My Secret Training: Gruff Lewis Cyclo-cross is his go to winter session

What is Gruff Lewis’ secret training? What’s his go to session that never fails in the depths of winter? We ask him and find out…

“After a long season, the last thing a lot of pros want to do is race some more – but I’m a glutton for punishment and love to get stuck into the cyclo-cross season.

“Getting a new bike out, racing on a different surface – it feels like a different sport which is great for keeping motivation levels high.

Gruff Lewis' 2017 Genesis Vapour carbon cyclo-cross bike
One of Gruff's big motivations for racing cross is that he get a shiny new bike - you can see why when it's a nice as the Genesis Vapour CX!

“I’ll start out with a few local league events and if I’m feeling good, I’ll progress to racing the National Championships in January.

“The whole scene is very grass roots; you show up, take your number, check out the course, line up for the race and do your best.

“Usually there are a large number of riders across a wide range of abilities, which means you’re always chasing or being chased and it’s a real community of riders who will be there week in, week out.

“As an added bonus, getting out in the wet and mud is seen as part of it, so there’s no weather watching, or dreading intervals on the turbo.

“It’s my secret to training hard and keeping a smile on my face all winter long.”

Gruff Lewis gets his cyclo-cross racing fix - it's his secret training

Tim Lawson’s take – Owner, Secret Training
“Cyclo-cross is a great way to stay fit over winter and keep focused during what is for many the party season. It’s high intensity workout that includes a technical element and there are local leagues across the country to give you that competitive fix.

“Usually you can fit in two short, sharp sessions per week – many clubs run mid-week training drills where you can develop your skills before racing at the weekend.

“It goes without saying that cross is great for keeping some of that hard-earned race sharpness over the winter – or developing it.

“There’s no taking it easy in cross – running up banks, sprinting out of corners, putting down the power through mud or testing your bike handling on steep cambers – it’s a great way to train intensely without needing a tick-list of efforts to complete.

Gruff Lewis' heart rate file from Crosstober Wales, shows the intensity cyclo-cross racing demands
Gruff's race file from Crosstober shows exactly why you need to be aware of burnout when adding cyclo-cross to your winter training mix - it's seriously tough!

“It is however, important to keep things in perspective and ensure you do not compromise your summer goals by chasing results in events you were intending to use only for preparation.

“Perhaps best of all my six-year-old daughter seems to have taken to cyclo-cross races and although I am resisting the temptation to start racing ‘because I’m there anyway’, one parent did point out that the family nature of many events can be a diplomatic way for dad to indulge in his sport.”

THE SCIENCE BIT
Madison Genesis are fuelled by the science of STEALTH sports nutrition products. Gruff is never without a 75mg caffeine gel ahead of a race to keep him alert.

Gruff also uses STEALTH’s watermelon energy drink. The neutral pH keeps his glycogen stores high and stomach settled.

Gruff Lewis of Madison Genesis uses STEALTH caffeine gels and watermelon energy drink

Tim says: “While cross is a great way to stay fit during the winter often the nutrition on offer for a post exercise snack is far from optimal. Whilst it is always good to support the vendors supporting your races some thought to post exercise nutrition will pay dividends in the months ahead.”

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