Racing your bike Part #2 Middle of the Pack – now what?

Part 2:  OK, you now can survive a race, hopefully you learned to draft and conserve so you can see the finish line with the rest of the herd.  If you came into racing with a strong cycling background, it is possible that you won races, went right to the front of the pack, towed everyone around and still won.  This is good and bad, good cause it is fun, bad cause you probably didn’t learn much so you might still be the same skill level as when you started.  This can come back to bite you now that you are riding up at the next level.

For normal people, you spend time getting strong enough to survive, now you want to try to go for a mid race prime (prize) or see if you can finish in the top 1/3 of the results.  You have enough strength and skill to survive, now you just need to use it smartly to best the others in your group.  This is where reading the pack really comes to the fore.  Here are some basics to live by:

1.  Only move up when it is slow and try to find a wheel to get you up the pack instead of doing it yourself.

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This weeks free clinics and rides at Cycle U

This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am.  We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem.  Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!

Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop.  This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side.  We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder.  Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.

Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend. 

Ride with Cycle U


Other upcomming free events in May:

How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance. 
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop. 

Try Road Racing!  Clinic at Pacific Raceways.  info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways 

How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.

Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.

Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop.   Link to sign up, limited seating

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Push the pedals down…ALL the way down

The thing that most new cyclists don’t know, is that they won’t die.  They can push harder than they can imagine, and when I started racing I remember it was my biggest hurtle, learning how to suffer more, because that is where all the big gains are.  The more I pushed myself, the more I was able to push myself, the stronger I got, the more I enjoyed riding.  It helps if you get a little angry or remember when someone was mean to you, fuel for the effort.  Your not going to fall off the bike even if you are near exhaustion, your already sitting down! 

 The focus and willingness to work hard…

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Weight Loss and Cycling

March 1, 2009

by Coach Lang Reynolds


Like most American kids, I participated in a lot of sports when I was growing up.  Over the years, I have played basketball, baseball, football, ultimate, and lacrosse.  I have rowed crew, ran cross country and track, wrestled, and raced bikes.  Amont those I was exposed to, I eventually gravitated towards the endurance sports, and over the last ten years have spent most of my time outside either running or riding my bike.

Cycling and running are both fantastic sports; I am very thankful to have discovered them at a relatively early age and have already enjoyed a decade of participation.  They also have in common, however, something you don’t get in stick-and-ball sports: a certain neurosis (shared with their sister sport triathlon) at the competitive level with regard to body weight (surpassed only by another sport in which I’ve participated, wrestling, which gives most every participant a bona fide eating disorder by the time they graduate).

This obsession stems from the cruel reality of the physical laws we all learn in high school (you must produce a force to accelerate your mass) and also from the many images of the sports’ archetypes and heroes.  Take Lance Armstrong’s famously meticulous weighing of food on a gram scale, or the incredibly gaunt Janez Brajkovic, celebrating his second place in last October’s Giro di Lombardia.  This image has changed over time: compare, for example, Eddy Merckx, Raymond Poulidor, or Bernard Hinault with Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov, or Carlos Sastre.

In looking at these images of athletes at the top level of the sport, we must understand a few important facts.  Putting aside the question of doping (a whole can of worms for another day), these athletes are professionals for a reason, namely that they are prodigiously talented.  This is not to say that they do not train and prepare vigorously, but simply that a high level of talent is a prerequisite for achievement at the top level of the sport.  Talent has many facets, one of which is body type.  Simply put, the Darwinian process of victory has selected for athletes that not only have huge engines but are also predisposed to being relatively skinny.  More importantly, though, is the fact that being at the top level of the sport requires attention to every detail that affects performance.  They have already maximized the effectiveness of their training, perfected their position on the bike, and ensured the relative supremacy of their equipment.

During almost every group ride or training session I overhear talk of losing weight or being overweight, and I must confess being guilty of participating in such talk at times.  When it comes down to it, however, performance gains realized through weight loss are usually quite small, depending on how much weight an athlete has to lose, especially compared to the performance gains realized by concentrating on increasing sustainable power.  Even on a climb such as Crystal Mountain, the state Hill Climb Championship course, a 5 lb weight loss is easily out-matched by a 7 watt gain in sustainable power for an average rider.  Moreover, the side effects of trying to cut weight too quickly and the reduced quality of life inherent in counting calories can also outweigh the potential performance gains.  In other words, chill out people.  Significant progress can be made simply by maximizing your nutritional regime with respect to your training as well as general food intake.  Rather than thinking simply about weight as holding us back or something to reduce, we should think more broadly about general health and proper nutrition first.  You will probably not be able to “diet” your way to being faster on the bike, but if you take a hard look at what you put into your body and ensure you eat a selection of highly nutritious food and leave out those foods we know are “bad” for us, you will enjoy better overall health and weight loss will probably follow.

I am not a nutritionist, and there is plenty of information out there on healthful nutrition for the endurance athlete.  It’s pretty simple, though:  eat food that our bodies can use efficiently and provide valuable nutrients in addition to calories, and don’t eat those that do not (refined sugars, alcohol, refined grains, etc); time food consumption around ride time; eat moderate amounts.

Body weight is, strictly speaking, a component of performance.  It is, however, one small component that frequently receives far more attention than it deserves among other components that have a much larger return on investment for improving performance, in terms of time and energy spent.  Here in the endurance sport community, we need to re-frame the topic of weight loss in terms of overall nutrition and health.  For all the time spent thinking about how much weight we need to lose, going on a diet, breaking that diet, bonking on a training ride, we could be thinking about and affecting real changes in our complete nutrition that benefit our overall health and are sustainable for years down the road.