The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 8.28.15. “Friday Night Lights Are Out”

•August 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Yay! Friday!

In honor of the Bellevue High Cluster F**k


I just listened to Buzz Bissinger talk about the B’vue nonsense, and he described it as “Much worse than anything in Friday Night Lights”, which – if you’ve read the book – is pretty scary.

Big team sports, big team problems.

When people complain that cyclocross and the other cycling disciplines don’t get the “respect” of the major team sports in the US (and they do this a lot) maybe it’s worth thinking about the advantages derived from being out of the glare of the spotlight. Lots less nonsense like the above when the money and the prestige and the bulls**t aren’t driving the sport.

I think it’s worth bearing in mind that it took the top-fuel monstrosity of Lance, Inc. to bring cycling as a sport even close to the mainstream consciousness of the US. Did the cheating drive the success, or did the success drive the cheating? Don’t know, don’t care.

Just know I’d trade the “success” for the perversion of fair play in a red second.

So, let’s keep cross weird, shall we?



We’ve been hitting it pretty hard this week – and, yup, last week – so today I’m going to suggest you take it pretty easy.

Maybe even think about taking the day off.

It’d be good timing, as – once again – I’m going to suggest you hit it pretty hard this weekend, and you aren’t likely to have too many race-free weekends in the immediate future, which means you won’t have too many more Fridays devoid of concerns of bike maintenance and race prep.

So, enjoy a day off.

You deserve it.



I knew it.

You ain’t going to take a day off, are you?

Figured as much.

OK, fine.

We ran yesterday, and as mentioned last week, I like to do some foot-speed work the day after a running workout.

So, since you insist on riding today, let’s do some…

Spin Ups –

– Get on your bike and warm up with a leisurely spin, 10-20 minutes.

– After you’re warm, find a nice, long, flat or slightly downhill section of road with little or no traffic.

– Begin interval by rolling into it at a moderate speed, in a gear that’s smaller than you would typically use to sprint.

– Get out of the saddle and sprint.

– Spin the gear up out of the saddle. When your leg speed gets to the point where it’s hard to maintain, sit down and keep going until you are totally spun-out. We’re talking  fast, can’t turn ‘em over any faster…

Think Road-Runner fast…

– Repeat x 3-5

Recover for 5 minutes, rolling around at a leisurely pace.

– Go again, same thing.

Recover, then repeat as time and fitness allow. Shoot for 3-5 sets of  3-5.




Hey! Tomorrow is the Washington Women Of Cross event at St Edwards park. I’ll be out there cheering everybody on, say “Hi” if you see me.




As always, please check out…


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 8.27.15. “Just Sayin’…”

•August 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

We’ve been doing some running the last couple of Thursdays, and today we’re going to stick with that trend.

Yup, running.

Like it or not, it’s part of cyclocross, so you need to be able to run at least a little bit.

…or at least not fall completely to pieces when it comes time to dismount and get yer ass up and over something you can’t ride.

As I’ve written here in the past, running simply isn’t as important in contemporary, US cyclocross as it has been in the past, and still is in some specific areas.

If you live in Belgium or the Netherlands, and you’re going to have races this season where you spend 1/4 the race off the bike slogging through impassable mud or up and down sand dunes, then you probably need to be a pretty damn good runner to be competitive.

In the US though?

Not so much.

In our races, the amount of time we spend off the bike is so small relative to the amount of time we spend on the bike, it’s rarely worthwhile to devote time and energy to running that could be better spent working on your cycling.

It’s a bike race.

A bike race that requires you to get off your bike occasionally, but it’s still a bike race.

So, ok. Running isn’t priority one.

It’s probably not even priority two.]

But you still need to do it, so we’re going to work on it, and working on it now before the season starts is a good time to do it.

So, what kind of running work should you be doing?

Well, what kind of running are you doing in your races?

For most people, the answer to that question is “really short efforts up steep hills, muddy inclines, and bits of stairs.”

So, as in all things training, think specificity.

Train for what you need to do in the races.

Why go out and do a bunch of 5k runs when what you need to be good at is 5-10 second efforts up the side of a muddy hill?

Makes no sense, right?

That’s why we do…

Stair Work…

First, figure out where you can do this. Since we’re going to be running stairs, you probably need some stairs, or a small hill, or a grassy knoll – something you can run up. Stairs are best, but whatever you can come up with will work.

