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The Gatorade Secret Bike report [Updated]
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 22nd June 2012


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Event Video added - more 'Secret Series' events coming soon...

The second event in the Virgin London Triathlon 'Secret Series' took place yesterday at Manchester Velodrome. The Gatorade Secret Bike follows on from the March Speedo Secret Swim which was hosted by Keri-Anne Payne.

For those lucky enough to win one of the golden tickets, Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton was on hand along with Paralympic cyclists Neil Fachie and Jon-Allan Butterworth, plus the top scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

Being a local girl, we sent along our newest columnist Nina McArthur to join in the fun - and find out that she was going to be sweating a lot more than she expected....


A week ago, I received an email asking me to go down to a ‘Secret Bike' Event at Manchester Velodrome run by Gatorade and Virgin Active London Triathlon. To say I was intrigued was an understatement so yesterday I hopped on my bike and cycled to the track, excited to report on what lay ahead for me that afternoon. To be honest, I perhaps would have driven there had I known what was in store for my legs!

Gatorade Secret Bike

The cycling event was the second in a series of training events run by Virgin Active London Triathlon (you can see the Speedo Secret Swim HERE), who had launched a competition on their website and in the social media offering participants the chance to train and receive advice off talented athletes and sporting professionals. There were six winners present along with myself and several other media staff getting stuck into the day.

First off, PR sports media professional & triathlete Ryan Bowd asked us to do an ‘AA-Meeting' style introduction to introduce ourselves. One winner was triathlete Anna Price from Worcester who is planning to compete at the World Age Group Qualifier Event in Bristol in a month's time, "I don't really know what to expect, I'm looking for experience and advice on the bike I guess, although I have cycled at Newport Velodrome a few times. We've not really been given much information"'. Boy were we in for a treat.

Gatorade Secret Bike

Our first talk was from Adrian Hodgson, the UK Science Advisor for Gatorade Sports Institute on ‘Hydrating yourself for exercise and performance'. He emphasised that during training, the limiting factors are dehydration, fuel selection and oxygen uptake. When we sweat we dehydrate and need energy as both carbohydrate and fat are used by the body, which is why Gatorade uses the motto ‘Rehydrate, Replenish, Refuel'. He shocked us by explaining that dehydration causes a 2-3% drop in body weight during exercise and subsequently fatigue, so impairing performance.

He placed a big focus on the individual aspect of hydration of which I could relate to well. We will all sweat at different rates and require different amounts of carbohydrate and electrolytes depending on how our bodies are conditioned and the activity that we are doing. Recently, I changed from drinking water to trying a bottle of energy drink on my Sunday club bike ride and felt significantly stronger, avoiding the dreaded ‘bonk'. Adrian's colleague Matt Evans followed up on this explaining that keeping your body well fuelled is all about preparation. If you arrive at a session or race dehydrated then you are already setting yourself up at a disadvantage. Just making sure you've drank enough water during the day to keep your body in a state of ‘euhydration' can give you that extra edge over a dehydrated competitor straight away. Unfortunately I found that coffee did not count as hydrating myself before a bike ride!

After taking all that information in, it was time to put it into practice. The Gatorade guys announced that we would be doing a Watt Bike session, including pre session ‘weigh-ins' and ‘urine tests' to test how well we were hydrating ourselves during the workout. Being ‘media' and not a competition winner, I managed to avoid the ‘peeing in a pot' and analysis of my hydration...I don't like to sound negative but I knew what the result would probably be so I slinked past the queue at the scales and left it to the competition winners to undergo that experience.

Watt Bikes are essentially the same as Spin bikes, however they also have advanced functions to monitor the power you put through each pedal stroke, how fluid your pedal action is, cadence and heart rate. Sat on our bikes with water bottles and sweat towels at the ready, we were then introduced to Paralympic track cyclists Neil Fachie and Jon-Allan Butterworth. Neil won two gold medals at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships, Jon-Allan currently holds two World Records and both are part of the GB Team for London 2012.

Gatorade Secret BikeWe started off with a half an hour ‘warm-up', increasing our cadence gradually and concentrating on a strange shaped graph on the screen that apparently showed I was typical of triathletes who usually don't pull up enough with their hamstrings when they pedal. Just as I started to spin my legs thinking we'd finished, the Coach said ‘right, time for the main set!'. Time to gulp down some Gatorade I think and help my poor legs through the rest of the session. At that moment I was feeling as if I could do with a little bit more motivation, then I saw a flash of red, white and blue walk in front of us. Long brown hair tied back, strong looking legs and a red smiling face from just finishing training, do you need any more clues? Victoria Pendleton had come to say hello and take a few photos with us. Speaking as if she knew us, the whole group were in awe suddenly feeling embarrassed at our tiredness after just half an hour. Bring on the main set!

Gatorade Secret Bike

It was ten lots of one minute sprints, upping our cadence to 115rpm. I've only been back cycling properly for a few months so whilst my endurance is back in being able to complete long rides, usually aided by coffee and cake at the end, my leg muscles and strength are still developing. Pretty painful doesn't even come close to what my muscles were subjected too. Apparently the GB Cycling Team do that set three more times through! Thank goodness we were offered coffee and biscuits during the Q&A session as that along with taking on a decent amount of Gatorade sorted me out, however I was definitely regretting my decision of commuting here.

The competition winners then got the chance for a Q&A with Neil and Jon-Allen, so I hung on for a quick video interview with Jon. Neil Fachie managed to avoid our camera, however when asked in the Q&A for his best tip to budding cyclists, he said that the most important thing is to enjoy it. There arose a common theme throughout the day of how important it is to enjoy the sport that you do.

We were lucky enough to receive some great advice from Gatorade who focus on making great tasting products that are easy to drink, inspiring friendly speeches from London 2012 Medal Hopefuls Victoria Pendleton, Neil & John and I along with the others got a lot out it, especially given that I know I have inadequately fuelled my body in the past during my training.

So although it is a shame that we couldn't tempt Neil & Jon-Allen to give Paratriathlon a go, it obviously wouldn't match their love for cycling. It was great to experience such a unique training day in a fantastic venue and fingers crossed, my legs will appreciate it...maybe in another day or two.


You can find out more about Gatorade, including the new G Series Pro range via their webiste: www.gatorade.co.uk.

The Virgin Active London Triathlon Secret Series

  • The Speedo Secret Swim: VIDEO (featuring Keri-Anne Payne)
  • The Gatorade Secret Bike: VIDEO / REPORT (featuring Paralympian Jon-Allen Butterworth)
  • The Maxifuel Secret Kitchen: VIDEO (featuring Masterchef finalists Andrew Kojima and Tom Rennolds)
  • The Virgin Active Secret Fast Class: VIDEO (featuring Lois Rosindale)
  • The Skechers Performance Secret Run: VIDEO (featuring Lucy Hall and Sophia Warner)

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