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Archive for September, 2012

Fall Training?

Many racers still subscribe to the age old adage of taking a complete rest in the Fall.  I believe much of this is due to the lack of motivation after a long grueling season.  Let’s face it, bike racing takes a lot out of you, especially mentally.  The same adrenaline rush and focus that makes racing fun can be the same thing that makes you burn out by the time the fall comes around.

So how important is fall training?  There is nothing wrong with taking a break, but I think that the fall and winter are excellent opportunities to get better as well.  There is so many on and off the bike activities that can make you a better bike racer that it is a shame to waste too much of the year resting.  The body is usually more ready than the mind to get back to work, so the issue isn’t about whether you can do it.  Its whether you want to do it.

How do you get that motivation to work on the stuff that isn’t necessarily why you started racing your bike? (i.e. riding your bike)  One good way is to hire a coach (hint, hint) but another is to find some activities that you can enjoy as well that work on the critical pieces of training that are so often neglected during the race season.  Training your core, muscle tension, and flexibility can create a stronger base to begin your cycling season.  Additionally, studies have shown that keeping VO2 max workouts in your training year-round can support your bodies overall adaptions in the long term.

Take that break, but also get ready to work this fall as a foundation to creating that even better season in 2013.

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Broken Arm Report

After a seriously helpful session at Raining Faith Massage, my arm is now feeling much better.  The bone seems pretty solid, but prior to my session I was having a ton of pain and strength issues in my forearm.  Obviously this is a challenge since controlling your bike is so critical in cross and not having confidence and control in one arm is fairly detrimental. 

The first test was a lunch session with a 1-2 cross racer on my team this last Friday.  Chad is pretty fast and has phenomenal bike handling skills.  He was gracious enough to take me through a few laps out at Valmont Bike Park.  The arm felt awesome.  I barely noticed it.  I was quite surprised since the arm was killing me Wednesday on the exact same course.  Confidence was growing.

After a Saturday spent at soccer games and working on the house, I decided to give the arm the ultimate test on Sunday.  Hall Ranch.  This trail is about 10 miles from my house and a great mountain bike trail.  I am a pretty big fan of riding my cross bike on single track and thought this would be a fun place to get out and ride.  The trail is a mix of tough loose climbs, big rocks and flowy trail.  It seemed like mostly rocks and climbing to my out of shape legs.  I thought I would do the initial climb and then descend since the trail is pretty rough for a cross bike, but after getting to the top I was having too much fun to flip around.  So I did the full top loop and had a blast.  The arm felt great.  A bit fatigued from the effort and the braking (it’s not too easy to break as hard as needed on the steep turns with a cross set up after being used to hydralic mountian bike brakes). 

I was pleasantly surprised by how well a cross bike handled the terrain.  I guess I can understand the 29er revolution.  Big wheels on rocky trails are great.  I can definitely see this becoming a regular ride and surely a testing ground for my new cross frame I just built.

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Recovery and Cyclocross

Cross racing is hard.  So hard that that 30-60 minute effort takes a huge amount of recovery.  If you are racing twice in a day or weekend it is likely that your body is going to need some major recovery.

Structuring a training week during cross season is pretty difficult due to proper recovery.  I always err on the side of too much rest over too much training.  I’d rather see my athletes have more in the tank to give it their all in training/racing, then be tired going into a race.  Quality over quantity is the key to cross season.   

Usually this early on there is a decent amount of training occurring outside of the races, but as the season progresses I usually only prescribe 1-2 days a week of hard training to compliment racing.  The good thing is that there are so many special skills to work on that a week can be filled out with some skills work or even some chill mtb riding to get the “can’t sit still” athlete on their bike.

The other cool thing is that, unlike road season, this gives a lot more time to the athlete to hang with the family, get house work done, pay attention to your girl friend, etc. 

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Cross Bike Build

 

I have been working on my next bike build and it is nearly complete.  I just have some final touch up and details to add before sending it out for painting.  I will be placing the cable guides on next and a seat stay bridge.

 

Building bike frames gives you a whole different perspective on the bike industry.  It makes you evaluate how much you care about frame weight, ride quality, bike geometry, etc.  I had some fun on this frame adding in some interesting characteristics.  It is a bit of an experiment and I look forward to seeing how it rides. 

 

The first choice I made was to create a bike that was a mix between mountain bike and cross bike.  I used a much higher bottom bracket to create a lot of clearance for actual single track riding.  My current cross bike has a medium high BB and I pushed this one up a bit.  I had to sacrifice making it easier to mount/remount with a lower seat to create more clearance for pedals in the rocky trails around Boulder.  It is likely that I will also experience less ability to carve the corners with this change, but I shouldn’t ever hit pedals like I have in the past.  It will definitely feel like a taller bike.

 

In regards to stiffness/comfort, the plan was to have an uber stiff frame horizontally, but to make it pretty forgiving.  So I used some very light weight tubes for the seat stays and the seat tube.  I also used curved seat stays to help flex under load.  I will be adding an additional bridge between the seat stays to keep it stiff.  In contrast, I used a heavy duty bottom bracket and chain stays.  I sacrificed clearance on the chain stays to have a stiffer bottom bracket junction by using chain stays that are round and thick at the BB joint then oval for the tire clearance.  I can still run 35 mm tires, but there are only a couple of millimeters clear.   I had to do quite a bit of mod in the shop to get this to work right.

 

In the front end I designed a very tall head tube with some stiff tubing to create a 190 mm span that should keep my front end tracking very well.   Additionally, I created a more upright bike position.  Again, this is to find that in-between mountain and cross bike. 

 

In regards to weight, the frame is 4 lbs, which is actually quite light for this type of build.  I used mostly higher end Columbus Tubing (a mix of Life, Spirit, and Zona) and some basic lugs. 

 

I will be mounting all my cable guides along the top tube and not placing any bottle cages on the frame to keep it looking clean. 

 

I haven’t decided on the paint job yet, but I will be getting it powder coated.  So I will take any suggestions on color.

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