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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

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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

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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

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Staying Cool on your bike #2

Skip the warm-up
When the temperatures are at or above 80-90 degrees, there’s really no reason to put in much of a warm up. You’ll probably find that it won’t take long for your muscles to warm up so I would recommend trying to stay cool. Stay in the shade, pour cold water over your head and onto your shorts and jersey. In even more extreme temperatures, I have used ice in my jersey as well as in stockings stuffed down the back of my jersey.
 
Staying cool
When you’re racing in temperatures over 90 degrees, heat exhaustion is a real health concern that I’ve personally experienced and is not to be taken lightly. If you start to get nauseous, dizzy or foggy/start to black out, then you are past ‘the point of no return’ and you should stop riding immediately and get cooled off as soon as possible. No matter how acclimated one is to the temperature, there is a maximum amount of time in those temperatures one can exhaust themselves in so don’t take temperature extremes for granted under any circumstance.
 
Hydration
Part of staying hydrated also has to do with the proper amount of electrolytes in the liquids that you’re ingesting.  The hotter it is, the more sweat and electrolytes will be drawn from your body.  If you start a ride, whether it’s hot or not, already dehydrated, there is no physically possible way for you to make that up during the ride. Always start any physical activity properly hydrated and again, listen to your body for how often you need to drink. 
 
Sipping more frequently is better than gulping infrequently for several reasons: it’s easier on your system to absorb water and electrolytes if taken in smaller and more spaced out amounts and also if you’re already taxing your body in extreme temperatures, adding another ‘pressure’ of having to deal with GI distress is only going to make your body’s ability to sustain the endurance &/or effort that much harder.
 
For a complete description of signs, symptoms and preventive measures to take for heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat stress conditions the Center for Disease Control has a complete list here.

 

*”Heat Acclimation improves exercises performance” published in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology
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Coach Articles, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized

Beat the Heat – on your bike

I’m originally from Utah (this is Heather Neilson the new Coach and sales person at Cycle U) where the temperatures swing to more extremes than they do in either Northern California or the Pacific Northwest where I live now. However, riding or racing in higher temperatures than what you are used to can cause anyone to experience negative heat related consequences with a concurrent decrease in performance depending on how acclimated you are. 
 
In other words, it doesn’t have to reach 100 degrees while doing an outdoor activity for you to experience heat related illness.  You become acclimated to whatever climate you are living and riding in over a fairly short period of time; and you may find that you struggle riding in temperatures than you previously had very little trouble tolerating if it is new once again.
ridingintheheat
Photo compliments Erik Cho
Acclimating
The time it will take to acclimate to the heat is individual and you will need to pay attention to your body to decide how to ride that line.  As a guide however, there was a study performed by human physiology researchers at the University of Oregon wherein it was discovered that large physiological gains can be achieved in trained cyclists by doing 90 minute easy rides in high heat for 10 days.* 
 
 It’s not necessary to ride in the heat every day. The main idea is to acclimate slowly over time in either temperature extreme and learn to listen to your body. So very much like the rest of training, listening to your body is an absolutely necessary skill to have, now get out there and gradually get used to it!

Stay tuned for the next segment, Staying COOOL!  

 

 

 
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