I consider myself quite lucky in that my job takes me around the country on a semi-regular basis.  While my destinations aren’t always glamourous (Basingstoke anyone??), I do enjoy getting out of the office and meeting some of the people who work in the same field as me.  Alas, this travel often leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth- and it has nothing to do with the work.

Friends of mine will attest that ‘going out for a coffee’ isn’t really as simple as it sounds.  I tend to veto cafes unless a) I recognise the barista, b) I recognise the coffee being used and c) I can see that the coffee is being ground ‘on demand’.  This means that my ‘going out for a coffee’ is reduced to a select number of cafes that come up to scratch.  Living in London means I am now spoilt for choice when it comes to speciality coffee shops. The business district is now loaded with fine spots and I have Camden Coffee House next to my office so they get me through long afternoons, but 3 years ago it was a very different story with just a handful of suitable cafes in all of London.

So, when it comes to travelling I’m in a bit of a bind.  Most cities I head to will maybe have one or two decent coffee shops, but as I often arrive either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, I don’t have time to mess about drinking bad coffees.  So if I can’t find a suitable cafe on my beanhunter app, then I either don’t get a coffee or I have to make my own.

Making your own brews on the road has been a bit of an eye-opener for me.  But its easy now that I follow the approach of Mark Prince the real coffeegeek.  Here’s my travelling kit:

1. Beans.

I tend to take a lighter coffee, something a bit fruiter or brighter than I would drink at home.  This is because I don’t make espresso on the road so need to shift my bean profile.  The last two weeks have been Kenyan and Ethiopian beans from our main man Steve at Has Bean.  Both of these are fruity, zingy and are something diffierent to my usual cup.

2. Grinder

It’s no good having great beans if you have already ground them up and they are going stale in the bag.  My grinder of choice is the Hario Skerton which requires a bit of elbow grease (about 100 turns to get my dose ) certainly helps wake me up in the morning.  As a grinder I think it meets my needs but if you need a very coarse or very fine grind, I think it’s lacking a bit.  When set up for very coarse, there is far too much play in the ceramic burrs which means inconsistencies in the grind (which means a poor cup at the end).

3. Scales

Bag of Has Bean, Hario Grinder, Aeropress and the final cup

While it looks like I am in an illicit trade travelling with scales, it’s the only way to make sure you are on top of the coffee.  When you are only making a small amount of coffee, putting in a few too many or not enough grams changes the taste considerably.

4. Aeropress

If you’ve not seen an aeropress, just think of Austin Powers and his Swedish pump! It’s basically a cylinder, a small piece of filter paper and then a plunger piece to force the steeping brew through the filter paper.  I really like it because it produces a small intense coffee and takes just 30 seconds to press.  Unlike a French Press, there is no sediment in the cup so you get a cleaner taste.

So, travelling with work can still mean waking up with a good brew.  By now you all know when we say ‘Life is too short for bad coffee’ we mean it.

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Ronde van Vlaanderen 2011 – Route Released

Posted: February 14, 2011 by danjus10 in Cycling, Flanders

The route is out!  and it looks long and spikey!  The 170km – 200km section will give everyone an absolute rollicking!

Drop us a line if you’re in the Tour of Flanders this year.  We’d love to have a few familiar faces to share the pain with.

Good Luck!…..actually no luck required, get back to training and suffer!

Team Has Bean Management.

From zero to Local Hero

Posted: February 12, 2011 by drchrispower in Cycling, Flanders, Training
Tags:
#IWBMATTKYT

#IWBMATTKYT

As you will have seen in a previous blog post, we here at Team Has Bean are fans of The Sufferfest – big fans.  So when a new training video was let loose from Sufferfest Towers, we were excited.  And scared.

The evil genius behind these great training aids had been trailing his new instrument of torment for several weeks on Twitter.  Initially known as ‘The Blender’, with each new tweet it became apparent that his evil mind was inventing more and more hideous twists and turns.  Before you know it, an 85 minute video was in the pipeline, and The Blender morphed into Local Hero.

Preparing for the Tour of Flanders sportive always means one thing: winter miles on the bike.  Unlike summer events, with 150 miles to ride in April, you cannot shirk the training during the bleak days of December and January.  This year, with winter snow and ice in the UK, that has meant a lot of time on the dreaded turbo trainer.  Before discovering The Sufferfest, this spelt dull hours in the cellar, trying to stay focussed and watching Tour DVDs for the umpteenth time.

One thing you cannot accuse The Sufferfest of is being dull.  All the videos have a storyline or theme, thumping music to keep you pumped up and great in-race footage to help you at least feel a bit like you are racing with the pros.

