Friday, 10 September 2010

Meeting Graeme Obree (Part II)

Continued from previous blogpost...

Graeme Obrees Top Tips for New Cyclists

I asked Graeme what his top tips would be for someone new to road cycling. He claims that the following “made him World Champion”.

  1. 1. Seek out older riders. Ask their advice, really listen to them, particularly about racing tips or riding in groups.
    2. Never stop thinking about your position on the bike. Saddle height and saddle fore/aft. Keep making minor adjustments to this to see if your performance improves. If it doesn’t put it back to where it was.
    3. Learn when to rest.

Graeme was very insistent that rest is the #1 element of his training, not to constantly keep knocking yourself out, but to include rest as a key element of your training plan.

Do specific training for specific results was something he kept re-iterating. Whether it be a TT, a road or velodrome race, tailor your training specifically for your objective. Graeme finished by saying that he would rather ride a cheap bike that fits him perfectly, rather than an expensive bike that doesn’t. Sound advice (remember my bike fit service, details here).

Nutrition Tips

It’s well documented that he’s not an advocate of performance products, preferring to scrutinise what he eats. Here are his three top tips: -

1. Eat a balanced diet and avoid sports fitness drinks and products.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables and avoid processed foods.
3. Chew your food!

The only two foods that he eats on the bike are Bananas and Marzipan. He says Marzipan is one of the most overlooked sources of energy for bike riders and contains all the necessary things you’re system needs (including digestive) when out on long runs. He’s done all the research on this (Marzipan is a new one on me).

Graeme had studied the way our digestion system works in great detail. He became really animated and went into great detail on this topic, I couldn’t take the notes fast enough. I guess you’ll have to wait for the book!

Other Things in the Conversation

a) The original “Old Faithful” bike can be seen in the Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. He donated it.
b) A replica “Old Faithful” was made for the film. Graeme made this himself and this will be donated to the Scottish Transport Museum.
c) Graeme wrote his book “The Flying Scotsman” himself. He wrote the entire book longhand and amazingly still retains the original manuscript (including the strike throughs that he had to remove for legal reasons). He told me that once he had finished his manuscript and done the final edit, he has never read the book again.
d) Graeme names all of his bikes and feels that everyone should give their bike a name. His current steed is called “Lady Penelope” (he owns two bikes which he’s built himself).
e) He said he is either “full on or full off” when it comes to cycling. Giving everything or giving nothing. Full intensity or no intensity. I guess this comes as a by-product of his personality.
f) Graeme doesn’t own a car and has never driven. He rides everywhere or uses public transport.

So that ends my post about meeting Graeme Obree. He's a one-off person, his own man, not afraid to speak his mind. You have to admire his guts, determination and sheer audacity. A privilege to meet the man. He was generous to carry a poster of his film all the way from Scotland to sign for me, that's being framed this weekend and going up on the wall in the study.


  1. I already eat bananas while out riding but I didn't know about the marzipa. I guess this explains why i'm only half as quick :)

  2. Marzipan & Malt Loaf was always my race day combination. Never realised it was only me & mr O'Bree that knew about the Marzipan :-)