Feb 6

Obree the Maverick

The Obree Way

A training manual for cyclists.

Graeme Obree offers a unique approach to cycle training

Graeme Obree offers a unique approach to cycle training

World Champion cyclist Graeme Obree can never be accused of being conventional; quite the opposite in fact. It is his maverick and eccentric approach to cycling and cycle sport that has endeared him to millions of cyclists around the world. Unfortunately, to some of the more rigid-minded individuals he has come up against during his career, his unwillingness to conform to contemporary wisdom has meant that he has had a bumpier ride than he may have liked, but this is perhaps what Obree thrives upon and is the spark that drives his passion for the sport of cycling. His approach is direct and outspoken; he knows what he wants and he knows how to achieve it and it is this single-minded determination and confidence in his methods that shines through in his new book “The Obree Way”.

This is a beautifully packaged training manual like no other; you won’t find the scientific references to leading research in performance training, but you will find it packed with  meticulous details on what has worked for Graeme, (and who are we to question a World Champion?), but perhaps this is the book’s greatest strength. In the introduction Obree states, “…it would become habit for me to question every aspect of bike set-up, riding technique, positioning, nutrition, and training” and his enthusiasm to probe into “contemporary best-practice”, pull it apart and piece it back together in a more effective approach, leads the reader to question their own approach to cycling. Obree himself states that, “you may not find every piece of advice in the book useful…”, but that isn’t really the point of this book; it is really more of an enlightenment for those who have been drowned in an ocean of facts, figures, and more often than not the commercially driven opinion that clouds the real questions that a cyclist is searching for answers to. It provides a starting point where each cyclist can begin their own journey into the world of cycling or rediscover and reignite a passion for training that may have been in the doldrums.

Each of the 13 chapters focusses on a specific area of training and preparation that Obree feels is relevant. These include: bike set-up, pedalling, stretching, psychology and nutrition and diet. It is not exhaustive, but all the key points are here. Be warned though, if you are looking for a book packed with training plans, this is not it, there are plenty of others with that information; what Obree has succeeded in doing is producing a book that is quite different to most others on the market in that it provides an armoury of techniques and more importantly a mind-set orway of thinking that many other publications brush over with, at best a passing glance.  One of the chapters that jumped out and struck a chord with me was, “The Turbo Session”. It is in this chapter that Obree’s individual character shines through. As with the rest of the book, there is no list of workouts here to spoon-feed you a training programme, (to have included these, the book would be treading ground well ridden over already and that is not Obree’s style); instead, Obree puts such a passionate slant on how to get the most out of your turbo trainer and his approach of getting the environment right, correct visualisation and thinking of the rhythm of pedalling gave a whole new outlook to my indoor trainer-shy attitude that I found that myself dusting the cobwebs off my own “turbo” that I previously regarded as a torture implement from the Spanish Inquisition and, enjoying might be too strong a word for now, but certainly not hating the training session. Other chapters, such as “Breathing”, shed new light on often forgotten about, but crucial facets of getting the most out of your performance in a way that makes you question why you had never thought about it before. The simplicity of the subjects in this book betrays the depth of knowledge conveyed in each chapter and you will find yourself thinking about the words long after the book is back on the shelf. It’s back to basics, but delivered in a way that is engaging and pushes the boundaries, all in the pursuit of improvement. In a generation where the head honcho of British Cycling has almost ingrained the mantra of, “marginal gains” in the psyche of coaches and riders alike, it seems that Graeme Obree has been practicing this himself for years and is now ready to share his secrets.

Throughout the manual, Obree offers a way of thinking and getting into a mind-set that is supplemented with technique and outcome that is part, a document of Obree and his own road of discovery, part martial philosophy for two-wheels and part manual for the discerning cyclist who likes to think out of the box a little.

“The Obree Way – A training Manual for Cyclists” by Graeme Obree 

ISBN 9781408196427 Bloomsbury

Scot Tares

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