Monday, 12 December 2011

Graeme Obree Training Manual

Graeme Obree is one of this nations greatest cyclists.  The underdog who built his own bike, trained without technology and went on to break perhaps the most prestigious record in cycling - the hour record - not once, but twice.  Cycling legend - Eddy Merckx - reckoned that the hour record "took years off of his life."

Obree's story is the stuff of legend.  With all the odds stacked up against him, he flew in the face of the UCI and pushed the very boundaries of bike design eventually quitting the sport.  If you've never heard his story, it's one of the most inspiring there is.  I'd recommend you read his auto-biography - The Flying Scotsman - and watch the DVD

I've interviewed Graeme previously and consider him one of the greats of the sport. You can imagine how proud I felt to be asked to edit his upcoming training manual, where he reveals some of his training techninques and thoughts.  It was a pleasure to assist someone who has inspired so many.  I'd encourage you to read my former blogposts around meeting Graeme, which should be below.

The Training Manual

This is a long awaited book for road cyclists.  When Chris Boardman used heart rates and power cranks to train for the hour attempts, Obree took to the hills of Scotland, old school.

Obree - famed for his innovative techniques, re-invented the rulebooks so many times that the UCI locked him and his designs down.  He is in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame aswell as the British Cycling Hall of Fame, recognising the massive contribution he has made to the sport.

Graeme has kindly agreed to me publishing his last paragraph.  You'll see from the sentiment, what the manual is all about.

"Please trust me that this body of honest work is given in the best of spirit, I have been the guinea –pig in the quest to refine my training on every level and I can commend it really does work. Knowledge and understanding is a constant quest. This book is not definitive and keeping an open mind on new findings and developments is not only a good thing but essential if you are serious in your search for new and better ways to improve your cycling and athletic performance.

Information is the golden thread throughout this book. The more information you compile in relation to your preparation for any chosen event then the better prepared for your task you can become and this can make the difference between being a club rider and a world champion. My quest as an athlete was always to go into the minute detail in the areas I could influence to affect the outcome to my advantage in terms of my performance. Trust me, if you take care in all aspects of your preparation and performance you will become an improved cyclist and perform better in your chosen discipline, if that is your goal."

Thirty quid - at first - seemed expensive for a book, relative to other books.  But this is no ordinary book, this book is by the master - Graeme Obree.  A guy that never sold out, a guy who quit a top team because of his anti-doping stance, a guy who took on the highest governing body of the sport and challenged their very being, a guy who did it without money and sponsorship, a man of the people.  He didn't earn a fortune in cycling, like modern day riders, why shouldn't we show our pride in this national treasure by buying his manual.

In the manual, he shares his secrets.  The thing that stuck with me most was his breathing pattern.  Previously only shared with a secret few but now available to all. I've used this when climbing and found it of considerable benefit.

Reflecting on what I spend on kit and stuff to make me feel like I'm going faster, thirty quid - in context - is nothing.  It's the knowledge I'm buying, it's not a book - it's more than that, it's a little bit of cycling history from one of our very own cycling legends.  If someone offered me a pair of shorts for £100, I'd buy them.  Therein lies the value.

The manual, launching next week is exclusively available via Graeme Obree's website at  For a limited time, Graeme will be signing copies ordered, now that is a momento worth having, I'm in.  I have a feeling that this training manual will go down in cycling folklore, purchased by those that understand the story, the sentiment, the beautiful mind.

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