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

 

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)
 
 

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Blog, Training, Uncategorized

The Art of Climbing – Unlock your best

I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life to help people improve their cycling, and climbing is almost always at the top of their lists of challenges.  Every rider I work with needs to improve their Climbing, from Century rides, Gravel Grinders, Cyclocross to RAMROD to STP, it is the focus for most riders.  I was lucky to learn to climb early when I moved to Colorado and began racing road in the mountains, everyone who races there is a great climber.  My 2nd race was the Mt. Evans hillclimb (highest paved road in US over 14,000ft) and when I was a pro mountain biker I won a WorldCup medal for 3rd place with the best in the world racing up Mammoth Mountain, so climbing has been my cycling “thesis” and major area of study since 1987.

Climbing requires more than just fitness, I have coached some of the fittest riders around and often is is more subtle techniques like mental “fueling”, pedal stroke or fueling correctly that makes the biggest difference.  Climbing will test you and *can* bring out the best in you, it can also allow you to find ways to give up early.  

If you are trying to unlock your best climber, start with where you are with your fitness now and accept your ability and limitations as starting points.  You have a pattern of how you climb, and if you want to improve there are a number of things you can look at BESIDES your training/fitness level to be sure you are climbing as well as you can:

1.  Pedal stroke optimization

2.  Breathing techniques for steady and hard climbing

3.  Posture and hand position

4.  Bike fit to allow full power

5.  Pacing tools to fit terrain

6.  Shifting smooth transitions and cadence

7.  Standing skills, recovery and full-gas

8.  Fueling precision 

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Coach Articles, Tips and Tricks, Training, Uncategorized

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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