Blog, Coach Articles, Cycle U News, Dean's Letter, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized

Bring the HEAT!

Hello Cycling Friends,

Well, it was a wet Winter and I hope you are enjoying getting out on the roads as much as I am. We had a fantastic Chelan training camp in mid May which is always my kick-off to outdoor riding after riding almost exclusively on the indoor trainers all Winter. I have to report that after the agony of the first long hilly day where my body was screaming “what? more than an hour in this position? 6 hours?! How can we hold good form this long?” I felt better each day and the camaraderie and fun of riding in “little Italy” for 5 days with great people really boosted my spirits. I also set a new PR on the dreaded McNeil Canyon, and at 54 years old I have to say that felt pretty darn good.

This time of year it is all about hitting the big training rides and events to “see what your body can do” and working on weak areas of the skill sets that apply to your target goals. Here are the 2 little things I taught people at Chelan Camp and in our recent outdoor classes to improve their cycling:

#1. Double shift, when you finish a descent or fast section and hit the hill, you are grabbing easier gears with the right shifter, till you are at the end. Then you go to shift into the smaller chainring and “$*#(@#^!! my chain is off – or my legs spin out of control and I lose my momentum!” Here is how it works: when in the big ring and easiest gear on back and the hill starts, don’t just shift into the small ring, shift BOTH from the big to small chainring AND from the largest/easiest cog on the rear wheel down a couple gears with the right shifter at the same time. Your chain will stay on as you improve your chain-line and you will be in a good gear without dropping to a gear that is too easy and spin out. Some mechanics talk about “cross chaining” and I say it is bunk! Your bike should work in every gear if adjusted correctly and your job is to ride it and work hard, not be distracted with what your chain line is doing. Of course the new 1 x drive-trains coming from mountain biking will solve all this in the near future, but until then, try the double-shift on your next ride.

#2. Corner with your eyes. You have the best balance with your head level. Your inner ear will help you maintain balance but if you look down, you lose your natural ability to make small balancing adjustments. Try it just walking or running, try to navigate a less than smooth surface by looking down, then look up further and use your peripheral vision to see the trail below you. This is just as important on the bike where things happen much faster.

For these and deeper training and skill tips, schedule a private lesson with me to unlock your best cycling and hill climbing.

See you on the Roads!

Coach Craig

Blog, Coach Articles, Cycle U News, Dean's Letter, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized

Seattle Cycling in the Winter

Well, old man Winter is here and only the hearty or foolish are outside riding their bikes today. I just finished up the local Cyclocross season and although I didn’t get as skinny as I wanted, I certainly went faster than I had expected. Cyclocross is fun only because you are doing it with a group, is isn’t the kind of thing you would go out and do by yourself, that is called Gravel Grinding or Mountain biking. Cross is fantastic because you work really hard, but aren’t out there all day getting soaked, you warm up, ride hard, then get dry and get a beverage in your hand. I ask my coaching clients to write out the answers to the following 2 questions after the end of every season:
What worked?
What didn’t?

For me, what worked was more road miles in the summer. Looking back on Strava I was riding 10-12 hours a week this Summer vs 5-6 hours the previous couple Summers, and that road fitness certainly helped me. I also adopted a Paleo diet this year, which was another surprise in that I felt and performed great on a much higher level of protein in my diet.

What didn’t work for me was missing road races. Most of my miles were commuting and teaching miles on the bike, with the bedrock being 2 indoor rides a week at the shop. If I really want to get faster I need to keep building my “engine” and that is what road racing does the best. I also remained 10 lbs heavier than my goal, and losing that extra weight would certainly help the power/weight ratio for next season, and make it a bit easier to see myself in the mirror (a tan would help as well).

I am now focused on putting together all of our outdoor classes and camps for 2017 and will have them finalized by weeks end, along with an updated indoor training guide for those of you indoors with us through the winter. We are doing some exciting coaching thanks to updates in the software we use to track and give you feedback on your performance. My goal for those who come to our classes is 10-20% improvement over the next 20 weeks.

Just like a few of the top Triathlete’s in the world who only ride indoors except for their races, I am now in the same boat, only riding our indoor classes 3 times a week for the next 3 weeks till Cyclocross Nationals, where I will see how well I can do from the back row starting position.

See you on the trainers!

Coach Craig

P.S. Almost forgot, if you are looking for that last minute gift, you can always get your loved one’s a gift card from Cycle U, any amount and good on anything from a bike fit, coaching, indoor classes or a tune up. You can print it out or email it to them or both: CLICK HERE FOR GIFT CARD


1000% …can you?

Have you ever given 1000%?  Have you heard of a 10x goal?  Setting a goal that is 10x higher than where you are now?  I love this kind of goal because it raises the bar and although I don’t advocate going there often, it is a useful coaching image whether coaching yourself of working with your cycling coach.

I have been thinking of 1000% because that is how I explain how to start a Cyclocross race to my students. 100% is a comfortable level of suffering, but 1000%?  Get on YouTube and watch the start of a pro Cyclocross race.  That is epic suffering and done in the right amount you can find fantastic gains when applying this mindset to yourself at the right time.  Here is a question, what would giving 1000% look like for you to tackle your toughest challenge?  Could you apply that kind of focus to your next important workout or event?


