Managing time to fit in training can be one of the biggest barriers to progression. Work and family commitments are often at odds with reaching peak levels of fitness, and it’s no wonder that professional athletes from all sports have to take extended periods of time away from their home environment to achieve their potential.On the flip side, they will then then spend many months of the year in the off-season back at home, reprioritising.

As the weather improves, this is the time of year where the cyclist that can train the smartest will see the biggest gains heading in to race season. 


I've transitioned from being a full time competitive cyclist to focussing on running a business, and being a family man too. As you can imagine, there are times when my priorities clash.

However, with as little as 6-8 hours a week available to train, it is possible to progress and reach a strong level of fitness. In this range you can still perform at a high level with consistent quality. If you have less than 6 hours available, you will have to concede a little on your expectations.

To really get the best out of yourself on low training volume:

  1. Focus on high intensity, structured workouts
  2. Do fewer slower 'base miles' or rides where you are in fat burning’ zones for extended periods of time 
  3. Don't worry about recovery rides 


A key thing to remember with training sessions as a whole is the more sessions you can fit in per week, the better. But when it comes to the individual sessions themselves, less is more.

For example, in a busy week it is much more efficient to fit in 4 x 1 hour sessions than a 1 x 4 hour session. This is obviously a much more simplified version of a structured training plan, but shorter, high frequency of workouts, (where you push yourself harder than you would in a longer session) are key to progressing quickly. 


By planning detailed sessions in advance, you'll waste minimal time and remove the decision making process around which session to do that day. Coaches are also a great solution for athletes with busy schedules. A good coach will help you to optimise every hour you have available to ride your bike. They will provide specific training plans and structured workouts that focus on short hard efforts, an often include sessions completed on a turbo trainer.

If you usually suffer from boredom on the turbo, then pair these sessions with Zwift - the interactivity and social aspects of the platform will give you a new lease of indoor training life.

Although indoor sessions are a great way to get the quality of training you need, as an overall rule, it's best to mix indoor training efforts with high-intensity road rides, to achieve the best results. 


Below is an 8 week plan which will build you up to a peak level of fitness. It's meant as a guide rather than an explicit plan, so will require tailoring depending on your fitness and goals. 

Week 1

Design a broad set of training exercises to assess levels of fitness over multiple time periods - from max sprint power short bursts to 20min max efforts, and a range in between. Assess these over a number of rides. The purpose is to log levels of power alongside perceived effort to provide a benchmark for where you are at. We will come back to revisit these again later in the program. 

Weeks 2-4

With the learning from week one, we can now work out the basic levels and zones you need to create a structured program which will provide the most gains.

I would hold back slightly from going all out at this stage. Make sure you are working hard during sessions with a bit of build up over these weeks Don't go into full max efforts repeatedly right from the off.

Maximum effort sessions should be included sparingly and with good recovery periods before and after. Consistency is one of the most essential factors to progressive fitness gains. Staying steady and consistent in your training will guard you against pushing too hard and getting ill and needing to take time off - which ultimately will result in a loss of fitness.

Week 5-7

Step up the intensity and volume to take you to what you initially believed to be your max, then go a bit further and overreach. By these weeks you can throw in sessions where you work at 105-115% of power you assessed in week one. Paired with decent recover these kind of over-max sessions will form the foundation of fitness progress.

This period of training should be hard and will without a doubt make you tired. Carefully designed intervals sessions should be included that ask slightly more of you then you originally thought possible. 

Week 8

This week should focus on tapering, with a couple of carefully positioned max efforts. You can repeat the interval sessions from week one, and get a goo insight into the progress you've made.

A good training program should allows make the training gains visible, you increase in power and fitness should be obvious and easy to identify. For performance minded individuals, this helps a huge amount with motivation. Recognising how much you have improved will fuel your motivation for the next phase of training. 


If you are more experienced, then you can ditch week one and move straight into weeks 2-7. Create 2 cycles of weeks 2-7 before moving on to week 8, because you already have a good understanding of your base level of fitness. I would always include an element of week 8 and review fitness of specific interval tests on well-known sections of road to help identify improvements. No matter how experienced you are, benchmarking your progress is always important. 


There's a collection of really useful indoor training sessions on British Cycling's website here and you can also find really structured and useful training guides and workouts on Zwift. 

I'd love to hear how you manage your training schedule, what your barriers are and where you find the biggest successes in training. Comment below and let me know. 

Happy training,

March 29, 2018 by Yanto Barker

How to optimize indoor training to kick-start your season

Winter and early spring can be a hard time to progress on fitness because there are some fairly big family celebrations that can distract you from your performance focus. Plus, if you live and ride in Northern Europe, the weather is also often far from ideal. However it's possible to improve your fitness with valuable sessions that will contribute to achieving your goals without being very antisocial or getting cold and wet on every ride!

