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

Blog, Coach Articles, Dean's Letter, Product Reviews, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized

Who knows what tomorrow shall bring…

I taught a private lesson this week to a new rider, someone who is very tentative on the bike.  We started with the basics on the stationary trainer.  How to stand up on the pedals while coasting and going straight, this might seem very basic, but I always tell clients that I can find people who cannot do what they can do, there are many who cannot even balance on 2 wheels! We all have our “next challenge” and whether you have been riding 2 months or 30 years, there is always something new to work on and master.

Coasting was a new skill and it took some time to get comfortable with it, check.  Done after 20 minutes of practice and some changes to make the bike fit better.  #2, Braking, how to shift weight back and really stop quickly, and then get a foot down.  Not that easy, key is to start without being clipped in so you can put either foot down quickly.  

We went on from there eventually adding clip-less pedals and tackling hills, but the thing that struck me, and that usually suprises me is how many small things you must master to really enjoy cycling.  It is a technical sport, but once we master it we forget it was ever a problem and often end up on a plateau where we stop learning.  

Where are you at and what do you need to work on to get to the next level?  What are you focused on improving this season?  Going faster downhill?  Cornering more confidently, tackling steeper hills, riding no-hands, bunny hopping, jumps, some kind of new genre of cycling, standing up and jamming up VERY steep roads or trails, drafting off of a good rider at speed?  Pick an area and focus on it, spend time working on it and soon you will step up to the next level and love cycling even more.  There are always challenges to keep you sharp and progressing.

Spin to win,

Coach Craig

Blog, Coach Articles, Cycle U News, Training, Uncategorized

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)
 
 

Continue reading

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.  
Continue reading