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!