An indoor turbo can be a really useful way to maintain good condition over relatively short sessions. They are also places where you can put in bursts of high inetnsity work with no disruptions (something that's useful year round).

Indoor sessions can be tailored to meet your requirements, and are suited to any ability. There is no worry about being 'dropped' at a club turbo session for example, it's about going at the pace that's right for you, which ultimately means you'll get the most out of every session. 


Zwift has transformed indoor training where you can ‘ride’ with friends or even race to help entertain you from the monotony of old fashioned turbo sessions. My advice for Zwift sessions is:

  1. Keep your sessions structured. Both within each session, but also have some overall structure to the sessions you do each week.
  2. Always give yourself a set of intervals and target power to ride at - targets give you something to aim for and a sense of satisfaction when the session is done. 
  3. Make it a ‘busy’ session with lots of challenges and things to break up the monotony, it’s easier to keep focus that way.
  4. Include high intensity V02 and sprint sessions. Zwift is the perfect place to push it to the limit. 



Setting goals can be a great way to keep you motivated and focused on these sessions.

Your goals should be based on your current levels of fitness, and should be achievable. There's no point in setting goals which leave you feeling demotivated because you never reach them! It’s best to plan your goals and targets for next year early, with progression in small steps.

The options for goal setting are almost endless, but as a basic rule it is often a good idea to make sure that the goal for each session is different from the last, whether that be a 25 minute smash up to relieve the stress from work or a session that focuses on a specific element of fitness.


Here's an outline for a session that I'll repeat a number of times through the year, and especially in the winter months.  The 'zones' refer to your 'cycling power' zones. If you are unsure of what those zones are - you can take a look at this guide here and work them out. 

Threshold Intervals - 76 minutes total

10 minutes warm- up (Zone 2)

30x30 second fast effort cadence efforts, 120rpm+ (Zone 4), with 30 seconds recovery (Zone 1) between each effort

A zone 'pyramid' of 4x5 minute lactate tolerance efforts. Consisting of:

  • 1 minute VO2 (Zone 5)
  • 1 minute threshold (Zone 4)
  • 1 minute tempo (Zone 3)
  • 1 minute threshold (Zone 4)
  • 1 minute VO2 (Zone 5)

7 minutes of recovery (Zone 1) between each effort above

5 minutes cool down (Zone 1)

I hope that helps you get going on your indoor training, and sets you up for a great season on the road. 
March 05, 2018 by Yanto Barker


Fuelling your body in the right way is essential to any endurance ride, and the fitter you become the more important it is to get right. So we asked our Le Col founder, Yanto Barker to lend us over twenty years of his experience on what to eat, and when. 


The stronger and fitter you are, the faster you'll burn through the fuel that you're putting into your body. And that means you're likely to run out of fuel faster, and feel it more acutely when you do. 

If you're planning to ride for over 90 minutes, you should be looking to fuel yourself both before, during and after that, if you want to get the most out of it. Fuelling correctly will help you reap the benefits from your training - something which is called training ‘assimilation’, and is significantly effected by fuelling correctly. If you finish a hard workout and fuel correctly, then your body will be able to assimilate the benefits of that session. However if you fuel badly and run out of energy, or do not refuel after the ride you could potentially only reap half the benefit, or less, of that workout. That means, if you're not fuelling correctly - you may as well have just done half the ride!

There's also something to be said for the beneift that fuelling yourself well has on your immune system. Get it wrong and you might blow out on your ride and put it under unnecessary strain.  


On longer rides I used to fuel on solid food such as flapjack, or bananas as opposed to quick fixes like gels or energy drink (usually eaten because you've left it too late to start eating). The rationale for me was with solid food it takes longer to digest and extract the calories, so you need to think about eating earlier in a ride.

If you use a power meter for training you will be able to see a drop off in performance before you feel like you have blown, and most will have experienced suddenly feeling light headed or having slightly blurry vision - these are key signs you are low on energy. Luckily this is an easy problem to solve. By starting the day with foods with a low glycemic index like an oat porridge or muesli, and then fuelling throughout the ride, you are giving your body a head start. Also make sure you include a bit of protein in your breakfast for a optimal balance.

For those of you who race it is a good idea to discipline yourself to practice eating whilst riding, so that it becomes second nature and you know how your body will react to these foods. 


Fasted rides are often included into training as a great way to lose weight, improve your efficiency or utilise fat as an energy source. However these type of rides should be treated with caution. One of the main things you must remember on faster rides is to keep the intensity and duration low, if you don’t, you will deplete your limited glycogen stores and you will struggle to process fat as an energy source fast enough for what is required. This method shouldn't be used for anything other than a short spin, and only completed no more than twice a week but can be extremely successful if implemented properly. 


Having said all that, I have run out of energy and food many times on rides, mostly when I was younger, but it happened right into the back end of my career as well.

When I was a junior I used to go out on our Mid Devon club run with some really strong Elites and Pros, we had a good strong group. The only problem was I used to ride 30mins to meet them and then have to ride that same 30mins home after we finished, and it was almost always a tail wind to meet the guys and a head wind home on my own. I must have ‘blown’ almost every week for a whole winter of training and had to struggle back home. I'd always be wishing that I had taken more food with me, or more money to stop at a café or service station, but I was poor back then and rarely carried money, or a tube, or pump, or rain cape and it was before mobiles. In real emergencies I'd have to reverse the call charges to my mum! 


Lastly on this, do not underestimate the importance of hydration on cold rides, just because you are not sweating does not mean you are not getting dehydrated. In the winter losing fluid is often linked to breathing, in the cold when you can see your breath, that is the moisture leaving your body with every breath. If you’re working out intensely you are losing significant amounts of moisture from the body each hour without sweating at all and this will effect performance and recovery. 

Safe miles, 

February 12, 2018 by Yanto Barker
Yanto's Pro Guide: What to wear for Autumn

Yanto's Pro Guide: What to wear for Autumn

Autumn is all about changeable weather and temperature - days that start cold and get warm as the sun comes up, rain that sweeps in unexpectedly, and darker evenings which leave you finishing your ride in cooler conditions, in lower light. There’s a lot to think about in autumn, and finding the right combination of kit to keep you warm, dry and comfortable is no mean feat.

One of the main things that autumn kit needs to deliver on is versatility. Versatility is a key consideration in our design process, as we think about how to design a garment that can be removed and carried easily at different times on the same ride. Things like; arm warmers, leg warmers, gilets, Therma jerseys, Therma shorts and rain capes - they all need to be packable and light at the same time as thermal and waterproof.

With that in mind, here are the five key items I’d recommend for your wardrobe this autumn:

1. Therma Jersey

I love this jersey. I have raced many cold races in it and I always feel like it’s got my back. It keeps my core cocooned in a little warm protective capsule, even in the harshest conditions, while at the same time not making me overheat.

This jersey was designed to be fully thermal and waterproof using our special 4 way stretch bonded Leonard (therma tex) material. This means this garment can keep you warm while remaining thin enough to fit easily in your standard jersey pocket – ideal if you need to take it off mid ride.

Recommended: the Le Col Therma Jersey here.

Le Col Therma Jersey

2. Long Sleeve Jersey

A long sleeve jersey is perfect for autumn mornings when you know it’s set to stay cooler for most of the day. Those kind of days mean that you can put on a long sleeve without a fear that you might overheat. In our Aqua Zero long sleeve, the material is very breathable, soft and warm on the inside, so it works with your exercise intensity to balance temperature out during the course of a ride.

A long sleeve Jersey can be used in combination with a number of other garments like short or long-sleeved undervests, Gilets and Therma jerseys - to cater for more inclement weather. It’s also a good idea to select a long sleeve jersey which has large pockets, so that you can carry everything you need on long varied climate rides.

Recommended: The Aqua Zero Long Sleeve

Le Col Aqua Zero long sleeved jersey

3. Therma Gilet

A gilet is designed to be a simple solution to keeping the core of your body warm. If it’s made of thermal and waterproof fabric (like our Therma gilet), then it’ll be perfect for trapping heat where you need it most, while remaining a light and packable garment.

I’d recommended that you never leave the house without either a gilet or something like a Therma jersey, as they will just give you that extra level of security during rides that you may find colder or wetter than planned.

It’s perfect for the start of a ride, while you’re warming up and building your body temperature. Or equally it’s a great item to pull on at the top of a climb, to keep the body temperature even as you descend. It then can re-packed into your pocket for the rest of the ride.

Recommended: The Therma Gilet

4. Rain Cape

This is a serious bit of kit. A good rain cape is designed to be waterproof, and should feature fully waterproof (not showerproof) and breathable material, taped seams, high neck, long sleeves and a long drop-down tail to guard against road spray. 

Including these kinds of features mean that some brands design a product too bulky to fit in your pocket, but the reality is you rarely use a rain cape for an entire ride, especially in the autumn when rain is less of a serious concern – so it’s important to buy a rain cape that can be packed away.

Our version of the rain cape, has all the above considerations and can be folded up to fit in your pocket when not needed. 


5. Arm and Leg Warmers

Arm and leg warmers are an important set of items in anyone’s wardrobe, and especially at this time of year. They are perfect to take on and off throughout a ride, and can be easily stowed when not in use.

They can be worn with summer jerseys, Therma jerseys and also used in conjunction with long sleeves and jackets when the weather gets even colder. Contrary to what you may think, arm warmers can be worn very effectively with winter jackets to help keep your hands warm when it gets colder in deeper winter. For now though, they are a great transition garment for autumnal climes.

Recommended: Le Col Arm warmers and Le Col Leg Warmers

Le Col Arm Warmers


I hope that's helped you make a few wardrobe decisions for the season ahead,

Happy riding,


October 04, 2017 by Yanto Barker
Making The Transition: From Road Racing to Time Trialling

Making The Transition: From Road Racing to Time Trialling

I started road racing in 2015 with about a year's worth experience of cycling in my legs. Without mentioning the dreaded T-word, my bike experience up until that point was often sandwiched in between a swim and a run, with a few costume changes. I’d conquered the world of multisport (well, the regional world) and it was time to discriminate. Obviously I picked bikes.

All of a sudden I found myself on a strange quest to find my one true cycling discipline. I was certain that I would definitely-possibly-maybe be good at road racing. But then again, I’m more of a sprinter so perhaps I’d be better at track? Although, I do quite like cross-country running so there’s potential in cyclocross, right?! Sigh.

Much as I would have loved to test out all the aviable disciplines, I had to consider the diminishing free space in the garage. And so, In typical fashion, I picked none of the above and opted to go for time trialling - a discipline which I am not particularly suited to, but one that I was curious about.

Where I come from (Essex), time trialling is a pretty big deal. We may only have one hill, but we boast quite a few of the fastest and flattest courses in the country. I was especially motivated to find out more about the event affectionately referred to as ‘The Race of Truth’. Was there more to time trialling than donning a strange pointy hat, and contorting yourself into as aero a position as your hips and back will allow, I wondered?

Image: Davey Jones

In those early days, I made a lot of mistakes. And in the hope to help others avoid those mistakes, here a re a list of things I wish I’d known before I began my obsession with aero-position and Watt output:


In a road race scenario, there’s a lot of concentration involved, so it’s quite nice that there are other people around who you can chat to and a race that changes pace so often. Switch to a time trial and there’s no one. In fact, you actively hope you don’t see anyone else (particularly coming past you) for the entire race. Not just that but by definition your pace will hopefully stay constant, leaving time to contemplate the meaning of life or what you’re going to do for the rest of the weekend. Time trialling is more than just a physical discipline - keep your mind on task and you’re bound to go far.


Namely new saddles, tweaked positions and dodgy overshoes. This is something that most people won’t need to be told, but occasionally some of us need a gentle reminder. A great cyclist once said that time trialling is both an exact science and an art form - which means that every new item of clothing or minor change to your setup should really be tested several times (with all wattage gains meticulously recorded in your spreadsheet of aero-ness).

And a race is not the place to try out the effectiveness of new shoe covers, because Murphy’s Law dictates that one of them will undo itself regularly over the 25 miles despite numerous attempts at re-zipping.

Image: Davey Jones


This is completely self-explanatory, but coming from a road racing background, I was spoilt. We usually have an entire convoy and a lead car to follow, right from outside the race headquarters to the start of the race. This ensures: 1) You don’t get lost; and 2) You all get there at the same time or at least on time. 

Time trials aren’t like that and whilst most of them start quite close to the HQ, others are several miles away. When you factor in a decreased ability to function at the unsociable hour time trials tend to start, then you may be left with 20 minutes to ride 7 miles before you realise that you haven’t pinned on your number or gulped down your gel. And there is not only the embarrassment of turning up late to contend with… they actually add this margin of tardiness onto your official course time! There is quite an obvious moral to that story.


Learn everything you can about the course you’re riding. If you’re the kind of rider whose idea of a road race recon is the first lap, you’ll soon discover that time trials aren’t as forgiving.

Everything that can save seconds will do, which means that knowing every lump, bump and turn of the course is super important. Not only will you become obsessed with gradients, but your knowledge of all things weather and wind direction will become second to only a meteorological expert. Websites like are brilliant at taking some of the stress away, and they link in with Strava!

All this knowledge helps you work out when you can afford a quick recovery and when you need to be putting in a bit more effort. 


At the end of the day, time trialing comes down to whether you have the ability to exert more power than the next person consistently over a certain distance, taking into account a few variables. Or, if you’re measuring your performance against your previous results, whether you are stronger than you were last week.

The best thing about time trialling – apart from going as fast as you can - is that you can compete against the top cyclists in the country or you can simply compete against yourself.

As you progress in the time trialling world and become more experienced, you will naturally want to upgrade all your equipment. But if you’re trying it out for the first time there’s nothing stopping you from turning up on your road bike, with no assistance from the God of all things aero. That way, you can add to your arsenal slowly and watch your times tumble gradually as you gain that elusive freespeed!

Article written by Time-Trial expert in residence, Lauren Kirchel

Image: Davey Jones

September 06, 2017 by Anna McNuff
Yanto's Guide to: Socks

Yanto's Guide to: Socks

Let me start by saying that I LOVE socks. Genuinely, as a young amateur based in France with very limited funds and kit I used to save new socks as a treat. Something to help me feel special on certain days or for big races. They really were, and still are, a hugely important part of any cyclist’s outfit. And from a style point of view – if you find just the right pair of socks – they can really bring everything else you’re riding in together.

As a young rider there was a time when I would be gutted to have left the house on a beautifully sunny day, only to have the skies turn to dark clouds and the rain ruin a set of pristine white socks. Ones that were fresh out of the packet that morning! The shame of it. Worse than the rain would be if I hit a muddy puddle and it splashed it’s way right up to the crisp white edges around my ankle. Soul destroying!

 Yanto's Pro Guide to Socks

Thankfully, I've grown out of that now. Owning a clothing brand and having access to a LOT of socks makes me less precious about them and have largely got over my ‘sock issues’. That said, I know a lot of pro cyclists who are still very particular about their socks.

Some of my old teammates especially – on rides out with they would have pulled on a fresh pair of socks in the morning, and found that they’d shrunk in the wash. They’d get a few miles into the ride and become more and more maddened by the fact that the socks no longer ‘pulled up’ to where they were supposed to on their legs. Eventually they’d crack and turn around to get a different pair that felt ‘right’. When you’re riding day in, day out - socks are a serious business. 

Yanto's Guide to socks


It might seem odd to think that socks have gone through fashion trends – a sock is a sock after all. But in cycling there have been a couple of key changes in what is deemed ‘cool’ on the bike, and that has begun to spill into those who ride as amateurs.

In the late nineties and early thousands, there was an emerging trend of Italian riders wearing really tall, pristine white socks – while the rest of the world wore short socks. Eventually the two trends met halfway – the extra tall socks worn by the Italian Under 23 team didn’t quite go mainstream, but it did become popular to wear slightly longer socks – the established rule for pros now being that the socks should come to just below where the bulk of your calf starts.

That said, there has been a recent exception to that rule, which started in 2016. That's hen extra high 'aero' socks started to make their way into the peloton. You’ll often see these featuring strong graphics which match the team kit. These socks actually contribute to the rider performance, so they're not being worn for vanity or fashion. And if you're not the fastest in your group or team and you're wearing them - that's probably going to be asking for a kicking!

Yanto's Pro Guide to socks


I'm not exactly sure when the term ‘sock doping’ began, my guess was around 2013-14, when the phrase was coined in the southern hemisphere. It all went a bit bonkers from there on in. Specialist sock brands started popping up all over the place, on a mission to clad every rider’s ankles in bold, playful colours.

Before 2010, everyone was sticking to white socks with a simple small stripe or logo, but when sock doping took a hold, it gave rise to cartoon inspired graphics, camo designs, fluo colours, tartan… you name it, it was all going on around the ankles! Cycling socks became a blank canvas for people to express their personality, and everyone began to try to out-do one another, moving to progressively more creative and crazy designs.

Yanto's Guide to socks

In recent years the desire to have bold coloured socks has coincided with the rise in popularity of bold patterns on cycling kit (which we’re a big fan of at Le Col), and even bright shoes and helmets too. That does mean that a cyclist needs to think a little more carefully when pulling together an outfit, or they run the risk looking like a kid’s sweet shop riding down the road. So you can see why it’s more common for cyclists to have different shoes, helmets and sunglasses these days - to make sure things match. As always, the general advice is – go loud and bright in one area only. Bright socks should equal plain kit, and if you’ve got plain socks you can go wilder on the kit.

I could go on about socks forever, really I could - but I’ll leave you with my one final thought on whatever style, colour or design you choose – ride like a pro and keep those socks clean, always!

August 31, 2017 by Yanto Barker
Tags: socks
Yanto's Pro Guide to: Cycling Shoes

Yanto's Pro Guide to: Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes are a nice way to add a bit of sparkle to your outfit. It could be something to do with the kind of material that they are made of, but I like to think of them like dancing shoes. They’re smart, shiny and offer a chance for you to show off some personality and attitude.

Admittedly this was more true in years gone by, when cycling kit was plainer than it is now. If you’re wearing plain kit then you can get away with shoes that are as loud and as brash as you like. Nowadays, cycling kit has now moved on in design, and there are more colours flying around - so you might want to be a bit more cautious in your shoe selection.

A Pro Guide to: Cycling Shoes - by Le Col

What should your shoes match?

The first rule of choosing a cycling shoe style and design is that it should (at worst) compliment the rest of your outfit, and (at best) do a good job of bringing it all together. At a minimum, you should aim for your shoes to match your helmet and /or glasses. I have a friend, let’s call him Curly Dan, who owns 3 bikes, 3 helmets and 12 pairs of shoes. Naturally he chooses whichever pair of shoes match the bike and helmet he’s using that day.

Curly Dan is one of the most well turned out people I have ever seen on a bike, everyone is impressed when he rocks up for a ride. He also smells amazing (thanks to whatever he’s using to wash his kit), but that’s another story….

Even if you don’t have the budget to ‘do it like Dan’ you can still make an effort to match your shoes with your bike and kit. A white shoe is the most versatile all-round colour to go for, and it’s guaranteed to match whatever you’re riding in. That said, if you’re wearing white shoes, they’ve got to be clean. Dirty white is never a good look.

Black shoes used to be a no-no, but in recent years have become more acceptable, probably linked to the fact that there's bright kit readily available. If you're brightly clad on your top half, the shoes can be toned down so that not every inch of your body is competing to shout the loudest. The added bonus with black shoes is that they also don’t show up the dirt quite so badly.

A Pro Guide: To Cycling Shoes

Straps, fasteners, laces or ratchets?

How your foot is held in place during the ride is another important point to consider when you’re buying shoes. I have seen guys get left behind on a club run because they’ve stopped to re-tie their lace up shoes.  

The other downside to laces is that if you get the tension slightly wrong in one area of the foot, you can end up in a lot of pain for the duration of the ride. Your feet naturally swell and shrink quite a lot at different temperatures, so it’s good to be able to adjust your shoe throughout the ride.

If you're only concerned with the aesthetics of a shoe, then laces certainly look smart. I have a pair of Bont GB flag (Brad Wiggins) design that are lace ups, and I loved them for the period that I wore them. Now I use a Boa fastener however - it’s just so much more convenient and versatile for riding, and really easy to adjust on the move.

As a professional bike rider you get used to putting up with a huge amount of discomfort, you can tolerate a high level of pain, so having sore feet doesn’t make too much difference when it’s compared to the pain you are already experiencing on a regular basis in your legs. At slower speeds however, in training or on leisure rides, discomfort in your feet will be more noticeable, and has the potential to ruin what is otherwise a lovely ride.

Taking it to the next level

To round things off – let’s get personal. We all like a bit of personalisation, and some have taken this much further than just adding their initial to the sole in permanent marker.

Adam Hansen from Loto Sudal has made a business out of manufacturing personalised custom build shoes, which he uses himself in races. Interestingly, there is a UCI rule that says all kit used in races (including shoes) must be commercially available to purchase. So to find a way around this Adam has made his shoes available to purchase, but for over $1,000. I get the feeling that he’s not interested in making and selling hundreds of pairs…

At the end of the day, the type of shoes you go far is a very personal thing. It comes down to a combination of style and comfort, and a decision around whether you want to blend in or stand out from the crowd. 

 Adam Hansen Shoes - Le Col's Pro Guide to cycling shoes

August 16, 2017 by Yanto Barker
Yanto's Pro Guide to Mountain Climbing: Will It Make You, Or Break You?

Yanto's Pro Guide to Mountain Climbing: Will It Make You, Or Break You?

I often get asked what my favourite mountains to ride are, and although there were a number of great examples in last week’s blog – it goes without saying that no two rides up a mountain will ever be the same, even if you’re riding up the same mountain!


I have always found taking on a mountain climb to be quite a transformational experience – in the sense that you mature as the ride goes on. In the moment, the climb may feel like a real struggle, and you might be hard pushed to find any enjoyment in it at all. In my experience I’d go so far as to say that you might actively hate the experience of pedaling uphill for such a long period of time.

And yet, in looking back, suddenly you see the joy in it all. You understand that the mountain offered you an opportunity to face down and overcome a significant challenge, and that challenge gave you the chance to be a stronger rider. Yes, it hurt a lot, but it gave you a lot in return – and I’d say that’s a fair trade for any day out on a bike. 

Yanto Barker - The Mentality of climbing mountains


Not only do mountains make or break each man, they can also make or break friendships. I remember a friend of mine who recalled that when he took on the Etape de Tour one year, it was both the best his best and worst day he’d had on a bike, ever. He said that he’d witnessed grown men crying at the side of the road, in agony through cramp and exhaustion – unable to carry on.

On the last col of the day in that particular year, my friend was making his way up the Hautacam. He passed another rider at the side of the road, who had all but given up. This other rider insisted that he didn’t have the strength to carry on. My friend stopped his own bike, and said sternly to the guy: “Get up! C’mon! You’re not going to fail this one so close to the end.” They ended up riding the final few kilometres together, counting through pedal strokes on the last 5km, each time repeating ‘just five more strokes, just five more…’ I know that my friend is still in touch with that stranger to this day. It’s amazing that a mountain has the power to bring people together like that.

Yanto Barker - riding up Tourmalet


Something that always amazes me when you’re out on a big mountain ride is that 1km can seem like a really long way. On a mountain climb, it’s possible see 3km, 4km, or even 5km up the mountain – you never get that kind of view on a ride out on a flat road, and it starts to play tricks with your mind. When the road twists and snakes on, for what seems like an eternity above your head, it’s not unusual to think ‘Sh*t. Have I still got that far to go!?’ The whole thing can seem daunting, and it’s a mental battle not to let the mountain defeat you in that way. I remember having a similar battle when riding up the Galibier - that mountain is a monster!


As you become a more experienced rider you tend not to let those scary views get to you so much, and you’re able to be more disciplined in your approach. The focus shifts from being scared of what’s to come, to instead calculating the effort you need to produce to get up the climb. When that happens you start thinking in more detail about precisely how far there is left to go, about the speed you’re riding at and how long it is before you think you’ll make the top. It’s then that you can begin to rhythmically count down kilometres, and push on for the summit.

Yanto Barker - riding up a mountain in Le Col


Unless you’re the strongest person in the race, a mountain is never likely to be your favourite part of the ride. It’s going to hurt, but most pro riders like hurting – they have to. If a pro cyclist doesn’t embrace the hurt, then being a pro probably isn’t the right career choice. That said, when you’re on a mountain and in a lot of pain – getting dropped by the bunch is one of the most difficult things to ride through. Mentally, that’s tough.

Last year, I crashed at 70kph in a bunch sprint in the Tour of Croatia. I went down hard and lost a fair amount of skin from all areas of my body as I scraped along the ground. That crash happened the day before the big mountain of the tour, and a stage which finished with a 1,500m climb! That’s a big climb by any standards, but taking it on at a time when I was so broken - with bruising and muscle trauma - I found that I could only output 65-70% of the power I should have been able to sustain.

That lack of power meant I spent a lot of time on my own that day, and in the end I finished outside the time cutoff, and I was eliminated. I was really disappointed with myself. There were so many times when I’d wanted to just stop and get off the bike, but I’d ploughed on. To get to the finish and realise that it was all for nothing – it cracked me. That was one of my hardest days on a bike.


My favourite time to ride up mountains is actually during training. I’ve done many training camps in my career and one that stands out was last year in the Alpes, when we were staying at Isola 2000. We had fantastic weather, and selected routes which took us on long, sweeping climbs along smaller, quieter back roads. Quite often there was no traffic at all as we pushed on through the day, climbing for an hour at a time in a small bunch of six riders.

That was one of the most rewarding weeks of riding I can remember, hanging out with a really cool bunch of guys and riding spectacular roads. It helped that we were all riding at a similar level, so no one could really dish it out too much. I’m sure that contributed to everyone having a good time. On that day I remember thinking ‘This the best job in the world - to get paid to do this!’

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July 18, 2017 by Yanto Barker
Ones to watch in this year's Tour de France

Ones to watch in this year's Tour de France

With the start of the tour comes a huge amount of excitement and anticipation. Many of the riders taking part have raced a lot already this season, but as always the Tour is the big one, and it's the one that really counts.

Fresh from the National Champs

The Tour always starts just one week after the National Road Race Championships have taken place. This means that many riders aren’t in their usual kit, but instead are riding out in their National Champs jerseys, making it even harder to work out who is who in the bunch.

Arnaud Demare (riding for for Francais De Jeux) is one of the major names to look out for in this year’s Tour. He’s certain to feature in many of the bunch sprints throughout the three weeks of competition. Fabio Aru (riding for Team Astana) is also in good form, coming into the tour off the back of a strong performance in the Criterium De Dauphine. And definitely watch out for our very own Steve Cummings. With a record ITT and Road Race double title under his belt, he’ll be proudly riding in the British Champs jersey. He’s certain to feature in breakaways and will likely take a British stage win. In between the breaks, look out for Steve sitting in the back of the bunch – his customary position when not challenging up the front.

Yanto Barker's picks for the Tour de France

Others to keep an eye on

Other exciting names to keep an eye on include Richie Porte - who enters the tour as favourite in the General Clasification. He and Chris Froome have a bit of rift to settle after the Criterium De Dauphine, where Froome rode against him - significantly aiding Jacob Fuglsang in winning the race that day. Incidentally, Jacob Fugulsang is also one to watch and will definitely feature in the GC standings.

Over the past few years, Dan Martin has been improving and developing as a Grand Tour contender and so you should expect to see continued progress from him this year as well. He appears to be in great form at the moment, and is certainly ready to rise to the challenge in this year’s race.

Predictably, Peter Sagan will be hard to beat on certain stages. He too seems to be on good form coming into this years race and is a prime contender again for the overall green jersey.

Yanto Barker's picks for the Tour de France

In the breakaway

Keep an eye out for Jasper Stuyven. He was 3rd in the Belgian National Champs and really knows how to ride the breaks. And if he can build on his debut tour last year, Dan McClay should feature heavily in the bunch sprints alongside the big boys. Lastly, after a fantastic stage win in the last few days of the Giro, Pierre Rolland should also be up there in the intermediate mountain stages, and in the breakaways. 

The Young Gun to watch

On a final personal note it's great to see so many brits in the field, spread across a number of different teams - including with one of my old teammates from last year Dion Smith, (riding for Wanty Group). He is a proper legend and a really tough kid - look out for him in the breaks between the high mountains.

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P.s ride like a pro this tour season in our summer Pro Air Jersey

Yanto's Pro Guide to: Sunglasses

Yanto's Pro Guide to: Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an important accessory for any cyclist. They are one of the first things you notice when someone turns up for a ride, and have been a coveted accessory for many years, as long as I can remember anyway. There are a lot of different brands out there who make sunglasses, but unfortunately very few brands who make truly great glasses. My two top picks are Oakley and Salice.

Is there a ‘right’ way to wear sunglasses for cycling?

In my opinion the answer is always yes! Glasses should always be worn straight with arms over helmet straps. This is to keep helmet straps tight against the head and stop them flapping in the wind - creating extra noise and drag. You should definitely give your glasses a good clean before the ride too, you wouldn’t turn up to work with dirty shoes, so why not give your weekend ride the same level of respect?

BIKE Channel Canyon in their Le Col Custom Kit and Salice sunglasses

Cycling sunglasses and style

I’m a stickler for making sure you look as stylish as possible while out on the bike, and in an ideal world, your sunglasses should always match your kit. That said, having a drawer full of sunglasses isn’t for everyone, so if you’re just going for one pair then standard black or white frames look good with pretty much everything.

There was a period through last year when old-style glasses were really in back fashion, like the Oakley Heritage Edition for example. But that period was pretty short lived. More recently, I’ve noticed that multi-colour camo or paint spatter frames are popular, likely because there are number of different colours in the design, and so they go with a wide variety of kit styles. Personally I’m a huge fan of these more ‘out there’ multi-coloured styles – and they compliment the type of designs we like to work to at Le Col, including our Anti-camo and Battleship jerseys.

Le Col Women's cycling jersey

What type of lenses should you go for in cycling sunglasses?

Just as with the frame colours, there’s a lot of choice when it comes to lenses too. Before deciding on what lenses to go for, it’s a good idea to have a think about where you might actually be wearing your glasses.

Iridium Lenses

Iridium lenses are the top-dollar choice. They eliminate much more light, and most importantly 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC light. The added bonus is that they look great too. These technical benefits and style mean that you’ll pay more for an iridium lens – so if you’re looking for glasses to go with your second-hand commuter bike, and riding in kit that’s a few years old – then flashy iridium lenses might be a bit over the top.

However, if you’re out and about in your ‘Sunday best’ then Iridium lensed shades are a great accessory to bring your outfit together. Just as with the frames, your lens choice should compliment your style of riding and the kit you’ve chosen to wear that day.

Clear Lenses

Clear lenses are best if you ride or race in the rain. When you’re out on a long ride, or doing a stage race, clear lenses are crucial to keep the muck and grit out of your eyes. They’ll also help to prevent your eyes from drying out – riding into a wind that’s blowing into your face all day can really cause your eyes to sting!

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when to take your glasses off on a wet and windy ride, and my advice would be to just apply your common sense. If the glasses are really hampering your vision and increasing the likelihood of having a crash because you can’t see a thing – then of course, take them off. But if it’s just a case of the glasses steaming up every now and then, then do what you can to keep them in place. I’ve ridden in wet and windy stage races and removed my glasses because they were steaming up, but by the end of the stage my eyes were really red and sore! It’s about finding the balance you’re comfortable with out on the road.

Le Col C2 Battleship jackets and sunglasses

What do sunglasses mean to the pros?

Let’s be honest, pros look pretty slick 90% of the time and so, just like Bono, they can get away with wearing shades whenever they like. Tactically, there’s not any real benefit to hiding your eyes behind particular lenses so that your opponents can’t see them. Cycling isn’t a game in that sense, you either have the legs for the race that day, or you don’t, and that’s got nothing to do with what your eyes are doing.

A well-honed poker face will go a lot further in convincing the other guys in the group that you’re feeling strong in a race. Laurent Jalabert had an amazing poker face back in the late 90's, and early 2000's.

Plenty of pro teams will end up using glasses that match their team helmets. Sponsors tend to negotiate the two products as part of one deal, which leaves the pro rider with little choice on what to wear. If the riders had a choice, I know that almost all of them would pick Oakley or Salice.

Knowing a pro by their glasses choice

Pro’s certainly have a preference when it comes to their glasses of choice. When you’re riding in the peloton it’s easy to identify particular riders based on their eyewear alone. My friend Jeremy Hunt, when riding for the Cervelo Test team a few years ago, would wear fluo glasses every day. It was always easy to pick him out, even though they didn’t match his kit (at all!), which was black and white that year. Also Geraint Thomas has a favourite model which makes him easily identifiable in the bunch.

 Yanto Barker, Founder of Le Col