So, with trepidation, Local Hero was downloaded (easily done through the website, but you need a good internet connection), burned to a DVD and fired up in front of the turbo bike. Luckily, given what happened next, I had the presence of mind to get a double espresso of Has Bean Brazil Fazenda Sol Nascente in before starting.

Local Hero is all about the first rider to make it to the World Champs from Sufferlandria.  Look it up on a map. After 5 minutes warm up, it’s straight into a short section of crit racing, with a few jumps and accelerations. Then the hard work begins, 3 sets of 6 minute pyramids building up to 2 minutes at 8/10 effort, and back down. The use of effort levels is essential to ride the Sufferfest videos (from 1 to 10), with 1 being just sitting on the bike, and 10 being flat out. Given that the instructions calls for intervals at 0.5 increments, hitting the right effort levels is easiest if you have a means of power measurement (which my turbo has).  I’ve found it best to pick a 10/10 level you can hold for 1 minute (but only just), then calculate each increment of effort up to that point. I’ve got it written on a piece of paper of the wall for quick reference – you can’t work it out when you’re deep in the pain cave.

After the pyramids, it’s off to to the Worlds Road Race in Geelong. Suffering for the pride of all Sufferlandrians.  5 sets of 3 minute efforts, with a nice mix of high power high cadence work, and lower cadence high power work to simulate climbs.  Clever use of the race footage keeps you focussed as you try to keep the pace, and believe it or not you can even find breath to laugh at some of the jokes thrown in.  To finish off the race, there is of course the sprint to the line.  Flat out, wheel to wheel with Hushovd, 10/10.  There’s a sting in the tail, but I won’t ruin the excitement of the surprise – ride it yourself.

Once the pain if over, and you’re no longer in a whole host of hurt, there is a warm down to the craziest bike/ball game I’ve ever seen – odd, but amazingly skilful.

Despite several times when I thought I’d have to stop and back off (or get off), I stuck with it and rode it more or less exactly to the requirements.  1 hour 25 mins at at average of 220 watts.  That is the thing about the Sufferfest videos, they make you push yourself so much harder than you would otherwise on the turbo.  And that has to be a good thing for Team Has Bean, as we prepare ourselves for the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year.  The motto of the Sufferfest will hopefully pay off as we drag our tired, cobble-shattered legs over the Kapelmuur IWBMATTKYT

My time crunched training plan for the Tour of Flanders

Posted: February 9, 2011 by mickflanders in Cycling, Flanders
Tags:

So, how on earth do those with full time jobs train for long distance events like the Tour of Flanders? You can’t exactly go ride 260km in one effort during the week, and to do it on the weekend would put you out of action for a couple of days which tends to go down poorly with family. Plus training for cobbles?? Dan is quite lucky as he has a few cobbled streets nearby but for the rest of us, severely pot holed rounds are a poor substitute.  Having a job, wife, one year old girl and other commitments means cycle training has to be flexible. Luckily I think I have the solution.

Low Volume High Intensity

I’ve been using the ‘Time Crunched Cyclist‘ as a base for my training plan. While I don’t stick to all the blocks, on whole, I like the set up.  The theory goes that if you can’t do long steady days in the saddle, you better work bloody hard when you are on the bike. So in order to get the most out of my riding, I never do ‘base miles’ and pretty much am always within a few watts of my threshold or recovering from being over threshold. Sure it’s hard graft, but I have a few secret weapons in my arsenal. I’ll blog about each in the coming days, but I’ll start with the first one today.

Learn how to Suffer
1. The Sufferfest is the only way to ride indoors.  It’s ridiculously good while also making you wish you never got on the bike.   The videos give you clear instructions on when to put the hammer down and when to recover which when combined that with great pro footage and good tunes, you almost feel like you are in the race.   The Time Crunched Cyclist Programme (TCCP) fits in very nicely with The Sufferfest videos. Both are about very hard efforts over a relatively short time. The first video I bought was Revolver- a 45 min interval session. Short-yes, but unbelievably hard. Its 15 one minute maximum effort with 1 minute recovery plus warm up and down. The 1 min recovery isn’t enough time to really recover so over the session, you suffer more trying to keep the same wattage.

Race Against Lance and Schleck
The Hunted is my favourite sufferfest mainly due to the way it gets you to ride at close to you maximum wattage, keeps you there and then makes you go harder. 1 hour goes fast due to the beat-laden soundtrack and great story line. I really felt like I was keeping The hunter’ aka Lance Armstrong off my wheel. It’s this threshold riding that really drives improvement in your abilities and when you don’t have much training time, you need to make the most of it.