You don’t need NFL stadium stairs or anything crazy like that. Look for something that’s long enough to give you 10 seconds of running at a full sprint; That’ll be plenty long enough. We’re doing speed work, here. Short, sharp efforts.

Got a location?


Get on your bike and warm up for 15 minutes or so. Maybe ride on out to wherever you’re doing these.

Mosey on over to your stairs/knoll/whatever, and get set. Stretch, have a sip of water, turn up the volume on your Ipod.

Jog up the stairs. Walk down.

Get a sense for the spacing and “feel” of the stairs. You’re going to be flying up these things in a full-on lactic acid bath shortly, so you want to be comfortable and secure in your footing on whatever you’re running up. I’ve seen some pretty gruesome facial lacerations when people missed a step running up stairs in a fog of fatigue.

Don’t be that guy/gal.

– Repeat x5

– Sprint! up stairs, fast, using whatever stride is most comfortable. Walk down.

– Repeat x5

Rest for 1 minute, walking slowly up and down stairs.

– Sprint up stairs, this time using quick, tiny strides, 1 stairstep at a time. Walk down.

– Repeat x5

Rest again, same as before.

– Sprint up stairs, this time using long strides, several stairsteps at a time. Walk down.

– Repeat x 5

Rest again.

– Sprint up stairs, combining the previous two exercises – 1st time up, long strides; next time up, short strides, etc. Walk down.

Rest again, 2-5 minutes.

If this is your first time running stairs this season, that’s it. You’re done. Feel free – heck, feel obligated to stop early if you have any tweaks, twinges, or strange feelings in your legs.*

If you’ve got some running miles in ya’ already, repeat the entire damn thing until you just can’t do it anymore, or until you are going so slowly it’s ridiculous.

Get back on bike, spin out your legs, go home.

Notes –

The idea here is to get good enough at this to go really damn hard. If you do this right, it’s a brutal workout.

Don’t go that hard if it’s your first (or nearly first) time running stairs this season. Keep it under control. You want to build up to the point where you are going up the stairs in a dead sprint, and are completely gassed at the end of each set.

Hey, remember when you read that thing I wrote about “specificity” a few minutes ago?

If you live/race in the Seattle area, you may have noticed that the first “big” race of the season is the MFG opener at Lake Sam.

That race takes place largely on a waterfront, and it’s famous for having a (relatively) long running section on the sandy beach.

It might be a good idea to figure out a way to schlep your a** over to one of our many local beaches for a little bit of sand running in the couple of weeks we’ve got before the race.

Just saying…

(Not a Seattle area person? Scope out whatever races you’ll be debuting at this season. Got any notable running features in ’em? if so, replicate ’em in your training.)








Hey! Check out…


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 8.26.15. “You know what we call it?”

•August 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

What? It’s Wednesday already?!?!

You know what we call Wednesday around here?

Skills Day!

1 – warm up for 10 minutes.

2 – Stretch out after you’re warm.

Pay special attention to all the muscles used in those movements you make hopping on and off the bike that are different from what you usually do.

3 – Dismount/remount  skills for 5-10-15 minutes (depends how rusty you are. Do more of these, less of everything else if you need to.)

– Start at literally a walking pace, and slowly increase speed until you can mount and dismount the bike smoothly and perfectly at full speed. Do not jump on and off the bike, you are looking to smoothly slide yourself on and off.

 Need a refresher on the basics? Click here.

Do just the most  basic dismount/remount as per above until you have it wired, smooth at all speeds. When you are feeling confident, add some barriers to the session…

– Again, start at a super, super slow speed.

– Approach the barrier, dismount smooth as silk.

– Step over the barrier, paying attention to how you lift the bike, and how you place your feet.

– Remount. Again, think smoooooth….

– Start with a single barrier, move to a double, and keep going slow until you have things wired. Then, speed things up until you aren’t smooth, back it down 1 notch, and make it smooth.

(If you don’t have barriers, anything will do. Use a log, put a stick on the ground – whatever.)

4- Shouldering the bike.

Start with the basic dismount, as you’ve been working on.

Back things up a bit, and dismount again, but really focus on the “drift” phase of the dismount, where you are still clipped in with one foot, your off-side foot has already swung over the saddle, and you are coasting with your left hand on the bars and your right hand on the top tube.

Concentrate on the moment where your left foot unclips, and you drop to the ground. Try to coast with both feet unclipped, weight transferred onto the bike through your hand on the top tube, and your right ass-cheek against the side of the saddle.

Drop to the ground, literally. No big step, nothing dramatic, just drop to the ground.

