For our 2018 kit launch, we really wanted to do something a bit different than stylised shots of people pulling duck face/trout pout whilst sat in a photography studio in East London. Clearly challenge is what? Especially when you are talking about Spring/Summer kit – and you are still sat in the depths of winter in Leeds.
Brands like ours don’t have the budgets to fly everyone out to Mallorca, then drive around hanging out of the back of Land Rover discoveries shooting (to be fair shit hot) images with amazing back drops…. We look to invest any cash we do have back into our products, and more importantly in helping to support emerging talent both on an individual and team level.
Our community has always been central to our brand ethos. We aim to collaborate wherever possible, putting the riders at the centre of everything we do – building cycling from grass roots organically and working with guys who are passionate about what we do, and take their sport seriously, and life not so seriously
So what better way to actually put out money where our mouth is, than to get people who have worked closely with the brand over the years, and put them at the centre of our launch.
So plans were made, and on a cold Sunday morning at the beginning of February, the Paria Family started to descend at the OTE HQ in Leeds. We wanted to give the team a bit of an experience, so had booked two back to back sessions in the altitude chamber stationed in their performance centre.
Over to the #pariafam to tell you how it went
When Sam from Paria invited me up to Leeds to have a go in the OTE altitude trainer I couldn’t wait. Having been a massive fan of type two fun since the age of 10, the idea of slogging out a watt bike session at altitude was right up my street. Not only that, it was a chance to meet the other Paria ambassadors, people who I ‘knew’ from Paria Instagram, and see the upcoming Paria kit in all its glory.
Rolling into an industrial estate first thing on a Sunday morning and seeing the wheel of a bike protruding out of a door, I knew I was in the right place. I walked in and was faced with a room full of people wearing various levels of Lycra, surrounded by boxes of kit and, of course, more bikes. Through another door, I could see a small gym and, through a glass window on the far wall, I could see the haloed altitude chamber.
The thing I’ve always loved about Paria is how chilled it is. As a bike brand, it’s completely unpretentious, unassuming and, for want of a better word, cool. Not like try-hard cool, but genuine don’t-give-a-f*** cool. Like its founder, Sam, who welcomed us to the day and handed me the Memphis Kit, which I was to wear for a bit of a photoshoot and for the watt bike session.
It was pretty FRESH outside that day, but everyone rallied around to have their photos taken wearing summer kit. It was ace to hang out with the other ambassadors, learning a little about where they were from and the kind of riding they did. As I expected, everyone I met was fun and just…dead nice.
Onto the altitude session, I didn’t know what to expect at all. Would I feel out of breath straight away? Would my heartrate go nuts before I’d even sat on the saddle? Hang on, how do I even … watt bike? I’d only ever used spin bikes or ridden outside in the past…
But all became clear very quickly. The session was explained by Ashley and was to be 35 minutes, including a warm up, various sprint sets and then a cool down. Just a couple of minutes into the warm up, I could already feel my HR had risen and I was a bit breathless. Blimey. Then the actual work started. Being predominantly an endurance cyclists, I haven’t done much in the way of sprintervals, so I really enjoyed the challenge of putting some power down and well…mullering myself a bit. An awesome tip I took from the day was to concentrate on breathing OUT. It seems like a simple thing, but it’s something I’d never really thought of before. Even if all it does is focus the mind away from the struggle, I felt like it helped. Before I knew it, we were into the warm down.
Bummer. I want to carry on.
HOWEVER, the next thing on the agenda was eating; my second favourite activity and another opportunity to get to know the rest of the Paria fam. It was a great day and an awesome example of the power that cycling can have. Take a motley crew of individuals, from all over the country, shove them on bikes and watch as they all get to know each other.
Bloody brilliant, that.
So after a chilled Saturday shooting some work, eating a great meal with the Paria family (Sam, Emily, Ben and Lou) and enjoying casual beers we ventured to bed nice and early to be ready for the daunting ‘OTE sports performance altitude chamber’ the next day.
I can’t say I was nervous, I think I was more intrigued on how I would perform under such pressures and meeting the rest of the riders for Paria. After introductions to the OTE staff and the riders we split into groups as the chamber only holds 6 riders at a time, luckily I was in the second group as I wanted to see how others reacted in the first 5 minutes of the chamber…. It was far from pretty.
I’ll leave you hanging there for a few lines…
We needed to fill the down time, so we had some fun cruising around leeds and photographing the crew who were waiting for the beasting. Sam from Paria had asked for my help with some shooting of the guys, and thankfully we stumbled across some great locations that really helped embrace the Paria style, with out being to intrusive within the images. All of the riders were totally naturals infant of the camera thankfully, because of course that made my job a whole bunch easier!
So back to it, we arrived back at the OTE premises started to sort kits out and get changed ready for the session. I took on a sneaky apple hoping for miracle power – not sure whether it delivered, but the psychological support was there for sure. Once I was kitted out I knocked a few stretches out (you know because being 28 isn’t easy…) then got my watt bike set up for my gangly geometry; there was no turning back now.
As soon as the session started I knew it wasn’t going to be fun, I could feel my body panicking as the altitudes changed, which is a natural instinct when your deprived of oxygen. After we had warmed up for around 10 minutes I thought I had adjusted to the chamber… Oh how wrong I was. Instructions came to start our first block of intervals. I train a lot at home, hammering the rollers and turbos with the goal of smashing the fitness in the winter months. You would assume this would leave you with a base fitness, setting you up to cope with most examples of extreme exercise.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I gave it the big one up front, going I hell for leather in the first block (have a look at the pics!); I mean, what else what I do?! Again another big mistake because recovery is so so hard! Your body is craving oxygen, but there simply isn’t the levels you are used to – so you are constantly under duress.
After the mid way point of the session I definitely asked for a sick bucket ‘just in case’. I’m not one to get off the bike and give up/ take a break; but I will spew if its needed! Heading into the final efforts I felt as if I had been punched in the chest and then thrown into a sauna, all while still pedalling. Gradually though, I had adjusted to the altitude and was slowly dealing with the interval sets a bit better.
The cool down, included me thanking the sweet baby Jesus I as still able to breathe.
I really enjoyed pushing my mind and body through the session especially with the help of the instructor who wouldn’t let me give up! I would 100% recommend a session to every serious cyclist looking to push themselves or prepare for a climbing holiday thats for sure!
All credit to Ashley who took the session, the intervals were excellent, and even though he was shouting at you – you still felt driven to push harder and faster.
Big thanks to everyone involved as always, moral of the story ‘You’re never as fit as you may think, TRAIN HARDER!’
2018 is a big year for Paria. We want to go harder and push ourselves on from what was a rad 2017. Having these guys on board, having them wearing our kit, and supporting the brand is amazing to see and is pretty much the foundation of Paria, and taking it to the next level. They all rocked the kit, and more importantly gave it their all in the latitude chamber. Not sure which was tougher, braving the Leeds climate, or having the oxygen slowly sucked away…