Give it a try on something small.  Work your way up and focus the laser 1000% on your next big assignment and let me know how it goes.  Hey, if you only get to 101% it is higher than most people will dare to try!

Yours on the road (and indoors)

Coach Craig

Blog, Cycle U News, Dean's Letter, Training, Uncategorized

How to not get sick when training and racing your bike

I have a few tricks that keep me healthy when the season’s turn and I am pushing my body to the max in training and/or racing.  Over the years of having young kids around the house, training hard, racing and traveling, the one thing I have realized that might help me the most to keep improving is the ability to make adjustments to my eating and nutrition to stay healthy when I start to reach “the edge”, which is where most people get sick and lose weeks or months of time.  Here are 2 of my favorite secret weapons:

Wellness formula either in tablet or capsule (I prefer the tablet but found a deal on these capsules with my new favorite shopping service THRIVE delivery) and Emergen-C or this similar product to take with water a few times a day when I am feeling run-down and  on the verge of getting sick.

For myself, feeling a slight sore or swollen throat, frequent sneezing, mucous, change in taste of foods and less hunger all are signs to me to increase or start supplementing with these 2 items.  I also take these more when I am flat out pushing the envelope of sleep, training or stress.  

Hydration is also paramount and as the weather starts to cool off, and these vitamin C packs are a perfect addition to your daily diet to boost liquid consumption.  I start to have herbal tea in the evenings to be sure I stay hydrated, and of course I start each day with warm water with a 1/3rd lemon squeezed into it as I have talked about in previous posts.

I also recommend a good quality multivitamin on a daily basis for insurance.  I also supplement with Udo’s oil about 1tbsp per 50 pounds of body weight in a smoothie.  When we push our bodies on the bicycle, we can go beyond normal requirements for nutrition  because we demand so much more from each cell in our body.  

My goal is to stay 100%  sickness free.  On days/weeks when I have any of the above warning signs I try to do less physically as well, drive more vs. commuting by bike, sit when I can and focus on drinking hot liquids that don’t contain caffeine.

I remember times earlier in my racing career when I would not listen to the warning signs, keep pushing, get sick and not be ready to train hard again for 1-2 weeks.  Then I am building back slowly vs. being able to train hard again after a 3-4 day rest block.  

Rest blocks are also key to let your connective tissue and muscles get fully recovered to avoid overuse or injury.   I generally recommend taking 3-5 days off every 3rd week of hard training.  It is ideal to build these rest blocks into travel days or times when you would naturally not be able to ride as much.

Along with smart training, resting is the #1 booster of performance.  Rest as hard as you train, and follow the tips above to stay healthy and keep the upward spiral of improvement and progress rolling without losing time to sickness.

Spin to win!

Coach Craig



Cyclocross Cross CX – Go Time!

Hello Cross Faithful, time to start your engines!
As many of you know we have 2 options this year besides our regular individual coaching and bike fitting for Cross.  For newer Cross racers we have the full bootcamp with weekly training and massive drilling of the fundamentals beginning August 2nd(see below).  For experienced Crossers we have the more custom CX/XTC Coaching program with more independent training and selected group days.  Both are the same price at $299.  Hope you can join us!3rd_State_Champs_50_years_old_500_333.jpg
I hope you have had a great “off” season, but if you are like me, there is no real off-season when you are passionate about Cross, just rest/recovery and then the rebuild for the next season!   The race schedules are finally up for MFG, Cross Revolution and others and I have been hard-at-it coming up with the next evolution of our Cross bootcamp for those of you that have been through our program and want more.   I looked at what I really need and narrowed it down to 3 key things for massive improvement:
-the right training plan built around my schedule
-race simulations that will get me *more* than ready for the races, with exaggerated challenges. 
-previewing courses I will race on to practice the toughest sections at speed

OPTION #1:  
CX/XTC Cyclocross Extreme Coaching, and we have partnered with the Wednesday NightWorlds at the North SeaTac course and added in more personal customized approach to achieve the 3 keys above. Here is what is included:
  1. 1-1 meeting with Coach Craig to set your custom individual plan for the season, built around your schedule and races ($150 normally).  Diet, core, yoga and strength training for Cross included. 
  2. Cross specific bike fit check and pedal stroke analysis ($150 normally)
  3. 3 intense Cross immersion training sessions with indoor and outdoor training lasting 3 hours Saturday August 6th20th September 10th ($100 normally)
  4. Wednesday night World Championships North SeaTac for pre-season Cross Racing on August 24th and 31st & September 7th and 14th ($60)
  5. Unlimited indoor wattage based Sufferfest and new CX/XTC Computrainer workouts as part of your program either with us or on your own July 1 – October 1 at Sand Point Cycle U ($160)
  6. Course preview workouts:  Lake Sammamish, Woodlawn Park, North SeaTac, Silver Lake, Marymoor, Magnuson ($120)
  7. The beauty of this program is that all elements of your preparation are coordinated in your personalized training plan, built to address your unique needs/schedule and goals and integrating group training and race simulations prior to the season to hold you accountable.  Pure quality training and no fluff.
Separate cost for this program: over $700 – Your cost less than half $299.  Your $100 refundable deposit holds your spot, limited to 20 riders.  Once you sign up I will email you to set up your first appointment.

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