Blog, Coach Articles, Dean's Letter, Uncategorized

You have something you are really good at…DO THAT!

I have been coaching racers for a long time to great success, but I have had a couple clients who didn’t respond to my coaching because they were trying to race events that didn’t suit their talents. This story is about one such racer, and Cycle U  as a bike shop and how we had been experiencing mediocre results because we didn’t listen to our coaches and focus 100% on what we were born to do, create better bike riders.  On October 1st that all changed as we launched Cycle U 2.0 and partnered with Westside Bicycle.

Coach Craig with Junior at old Huling Brothers location West Seattle 2010

Back in 98 I was coaching a young racer, I’ll call him “Greg”, and as part of a coaching package along with a bike fit we also did our normal performance test.  This consists of a hard hilly 10k simulation on the computrainer followed by a 30 second “all out” effort that begins with a full sprint.  From this we measure average wattage, peak wattage, heart rate and then prescribe training.  He came to me because he loved the idea of long road races like in the Tour de France with epic climbs, long breakaways and all the spectacle of road racing.  When I tested him something became immediatly apparent…he was a Sprinter, not a road racer.  His max wattage was the highest I had ever tested, and his watts/kilo “climbing predictor” was so low it would take a miracle for him to finish tough hilly road races.  

We spent the next few years trying to get good finishes in the road races he loved and dreamed about, but to no avail, it ended in frustration and mediocre results despite hard training and effort.  If he would have just focused on track sprinting at the outset as I had suggested, he would have been an amazing racer and who knows how far he would have gone, but he followed his dream and learned it was much harder than he had imagined.  
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When should I take a break?

By: Heather Nielson

Taking breaks is essential to growth. One of the most annoying things I read or hear is ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead!’ Something always has to give. Always. Whether it’s a natural law of the universe or our biology, it’s just the way it is. The sooner you recognize that truth, learn to listen to your body and schedule in down time as a priority, the healthier, more productive and happier you’ll be.

The same is obviously true then for the athlete. Taking a break is an absolutely necessary part of any athlete’s training program.

 If you’re working with a coach, then it’s more than likely they will schedule ‘rest’ weeks into your training plan. Listening to your body is still your responsibility and so is communicating with your coach you’re feeling & responding to the training.

Training software, as progressive, high-tech & all-sorts-of-data-goodness-fun it is, cannot account for life stress ‘TSS’ scores. Your adrenal, neuro-muscular and immune systems are intrinsically tied to your stress level; and what’s more, those systems can’t differentiate between physical training stress and emotional, work, family, life stress. The same hormones get pumped through your system.

Keeping recovery a priority will be your biggest defense against over-training, sickness, burn-out, lack of motivation & stagnation in fitness.

If you want the most out of your legs, your work productivity, personal relationships, fun with friends then you must make down-time a daily priority.

  • Sleep is one of the most powerful forms of recovery
  • Meditate for 5 minutes twice a day
  • Turn all electronics off for 30-60′ a day (don’t worry, facebook will still be there when you get back…..)
  • Go for a short walk
  • Take a nap
  • Read a book
  • Chat with a friend on the phone

Recovery is the most important part of training!


Balancing your bicycle

By: Heather Nielson

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” ~Albert Einstein


This quote has become a large part of the bicycle culture memography and appears with frequency both on the walls of many a bike shop and bicycle loving home. but is also pervasive on the internet & social media.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I’m less than a month into my dream job that has taken me no less than 6 years, 4 moves, 2 states, starting & then ending my own coaching company and all the experience along the way to finally obtain; that staying balanced on a bike can be just as hard as balancing actually riding your bike with the rest of your life.

While I still continue to train hard(er) as a competitive Cat 1 bike racer, it no longer dominates my thoughts, relationships & time like it used to. As a good friend of mine said recently as we discussed how it’s possible that I’m able to train like ‘this’ and hold a full time management position job:

“Life is like bike racing. It keeps getting harder, but you keep getting better at hard.”

Has the training gotten easier? The same? No, it’s harder. Has my job gotten easier? The same? Nope, that’s harder too. Yet I am able to do it both now.

How is this possible?

Keep moving forward and you get better at moving forward and you get faster at moving forward.

  • Learn to say no & stop wasting energy and time on people and things that waste energy and time. Don’t feel guilty or bad, just learn to set boundaries in the best and polite way possible but also realize, you’re not going to make everyone happy, and that’s just the way it is.
  • Learn to be present and follow your path. These two statements mean so much to me that I got them tattooed on my left forearm. They are very simply said but two of the most difficult practices I attempt every second of every day.
  • Learn to listen to your body, mind and soul and recover when you need to. At the end of the day, no one cares as much about you and your health as you do. No one. Sometimes you have to dig a little hole in your energy bank but make sure you know how deep you can dig before you have to take a break; and only you can know that and only you can stop yourself. This goes back to point #1 of setting boundaries.
  • Learn to compartmentalize & stay focused. When you’re in the moment of whatever task you’re doing, you are at your most productive. If you’ve already scheduled out a certain amount of time for a training ride, answering work e-mails, spending time with friends or even taking a nap, be 100% there so you can stay focused, productive & not worry about the future (your never-ending-to-do-list-that-runs-through-your-brain-24/7…STOP THAT). This goes back to points #1 & 2.
  • There is nothing more important than a true friend and the most important part of anyone’s life are the relationships they have. Think about that one for awhile.

I’m no expert at life and there is no one magic formula and things aren’t black and white, but if even one sentence of this post helps you, then it was worth writing.