Bianchi Dama are a semi-professional women's performance cycling team based in Somerset. Their name comes from their main sponsor, Bianchi bikes, and Dama, the Italian word for lady. They compete in the National Women's Road Series, racing against the likes of Dame Sarah Storey. The team is made up of 9 athletes, (Alex Sheehan, Jess Duffy, Sarah King, Emma Cockcroft, Bethan Stubbs, Becky Womersley, Bethany Taylor, Georgie Panchaud and Charlotte Colclough) having recently expanded at the beginning of 2018 and coached by Dave Walters.
Active Root are proud to be Bianchi Dama's hydration sponsor and wish them the best of luck in 2018!
Photo credits: John_orbea_cam
The team were recently racing at the Lincolnshire Grand Prix, where Will caught up with team member Emma Cockroft, who was ranked 10th in the UK for road cycling last year, to chat about nutrition, training and general racing tips.
Do you have a specific nutrition strategy on race day?
"Races are normally in the morning so a high carbed breakfast, normally porridge, banana, obviously a coffee as well. And then maybe an hour or so beforehand another sort of bar or banana, so another sort of carbohydrate snack. Then, get cracking and take gels on every hour or so, but then sometimes you can neglect it during the race if something is kicking off. I quite often suffer with cramps and know if I've not taken on enough gels or liquid as my legs start cramping up, which is never nice.
"(During the race) maybe about 500ml of water with carbohydrate in it and then like a gel on top of that. So about 50-60g (of carbohydrate), per hour. I should probably take more, but i'm not great at it at the moment!"
This season we're providing the team with Active Root, could you tell us a little bit about that?
"It's really good. Some carbohydrate drinks are a bit sweet and a bit heavy, but (Active Root), is easier to stomach I find and i'm a big fan of ginger taste as well and I don't know if it's down to it but I didn't get cramp today and everything else was the same but I was having Active Root rather than flat coke."
Do you have any advice as to healthy eating and keeping fuelled, or any specific rituals who follow?
"Whatever works for you, don't get to hung up on the advice that comes on the back of packages or bottles. If you've got a strategy that works then roll with it, don't be afraid to change it and try new things. Not for an important race though!
"I'm not really a creature of habit. I know some athletes are, they'll do exactly the same thing leading up to a race, but my life and job kind of get in the way of having too much routine. But I think about having decent foods, like pasta and carb dishes, plenty on fruit and veg and less snacking a few days before, so i'm not like, full of biscuits."
How many years have you been racing for Bianchi?
"Four years, but I used to be a competitive rower for maybe five or six years before that, so although I haven't maybe cycled the same, I've been in a sporting environment for much longer. But the nutrition for rowing you didn't really have to think about because it was an eight minute race and you'd just get it in beforehand you don't have to think about it during."
Do you have a particular session that you fear or hate?
"There's an absolutely savage one, well it's not as savage as you think but I fear it every time and then i do the first interval and then i'm like na, this is okay. This is on the turbo normally, so it's variable blocks. But the first block is the hardest bit of the session, so once that's done it's okay, but I always fear that five minutes and if you do it on the turbo there's no excuses for hills or descents that are getting in the way of your power, it's just you versus your number."
Do you have a favourite route?
"I get teased for it, but there's a route called Diggerland. It's like a thirty six mile loop and I know it takes between an hour and half and two hours. If i'm doing it before work or I've only got a certain amount of time it's a really nice one to do as I know it only takes that certain amount of time but I do it so often I get teased- but I don't care."
What does your weekly training schedule look like?
"Monday it's usually post race, so about an hour and a half just spinning the legs out and then maybe a session on Tuesday. If I don't have a race the weekend after i'll do some strength and conditioning and get in the gym and do some squats. Maybe two or three hard sessions a week then some longer miles on the weekend if i'm not racing and the rest of it just filling. I like to go for a swim and stretch when I can."
Do you have any superstitions or rituals when it comes to racing?
"My ritual used to be not to wear long socks, but it's not the done thing so I've bowed to peer pressure and started wearing long socks, but yeah I always have to have a bit of orange on me whether it's socks, shoes, bottles, garmin mount, something has to be orange. (Active Root) Can be my bit of orange."
Any advice for riding in peletons?
"Just to get out their and try it. I think it can sometimes be a bit of a scary concept racing in a bunch of a hundred and fifty odd people, but you need to just get out there and give it a go."
Do you ride to a certain cadence?
"Not necessarily cadence, I work a lot to power. So you know what you're capable of holding, based on training and testing so you know if you go over it you're going to blow at some point soon. But when you're in a bunch and you're fighting to stay on and you kind of neglect that, so you'd only really think about your bike computer if you were out the front on your own, otherwise you just do what you do to be there."
Bianchi Dama will be racing throughout the summer at the HSBC National Women's Road Series. Dates found here:
If you want to keep up to date with them online, follow the links below: