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Archive for March, 2012

Epic Ride

        Had an epic day on the bike last Sunday.  I mapped it and placed a link below for the 3D video.  Over 8000 feet of climbing and most of it in the first 1/2 of the ride.

 

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/render_route_video?route_key=214133279091423255&site=mapmyride.com

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Boulder Roubaix

I preroad the Boulder Roubaix with the Sonic Boom Racing Team this weekend, knocking out a couple of pretty fast laps with the crew.  I absolutely love this course.  Is it flat enough for me?  No.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it classic, beautiful, hard core?  Yes. 

The course requires the full compliment of cycling skills:

  • Raw power on the flats
  • Short punchy climbs
  • Slightly longer climbs
  • Bike handling in the dirt
  • Positioning for key sections
  • Riding in strong winds

This is not a course where you can have a bad day and do well.  You must be on form and focused to compete.  Preriding is a must, unless you plan on being off the front the whole time.   And being off the front the whole time would be a huge achievement.  The course favors a select group break away that can navigate the dirt fast without the pressures of the big group going through and that can stick together in the wind.

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After watching Ghent-Wevelgem this weekend, I was reminded of how much it takes to win in cycling.  (BTW if you race and don’t watch professional cycling you are handicapping yourself.  Like any modern day sport, studying film can be a huge help in a non cycling culture like the US)  Anyhow, after watching Tom Boonen win the race in a beautiful sprint out of the select group, I was thrilled to see him back at his best. After watching him dominate in the pre-Cancellara era and then have two forgetful seasons in 2010 and 2011, I had counted him out as spent.  It was easy to forget the small injuries and health problems that nagged him through those seasons.  In 2012 he is proving his class and it is great to watch again.

I have seen so many bike racers get down due to injury, illness, crashing, etc. and not be able to get back in the game mentally.  Cycling takes so much out of the body that if your body is hindered in any way it can really be a challenge to perform.  Boonen was able to keep it in perspective, fight through it, and come out winning.  But even a crazy huge talent like his wasn’t able to overcome his issues without the needed training and most importantly time.  It is a good lesson for us all.  About not giving up and also about realizing healing is a process and takes time.

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Early season training can be treacherous. Especially when you are having good weather like we are in Boulder currently.  No one is looking out for the signs of overtraining.  Heck, you are just getting off the couch, how can you be overtrained?  But as the season begins and everyone is amped up about training and racing, many racers get out on their bikes and go, go, go.  When the weather is good in the spring, everyone feels like they have to be on the bike.  Enough good weather, motivation, and teammates cheering you on can result in a massive bought with fatigue and eventually overtraining.  Easing into the season is a good thing, but also making the tough decision to not ride on the 80 degree day and to ride on the 45 degree day two days from now.  It isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it sure beats having your legs fall off in April.  Overtraining in Spring can put a huge hole in your season.  The only way to get out of an overtrained situation is rest and it is hard to rest big when all the prime races are coming on.  Often a racer just keeps banging their head against the race wall to realize they wasted a whole season completely fatigued.

So don’t bury yourself too early and train carefully this Spring…your season depends on it.

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Climbing

 

Now I am not climber, that is for sure. But I have coached several racers that had climbing goals and it is always interesting to see how folks go about training to improve their climbing. So many racers hop on their bikes and just head up the hill as hard as they can. Sure this is effective to a degree, but just like you don’t train for a time trial by going out and riding at TT pace for an hour, you don’t train to improve your climbing by just riding in the mountains. If you are working on climbing or preparing for a certain race, it is critical that you work in a variety of workouts. Both on the flats and in the mountains. It is also easy to lose your ability to do the other things in racing if you just ride around in the mountains too much. Additionally, working on descending as much as climbing can be important. No sense in gaining an advantage on the climb only to lose it on the descent.

 

If climbing is a focus incorporate:

 

  • Intervals
  • Threshold work
  • Repeats
  • Standing climb workouts
  • Sitted only workouts
  • Hill sprints

 

The variety of workouts in the mountains will sharpen you climbing skills and improve your overall fitness.

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Bike Build and Ride

 

Finally built up my wife’s bike with some parts.  Had to use a mix of old and new due to budget, but per her request we have pink bar tape, pink tires, and custom pink fork.  Ultimately I would like to throw on Sram Apex white group, white bar/stem and a white with pink accent seat.  But this is all in due time.  You have to ease into this much bling anyhow.  The fit looks good on her first ride around the block.

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Spring Training

As the season begins it is easy to get caught up in results in the early races.  As a coach, one of my primary roles at this juncture is to understand my athletes goals and where they are in their training process.  Racing often fits in to their overall goals, but most often is not their goal in March.  It  can be tough on a racer to go out there and get gutted in a early season crit, but keeping perspective is important.  Expecting a good result after a 15 hour training week with intensity may be a bit much in March.  Expecting that training through races will result in excellent results come May, that is necessary.