Next blog: club chain gang rides (more suffering)

Team Has Bean – Looking the “Business”

Posted: February 7, 2011 by drchrispower in Coffee, Cycling, Flanders
Tags: ,

All good teams need a good kit, Team Has Bean is no different – We hope that it will get us noticed out there on the road (by drivers and cyclists alike – safety first people!). 

The good folks at Bioracer UK, purveyors of quality cycling kit, have pulled out the stops for us and helped us design a jersey that we think will make us stand out on the cobbles of Flanders, the hills of England and the mountains of Europe.  

Also for those with their fingers on the pulse – we have forgone a radio pocket in line with new UCI regulations.  Our team meeting was a heated affair re: safety of riders but in the end we decided that Dan and Chris are loud enough to communicate across any peleton.

And remember as always – “Lifes too short for Bad Coffee”.

Team Has Bean. Just one goal

Posted: February 6, 2011 by mickflanders in Coffee, Cycling, Flanders

So now that you know a bit of Team Has Bean’s short history, let’s take a closer look at what we are hoping to achieve.

Our goal is to complete the Tour of Flanders cyclosportive (the pro 260km version) as a team and in good spirits. Sounds easy doesn’t it?  I mean Belgium is pancake flat right? 

How hard can it be I hear you ask.  Well, yes, for the most part, Belgium IS pancake flat and for the first 120km of the event we’ll be on those flat roads, doing our best to keep the pace up, avoiding road furniture and all while conserving energy for later in the day. But Belguim ISNT really flat – it has the Ardennes range in the south and while it’s no French Alps we won’t be crossing it once, we’ll be riding over it no less than 19 times. Sure these crossings will be short, but they will most certianly be sharp.  Gradients in excess of 15% are common, but its the cobbled climbs that will drain the legs and force all but the strongest riders to walk.

Thats it – we have just one goal and all our training is aimed at achieving this.  But of course we would be pretty boring if that’s all we were interested in. So what else is Team Has Bean about?

Good coffee! Steve from Has Bean Coffee has kindly agreed to assist the team with our kit (you’ll get to see some feching photos soon), but actually, he’s been helping us out for much longer than that – he just didn’t know it.  We are borderline obsessed with good coffee. Steve’s (@hasbean) commitment and passion to specialty coffee is peerless.  Espressos, Aeropress’, Machiattos, Cortados, French Press- we drink it provided its got Has Bean beans in it.

After completing the event, we’ll be hanging around the region for an extra day as the pro riders will be doing the exact same route the following day.  We are looking forward to seeing how much more work we need to do to get Team Has Bean a professional license…Team LE-O-PARD TREK watch out!

So, if you want to follow the exploits of 4 average guys riding a non-average event, then follow us on twitter at @team_hasbean for regular updates.

Team Has Bean – A New Paradigm in Cycling

Posted: February 6, 2011 by drchrispower in Coffee, Cycling, Flanders

What is Team Has Bean?

Team Has Bean is a new way of thinking, a new way of life, a new paradigm if you will….blah, blah, blah.

Lets face it, we’re not Team LAY-OH-PARD-TREK.

Team Has Bean is 4 blokes, with two passions: riding their bikes and the pursuit of good coffee.  In the back end of 2010, we came up with a plan: to take on a cycling challenge, to ride the route of the Tour of Flanders, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.  One of the monuments of cycling, a Spring Classic.  And over 150 miles of riding.  In one day.

So we signed up for the ride, we started training, we drank coffee, and we had a thought.  We love cycling, we love coffee – why don’t we try and link the two?  Why don’t we see if we can get some sponsorship, make this a bit of a project?

It didn’t take long for us to think who to contact.  If you love coffee, real coffee (not the ‘fresh’ coffee you get on the high street from certain large ’boutique’ outlets, in cups the size of buckets) you’ll soon gravitate to Has Bean Coffee.

 You won’t find a company that loves coffee as much as Has Bean.  No, lives coffee as much as Has Bean.  So we contacted Steve at Has Bean with a proposition: we’ll ride the Tour of Flanders sportive, which attracts up to 30,000 enthusiasts from across europe, in kit emblazoned with your brand, if you’ll just stump up a bit of cash to help pay for the kit.  He’s a clever bloke Steve, he said yes.

So that’s the story.  Four average blokes, with a love of cycling, and a love of coffee who are going to train, train some more, train some more and then ride the route of a pro race in Belgium, in April.  In the wind.  Over cobbles.  This will be our story…

Chris, Rob, Dan, Mick.  Team Has Bean.

Team Has Bean