training

You Can Take It With You

It's a common refrain for North American professional cyclists that traveling is the hardest part of the sport. This isn't unique to pros, though. It's crucial for racers at every level to consider how traveling can take away from your performance, and how much they need to prepare and account for it, just as they would with training. Bike racing is hard, of course, but it's something you prepare and train for.

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Training Weaknesses, Racing Strengths

By the month of May, most North American riders are done with base training for their summer season, or very close to it, and have anywhere from 1-3 months of racing under their belt. If you've had a successful spring, you should have a strong foundation of aerobic fitness, with the ability to ride at race pace for up to 60 minutes, enough endurance to finish your longest races, and the capacity to recover quickly from interval work and consecutive training or racing days.

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Training While You Work

Most of our clients at Cycle-Smart are not professionals. Or more specifically, they're not professional cyclists. The majority of people we work with are trying to be the best bike racers they can be within the context of their "real lives" - work, school, family - they have other commitments that they aren't looking to sacrifice in order to become a full-time bike racer. One of our biggest challenges as coaches is to help them find the balance between their professions and personal lives and their athletic goals.

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Training In Training Races

As February comes to an end, many of you in North America racers will begin racing in the next few weeks, if you haven't already. Unless you spent the winter somewhere warm where the early season races actually mean something, most of you will start the year with a month or so of smaller training races to get your feet wet (often literally).

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You Gotta Have A Plan

In the 15 years or so I've spent racing full-time and in the 8 years I've worked as a coach, the month of January has always stood out as the most dynamic, and perhaps most important of the season. In normal winters I would have two weeks off at the holidays to recover from cyclo-cross season and head somewhere warm for road racing in February or March. Some years I went to Europe after 'cross nationals and raced another 6 weeks without a break. Other years I attempted to be a year-round New Englander and spent 2 months Nordic skiing before I began structured road training in March.

Intervals For Cyclo-Cross

Cyclo-Cross is hard, plain and simple. There are very few sports that require the same level of intensity from start to finish as a cyclo-cross event. If you could take the feeling of two boxers going toe-to-toe in a wild melee of punches, and then somehow make that last for an entire hour, you might get close to the sensation of a 'cross race.

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Hang On To That Form!

While it might be approaching cyclo-cross season for some of us, just as many still have a month or two of road or mountain bike racing left to their season. This late in the year it's very difficult to find the energy or motivation to train hard unless you've take an extended break in the summer. If you started your season sometime last winter there may not be any form left for you to acquire this year, and all the improvements you can make have been made. So, how then to approach the remaining events and avoid completely cracking or burning out?

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Treading Water

It's going to happen to all of us at some point in year. Things are going well, you're on top of your form and riding strongly, and then it starts: scratchy throat, stuffy nose, itchy eyes-- that's it, you're sick! Many riders make the mistake of overtraining (or underresting) to get themselves vulnerable in the first place, and then don't give themselves enough time to fully recover from fear of losing fitness. Both approaches are recipes for an early end to your season.

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Surviving The Trainer

If there's one thing I can't endure, it's working out indoors. For me, the enjoyment in cycling isn't just the essence of training. It's about being outside, seeing different roads and landscapes, and racing. I always prefer playing sports to "working out" so riding the windtrainer in the winter is the pinnacle of drudgery. I would rather ride outside in 33 degrees and rain than strap myself to a machine indoors.

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Sprinting For Success

In my last article, I described the outline of the base training period. One aspect that I intentionally left out was sprinting. Sprint workouts are a feature that can and should be part of your training year-round, and they merit an article of their own. It's an aspect that many riders neglect, or often do incorrectly if they do try to include them. Making a well-designed sprint workout part of your weekly routine is crucial for any cyclist who not only wants to increase their speed, but their strength and power as well.

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