Words by Alastair McNeill
In the second of our irregular look at cycle shops, Alastair visits Cadence Performance in Crystal Palace
Cadence Cycle Performance in Crystal palace has just reopened following a recent refurbishment. Intrigued by the developments taking place in the former car showroom located squarely on the top of Anerly Hill, Crystal palace, I dropped in on the grand opening Saturday to see first hand how Cadence have set about establishing themselves as the destination for all those looking to “improve their performance on a bike”.
I first came across Cadence Performance soon after they first opened in early 2012. The office like facade hid a bank of state of the art Tacx turbo trainers that they were in the process of being set up. On your right you had a cafe and at the back a workshop and retail area.
It was mid winter, and the concept of being able to grab a coffee, leaf through a copy of The Cyclist and get your bike looked over, before putting yourself through your paces up the Galibier, without having to leave South London, was refreshing. Since those early days, Cadence has steadily developed into a venue of choice for those who are looking for a one stop destination for everything cycling related.
Whilst you can certainly buy your cycling gear from here and get your bike serviced in the workshop, Cadence founder and long time cyclist Frank Beechinor is clear in his vision that Cadence is not about competing with high street or online retailers. Instead, Cadence is all about a friendly, knowledgeable staff that can deal with all aspects of you and your bike. Being a native of Cork, the emphasis is very much on the friendly, and along with Co Founder, Frank Vella, and Profit Manager, Daniela Di Gioia, Cadence manages to create a very different atmosphere (think a hybrid Irish, Italian and Maltese) from other high end cycle centers.
The chosen location, right at the top of Anerly Hill is a deliberate nod to the many clubs who meet in Crystal Palace before heading out to the Kent Hills. Whilst not affiliated directly with any given club, it is the ideal bike safe meeting point to fuel up (decent Nude coffee and cycle specific menu) and talk bikes before setting off.
Building on this, and in keeping with the drive towards using science to improve performance, Cadence are now offering an extensive range of services aimed at optimum bike fitting, coaching and nutrition aimed at cyclists of all levels. The emphasis is very much on a personal approach, with Retul bike fitting, V02 and lactate threshold testing, personal and group Watt Bike sessions based upon individual results, cycle specific yoga, triathlon coaching and sports massage and physio.
And if you just want to get out a ride, you can do that too, accompanied by pro rider and tour veteran, Matteo Carrara.
Talking to Frank, it is clear that the drive is very much towards looking at the individual and where they are at in terms of performance and personal goals, and then using the understanding of science to produce very specific program aimed at achieving those goals. He cites the case of a client who managed to knock 3 hours off their Marmotte time (9.5 hrs down to 6.5hrs) from one year to next by looking at V02 max, power output, heart rate zones and diet, then applying a 3 month training program. As he points out, putting in a lot of hard miles is not the same as training effectively.
This is an interesting point, as I’m personally guilty of slipping into the mindset that just because I’m out through the winter, slogging up the hills, I’m getting fitter. I tested my VO2 Max and Lactate threshold a couple of years ago, but short of paying vague attention to my heart rate zones, doing the odd bit of interval training and cutting back on red wine in the immediate lead up to a big ride, I have largely ignored the science.
So how much improvement can one make in 3 months? My plans for this year involve the Dragon Ride (Gran Fondo) in June and then the daddy of them all, The Haute Route Geneva to Nice, via the Alps and around 21,000m climbing over 600km, in July. I think it might be time to have a chat with Cadence and finally apply myself to the science on offer. Watch this space for regular updates on the Watt Bike program and its results.
Here’s a video from Cadence discussing their philosophy…
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