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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

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

 

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Have you thought about racing your bike?

So, you are getting faster on your bike.  When you started maybe you were averaging 8-10 mph on your longer rides, but now that that you have been training for STP, RSVP, Flying Wheels and similar events your average speed is getting closer to 15+ mph on longer rides and you are wondering what the next step is?
 
I finished STP in one day in 1985 with 10 friends from the UW and after that I was so hooked I started hanging out at bike shops and reading every bike article I could find.  Racing seemed risky and way beyond my ability, so I was happy to just study it.
 
When I moved to Colorado after College, I began working at the Moots bike shop and they began taking me out after work to show me how to *really* ride.  I learned how to race from those guys, and when the Steamboat Stage race came to town that Summer I was ready to try my first race.  
 
In the NW there are many races, but these 3 are the best choices for new riders :
 
1.  Cyclocross 
2.  Pacific Raceways or Seward Park weekly races, SBRP*
3.  Jerry Baker Velodrome 
*Sprint Triathlon and Mountain Biking are other common ways people start racing, but they require a Mountain Bike or you have to like swimming and running. 
 
 
 
 

Beginning racer clinic at Pacific Raceways

Here is how to tell which is best for you:
 
-Do you ride with racer types or HPC on the road and keep pace with them?  (#2 or 3 above)
-Do you have a mountain or cyclocross bike and like the dirt?  (#1, the safest and best intro to racing that will also make you a better rider on the road)
 
 

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

Dean’s Letter: Make Yourself Do It

CrossMud

I gave my 1000th racing class this week on a typical rainy Seattle day. I taught a few new guys the ropes, told them about protecting their front wheel, riding straight and predictable, looking before moving around. I described how the pack moves like an amoeba and explained how to save energy by drafting off your fellow riders. For almost an hour I gave them racing tips as we rolled over the course to get warmed up and scout out obstacles. Then it was time to decide whether to race or not.

In my class advertisements I say that I ride with my students, but I have a personal policy not to race in the rain at Pacific Raceways. Cars leave so much oil on the roadway that racing in the rain can get sketchy fast. But I made a commitment to ride, so I donned an extra layer and headed to the start line. I would race with my students, at least for a lap or two.

On the first lap I was yelling comments out to all the riders. This was a beginner race, so I had plenty of coaching to do. Road grit and water clung to my teeth, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. I noticed one of our guys was fading fast so I drifted to the back of the pack, giving him a wheel to focus on catching. By the end of the circuit, he had pushed forward and rejoined the group.

The race gained intensity on the second lap and we split into two groups. I tried to glue the pack back together, encouraging my racers to work steadily so they didn’t overexert themselves early on.

Our third lap around, my straggler was barely hanging on. He was struggling to keep up but gritted his teeth and stayed with the group up the hills. The other riders were doing fine, so I stayed back to support him. As we were approaching the next big downhill I yelled for him to stay back, but he powered to the front. He was first on the descent, but he had ignored racing tip #74: Don’t attack on the downhill when you are tired. You will get chewed up in the ascent and spit out the back of the group. Sure enough, it was his last lap anywhere near the chase group.

One of the lighter riders in our group made similar mistakes. She was blown back on downhill stretches by heavier riders with more momentum, but climbed back to the front every time. I explained to her that on descents it is better to stay behind the rider you are following, even if you are 20 feet apart. The draft has a tail which helps you coast up into the bottom of the next hill, making it easier to climb. After giving her a few tips I moved on, coaching my way around the chase group.

Before I knew it, we were on the last lap and I had done the whole wet miserable race, loving every minute of it. I was reminded that the hardest part can be convincing yourself to just get out there and go for it. I am so glad I didn’t talk myself out of racing before I had a chance, and I hope you do the same. Putting your nose out there and going for it is the only way you will find out how much fun you would have missed.

C U on the Road,

Craig Undem