




























Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Roller Disco

I'm going to get back onto the rollers and turbo this evening 30minutes of skills honing, then 40minutes of intervals.
I kinda forget to upload music because most of the time I can't be bothered. So I got loads of my recently purchased music (last six months) and skillfully chose some tunes to keep me entertained and the heart rate high (though its no yet been proven in the field of Sport and Exercise Science that music is related to an improved physical performance.)

 My ipod is broken and my iphone was stolen last Thurs. So I'm back to the old faithful £30, hideous green (because its the sprinters jersey colour), no screen, shuffle, enscription "Zabel is my leader."


The Shoes (Musical instruments and that with voices)

Cut // Copy (Drums and dancy like France dance)

Jaguar Skills (think Vol 1 is a fairly old CD. Think DJ Yoda in music terms)
You can get various free mixes after registering on the site.


Also crammed in is SoulWax - 2Many DJ's, Kitsune: Parisien and a mix by The Rub and a Roni Size Rapresent as a cool down song.




Friday, 1 April 2011

Lucky number 7

Got my bib number for the Paris Rouabix "race".
They've given me 7. Lucky for some and me because that means I am getting right in at the front pen. JACKPOT, no nutters for fall off on the cobbles in front of me and slow me down.

Bib no 1 is Sean Kelly.

Trigon RCC613

I didn't realise how good Trigon bikes were.
Review here http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2011/04/trigon-rcc613-bike-review/