For Professional Cyclists, Going Faster And Winning Are, Of Course, Closely Related Yet Surprisingly, For Many, A Desire To Go Faster Is Much Important Than A Desire To Win Someone Who Wants To Go Faster Will Work At The Details And Take Small Steps Rather Than Focusing On Winning Winning Just Happens When You Do Everything Right It S The Doing Everything Right That S Hard And That S What Fascinates And Obsesses Michael HutchinsonWith His Usual Deadpan Delivery And An Awareness That It S All Mildly Preposterous, Hutchinson Looks At The Things That Make You Faster Training, Nutrition, The Right Psychology And Explains How They Work, And How What We Know About Them Changes All The Time He Looks At The Things That Make You Slower, And Why, And How Attempts To Avoid Them Can Result In Serious Athletes Gradually Painting Themselves Into The Most Peculiar Life Style Corners Faster Is A Book About Why Cyclists Do What They Do, About What The Riders, Their Coaches And The Boffins Get Up To Behind The Scenes, And About Why The Whole Idea Of Going Faster Is Such An Appealing, Universal Instinct For All Of Us Faster was actually a fun book for athletic enthusiasts Hutchinson explores what goes on in the minds of a pro athlete Ostensibly about cycling, there is only one chapter specific to bicycling ok one and half, and the rest is really about the type of obsession one needs to be a functioning high level pro athlete Okthan 1.5 chapters but the main thing is that there is a lot that a pro cyclist has in common with professional athletes in other sports The physiology, the nutrition, the obs Faster was actually a fun book for athletic enthusiasts Hutchinson explores what goes on in the minds of a pro athlete Ostensibly about cycling, there is only one chapter specific to bicycling ok one and half, and the rest is really about the type of obsession one needs to be a functioning high level pro athlete Okthan 1.5 chapters but the main thing is that there is a lot that a pro cyclist has in common with professional athletes in other sports The physiology, the nutrition, the obsession with the minute details of the sport, the psychology of winning etc It s a very interesting journey.Hutchinson starts with telling the reader a little about himself Full disclosure, I was obviously going to like the book and him after reading this quote I never meant for any of this to happen I never even wanted to be an athlete My ambition was to be an academic lawyer, and by my mid twenties that s exactly what I was I taught slightly left wing civil liberties and human rights courses to first year undergraduates at Sussex University Since most of the students had their hearts set on becoming big shot lawyers for major corporations, my job was overshadowed by the unspoken irony that my flock was almost certainly going to spendtime oppressing minorities than defending them An accidental cyclist with progressive leanings follows his passion Alright, now that he has me emotionally, he then breaks the rest of it up into 7 easy chapters view spoiler Chapter 1 Like a racehorse the art of being an Athlete This is a chapter about passion for the sport An obvious requirement But he also goes into the kinds of normal things lifestyle choices that you give up to be good at your craft You can t rely on being inspired by anyone else You have to want it yourself He starts talking about how you evaluate what to do with your discretionary downtime All the time you ask yourself, Will it make me tired Is there any risk I ll pick up an injury Will I get an infection These are reasons to avoid standing up, walking, and staying awake Or leaving the house for any purpose other than training.Chapter 2 Blood, oxygen and muscle the physiology of an athlete In this chapter Hutchinson goes into detail about the physiology of athletes The compositions of muscles are dependent on their specialty How the sprinters use muscles and energy differently than the endurance riders presumably similar differences for runners, swimmers etc How bodies use oxygen differently and how some professional athletes really are superior in physiology that helps them to be competitive There was nothing new in this chapter but Hutchinson did approach it in a manner that was both highly technical and understandable for the most part to the physiological novice Human physiology is so complicated that I find myself regularly regarding it as a proof against the theory of intelligent design, on the basis that absolutely no one would have set about designing something that was so convoluted, contradictory, and just plain messy Suffice it to say The pumping capacity of the heart is the single most important part of the endurance athlete package.Chapter 3 1,400 calories an hour fuelling an athlete Needless to say athletes are hyper concerned about their bodies Specifically they don t want to carry any extra weight and they need to have access to energy for their races As the title suggests, cyclists use 1,400 calories per hour racing and they race for 5 6 hours a day It becomes really difficult to replace those calories and most cyclists are a really low percentage of body fat There are no reserves Funny when I watch the Tour de France, the cyclists are always eating What they eat and how much is very calculated From a purely athletic point of view there are only three reasons to eat One is to provide the energy to ride your bike, in racing or training The second is to provide what you need to recover from long hard riding so that you can get up and do it again the next day this is especially the case in long stage races, where calorie expenditures can top 7,000 a day The third is to help your body adapt to the training The chapter was technical and informative Chapter 4 3.49.999 perfecting an athlete This chapter was about the training philosophies and techniques toward staying competitive Some methods are counterintuitive The single most important job a coach has is to tell you to stop, to take a rest, to recover Team GB s head coach, Shane Sutton, expressed it as, You can t over train But you can under recover.Of course there is always uncertainty and the athlete wants to train as hard as possible until the race It s called the taper It comes at exactly the point where you very badly want to cram, like you would for an exam But you can t The switch from training I m going to do to training I wish I d done is instantaneous.Chapter 5 A rider like a robot the psychology of an athlete This was different than you would expect This wasn t a visualize yourself winning the race kind of chapter More about tools for mental survival It s not about being the best It s about being my best Staving off the negative The importance of emotional consistency Emotions like a robot.Normally it s not so much rising to the occasion as not drooping to the occasion An overall voice inside your head that tells the basic truth about competition When it comes down to it, winning is absolute, losing is not, because there s always a chance to pick yourself up and try again Absolutes kill the desire to reach for better Monica s view not the author.Chapter 6 Free speed the technology The first chapter specifically about cycling but again not what you would expect Yes bikes were discussed, butprevalent was the clothing This chapter was about gaining an advantage through equipment Free speed is speed gained without effort on the part of the athlete Hutchinson makes an interesting observation The problem with all of this is that while it s all free speed, it s no use if everyone else has it too In truth what I ve been looking for all my life is free speed that only I have.Chapter 7 Talent and Genetics How much is nature vs nurture for professional athletes Of course both but Hutchinson seems to be believe that except extreme cases, nurture isimportant than nature.Cycling is not a complex action In terms of technique, the moment your dad lets go of you and you re wobbling along on your own, you ve pretty much got the whole package However Hutchinson notes for endurance athletes there are genetic differences For endurance riders, almost the whole difference between one end of the bell curve and the other is the ability to move oxygen In practice, that s about moving blood.Afterword The never ending search A fitting conclusion in which Hutchinson admits that the hunt issatisfactory than actually achieving The whole art of fast bike riding is a process The pleasure of it is not so much in the end result, but in the experiments and the discoveries hide spoiler I thoroughly enjoyed this book It had its highly technical scientific moments in factof that than not, but Hutchinson is very likable and he is a good writer I like his mind He has made the mundane, interesting and accessible at least in my case But I m an unabashed wannabe fast cyclist who greedily consumes any information that can potentially help me I think this book has appeal beyond cycling primarily among endurance athletes For me, a very rewarding read though much of it was over my head and abilities Yes Ed, you should read this one 4 lovingly, determined and obsessive StarsRead on kindle Without going into too much detail about the book itself partly because I don t think most non cyclists would find this interesting , and largely because I m writing this on my phone I think this is a great opportunity to explain my kind of new rating system I used to reserve 5 stars for books that I think would be enjoyed by anyone , regardless of particular interest in the subject or genre for instance Ender s game for someone who doesn t usually like science fiction My new 5 star Without going into too much detail about the book itself partly because I don t think most non cyclists would find this interesting , and largely because I m writing this on my phone I think this is a great opportunity to explain my kind of new rating system I used to reserve 5 stars for books that I think would be enjoyed by anyone , regardless of particular interest in the subject or genre for instance Ender s game for someone who doesn t usually like science fiction My new 5 star review criteria is if someone asked me to recommend a single book to them for a first foray into a particular genre, would this be the book or one of the books Cycling , training and physiology are all subjects I have extensive personal and professional experience in and have read a decent amount about, and I would recommend this book without hesitation if someone asked me for an excellent introduction into the obsessive world of elite cycling I liked it but didn t understand all of it I m glad I tried, though I wish I could getof his books.The main thing I got from his book was the question to ask myself when I eat or train or even in general Does this make me faster That s the perfect way to weigh in when I m not sure about something does it help me reach my goal Michael Hutchinson has achieved so much in cycling without actually reaching that very pinnacle of sport Without actually becoming a winning pot But he has achieved all of his successes clean and against the odds He shares his vast insights gained by hard work, trial and error His love of cycling is enormous and pure A must read for anyone remotely interested in cycling. Another book I would have never picked up had it not been for Quest Scouts Even so, I almost abandoned it early as this is not my kind of book I am pleased I stuck with it.Today I was in the vehicle all day Having downloaded the audiobook from Hoopla made for great companionship Hutchinson read by Simon Vance has a wonderful sense of humor I really like his British wit I found myself chuckling aloud as I drove about Delaware today.It s still not in my wheelhouse There was far too many d Another book I would have never picked up had it not been for Quest Scouts Even so, I almost abandoned it early as this is not my kind of book I am pleased I stuck with it.Today I was in the vehicle all day Having downloaded the audiobook from Hoopla made for great companionship Hutchinson read by Simon Vance has a wonderful sense of humor I really like his British wit I found myself chuckling aloud as I drove about Delaware today.It s still not in my wheelhouse There was far too many details on the minutia of bicycle racing for my tastes Yes, granted, that is what this is aboutkind of I enjoyed the insight to elite training I think Hutchinson did a wonderful job showing us that side of sport.His descriptions, wry as they were, were engaging At one point I pulled over to Google Hutchinson I was struggling with something he said and what I was visualizing That is when I realized he wasn t a road racer but a track rider That hadn t been immediately apparent to me.Hutchinson did a very good job of educating this layman as to the specifics of the sport Lung capacity is huge because it adds oxygen to get into the blood, which is what the elite bicyclist needs And as great as Hutchinson s lung capacity is, he is humble in noting that it isthan just genetics that creates the elite Training, examining every detail is how the edges are found Blood doping is desirable because that getsoxygen into the system Seams on clothing help create turbulence, which is desired Aerodynamics are taken from motorsports, clothing from swimming, etc The edges are minute, but there is nophysical training that can be gotten Everyone is already working at maximum, therefore, the advantages come from the other components of the sport.This ended up being an interesting listen Thank you once again for putting me in touch with a book I would have otherwise never seen Interesting If you are seeking to understand the whole marginal gains thing, if you want to know how obsessive you need to be to rise to the top, if you want to get insight into the attention to detail of the world s best racing cyclists, this book will be a good read It covers a lot of ground but appropriately only in the areas it says it will I would have likedon the dedication and determination required how these champions push themselves in training to the point of complete exhau Interesting If you are seeking to understand the whole marginal gains thing, if you want to know how obsessive you need to be to rise to the top, if you want to get insight into the attention to detail of the world s best racing cyclists, this book will be a good read It covers a lot of ground but appropriately only in the areas it says it will I would have likedon the dedication and determination required how these champions push themselves in training to the point of complete exhaustion There was a little on this how champions like training but it s an area that fascinates me and I d love to readabout it What was absolutely engrossing reading was the quotes and comments from the people the author interviewed Sir Chris Hoy etc Overall, very interesting and delivers what it promises Makes you feel firmly in the life of a dedicated cyclist, but is nearly as boring The summary of the book is this you eventually hit a very serious plateau, and the winners find inventive ways to shave a few seconds from the common plateau It s an interesting idea and I trust reality, but railing that point for hundreds of pages gets quite boring. This book was good but extreme I felt like I was reading a book by a borderline unhinged person who decided to ride bikes Some of his tips are good but I would cautiously recommend because of the obsessiveness A must read for anyone interesting in cycling Hutchinson goes into great detail about exactly what is required from top level athletes, discussing human biology, genetics, doping, diets, and aerodynamics in a simple yet comprehensive way, and often through reflection of his own experiences. A great and engaging read about what makes a fast bike rider The fact that it s written by an insider makes it evenfun and intriguing, but sometimes it inclines to slight pretentiousness Luckily the book is not devoid of any self deprecating humor and sarcasm as well.
- 320 pages
- Faster: The Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World's Fastest Cyclists
- Michael Hutchinson
- 19 September 2018 Michael Hutchinson