So good luck out there and don’t let the warm weather trick your mind/body into thinking it is prime race season.  Nope it is still mid March (I can’t believe it myself) and we all are going to need to improve come April and May.

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Time Trial Training

 Although I am not a time trialist per se, I firmly believe in the importance of this type of training in a holistic program. For ALL the athletes I coach, I include these types of efforts. Only a select few would claim they are focused on time trials, however it is a critical type of tuning for your cycling engine. The physiological benefits at threshold are huge and the type of suffering tolerance gained is massive.

I personally dread these days. The monotony of setting your body at your threshold wattage and suffering for 20, 30, 60 minutes is my biggest enemy. My body craves speed changes, rest, and all out efforts. So I fight the urge to soft pedal or to just gun it for a minute and settle in to the rhythm of pedal stroke and breathing that I know is just on the cusp of blowing up, but not so hard I will.

Including these efforts in your early season riding is critical to creating a large book of matches to burn during races. These efforts also allow you to learn about your body and what threshold feels like. During a race, that knowledge is critical when in breaks, attacking, bridging, etc.

One word of caution, it is very easy to become over trained when including too many of these workouts. They can be hard to recover from and accumulate over weeks of hard training. So paying attention to the little signs of over training (HR compared to power, energy, sleep, etc.) is important if you are focusing a number of workouts on this type of training.

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Stazio

The first mass start of the year kicked off Sunday with the CU criterium at Stazio ball fields.  This is about a 10 minute ride from the house, so I had to go.  I had several conflicts with the family between skiing, birthday parties, etc.  However my wife and some good friends helped out for the 2 hour excursion to race and I am grateful!!

This is the first race I ever did in Colorado and I did it on the day after I arrived.  Ever since that first experience it has held a special place in my racing memories.  Back in the day there used to be a 3 week series in March to begin the race season.  It is a great course, open roads and a hill to work the legs a bit.

We had nearly the whole 1-2 Sonic Boom team in the over 100 person field.  The race was complete with several members of Bissell, Jelly Belly, Berry Farms, and other Pro teams, as well as some other large contingencies from the major local teams.

I had been fighting a killer chest cold that had my lungs hurting with any deep breath. But after an easy pace 5 hours on Saturday, my cold felt much better.  It never really bothered me much during the race and I felt fine.  The worst part of the race was losing my water bottle in the first lap and suffering my sore throat without any relief for an hour.

I pretty much chilled out the entire race, wanting to take it easy with my cold.  I moved up into the top 10, then back to 40th, repeat about 10 times.  It was one of those courses that was open enough that the group shifted around a lot.  The bike handling was pretty good and I didn’t have to deal with too many close calls.  There were several breaks and attacks, but none ever stuck since the field as so big and the course open en ought that it was full gas most of the time.

In the last lap I tried to move up from 25th or so and the side I took got shut down somehow and I lost a few places.  Then I gassed it up the hill to pass a ton of guys getting popped.  As I got to the top, the group I was in got gapped and it was on just to catch up to the lead group.  My race was pretty much over when the guys slammed on their brakes in the first corner of that lap and I lost places.  But that is racing and it was fun just to get out and back in the action.

I was encouraged to see Sonic Boom all over the front of the race with several guys going off the front in breaks or an the attack.  Good omen for things to come later this year

 

http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/photos.php?id=photos/2006/mar06/staziocrit1_06/excel_sports_chase_group

See link for a pic of me at the crit back in the day.  I am in the Colavita kit on the right.

 

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Group Rides

As I researched for this article (googled “group rides”) and thought about other’s opinions, I realized that there is a bunch of BS out there about group rides and racing.  There is a lot of esoteric dialogue about making racing special, group rides being dangerous, and “proper etiquette.”

Truth is: Most group rides are races and if you need some race speed in your legs they can be a huge benefit to training.  Not only do you get to practice a race (experience is critical in bike racing), but you get to race with nothing to lose.  This frees you up to try new tactics, work on teamwork with your mates, and sprint/attack/climb at a higher level as you are pushed by others.  Should you do a group ride every day?  No.  Can they be critical components of a comprehensive training plan?  Absolutely.  I wish more folks did race pace group rides.  The overall group benefit of racers that are comfortable handling their bikes in a large group, race format is worth having a few group rides around.

There is no doubt that group rides can be dangerous.  Mostly because bike racing IS dangerous.  And group rides are bike races, essentially.  So many of the issues are shared between them.  The additional issue of group rides sharing roads with cars does have a factor.  However, if you have any sense in your head this can be dealt with.  Sure group rides compound the hassle for a car, but as an individual in the group  you still have choices about the elements that are the common complaints:  running lights, crossing the yellow line, etc.  Most of this is common sense.  Don’t run the light.  Don’t cross the yellow line into head on traffic.  Duh.

The Bus Stop ride will start next week with the time change.  This is a classic group ride on Tues/Thurs night.  Just last year, I was thrilled to test my legs against the likes of Baden Cooke, Greg Henderson and other world class pros on this ride.  I can’t wait to see who shows up in 2012.

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