– I don’t care if you “cowboy” your dismount, or “step-through” (right foot passes between left leg and frame.) Ideally you will work on both, and be equally competent, but there are riders on the World Cup circuit who neverdo a step through dismount, so… whatever.

Repeat, trying to coast with your weight on the top tube for a longer and longer period of time.

Got it wired?


This time, drop to the ground and swing the bike up onto your shoulder using the hand on the top tube (next week, down tube grab shouldering. Don’t worry about it right now.)

– Use both a palm-up and a palm-down grip on the top tube. Figure out which one works best for you.

– as you shoulder the bike, think about how you are going to carry it. There are really only two good options…

1 –

2 –

If you don’t look like one of these two pictures when the bike is on your shoulder… well, you should.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods of shoulder carry, and we’ll talk about them in a future post. For right now, though, just try ’em both and go with whatever is most comfortable.

For most people that winds up being the under-the-downtube method.

So, the bike is on your shoulder.


It doesn’t have to be uphill (we’re working on the skill, not the fitness, and you’re doing stairs tomorrow…) but it helps.

Whatever. Just run a few steps.

Place the bike gently on the ground. Don’t drop it, slam it down. Just place it.


Repeat the whole cycle until you’re sick of it, then on to…

5 – Starts.

Practice your starts, just like the beginning of a race. One foot on the ground, dead standstill, get-up-and-go.

Begin with a few medium effort starts, just to work on the mechanics. Round off your rough edges, and make sure you remember where the heck your pedals are.

When you start to get the feel for things, hit it hard a couple of times, then back off.

Here are some tips –

– Start with your pedals at 3&9 o’clock, not 12 and six.

It might take some practice if you’re used to starting with your pedals ant closer to 6 & 12, but it really is better and faster.

Every gate start event does it this way, and they do it for a reason, eh?

See what I mean?

-Try starting with your butt on the saddle, and your butt off the saddle. See what works best for you.

– Ditto, try starting with hands in the drops vs. hands on the hoods.

After you have tried a couple of variations at a medium/slow pace, get yourself set to go hard.

– Do 2 sets of six full-gas starts.

– short effort, just go long enough that you are up to full speed, then back down, turn around, go again.

6 – Recover for a few minutes, then Finish the night with two interval efforts on relatively easy terrain.

– “Easy” as in a loop on grass with some tight-ish turns on it, or some pretty buffed double-track.

– Go hard, and work on accelerations out of the turns.

– Every time you slow down entering a turn, get on the gas on the way out of it, ass out of the saddle, working hard.

– 6-8 minutes full gas, rest for 2 minutes, then go again for 5.

– Start each effort with, well… with a start. Like you were working on a couple of minutes ago…

Warm down, go home, relax.




Hey! Want to do some skills and drills with a cool group of folks?

Live in the Seattle area?

Come on out to…


It’s tonight!


As always, please check out…


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 8.25.15. “The Twist”

•August 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

It’s Tuesday! Guess what?

That means today we’re doing…

The Two x Twenty

…but with a twist!

Today we’re doing them…

Get Up Style.

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, at it’s most basic the 2×20 looks like this:

– Warm up.

– Go as hard as you can for 20 minutes.

– Recover for 5 minutes.

Go again for another 20 minutes.

The idea is to go as hard as you can for the duration of both intervals without being forced to go easier at the end of the second interval.

It’s all about doing two intervals.

Two intervals at as close to the same level of consistent, steady power output as you can manage.

If you’re doing this with a power meter, you want your wattage output to be as constant and unvaried as possible.

For both intervals.


How steady?

Can you keep it in a 10 watt range?

Probably not.

15 watts?

More likely

20 watts?


Keep it steady.

If you run out of gas before you finish the second interval, then you went too hard.

If your vision isn’t blurry at the end of the second interval, you went too easy. But guess what?
It’s way better to go too easy and finish both intervals than it is to go too hard and crater part way through the second 20.

That’s the basic version (and if you’re new to all this, it’s probably the version you should do.) Today, though?

Today we’re doing the get-up version, so…

Start your 20-minute interval out of the saddle, and stand for the first 30 seconds.

After those 30 seconds are up, sit down. Keep the effort going, and keep your level of output consistent.

Stay seated for the next 1:30, then stand for 30 seconds.

Repeat to the end of the interval, and follow this format for the next 20 minute interval.

Remember, the idea here is to go as hard as you can for the duration of both intervals without being forced to go easier at the end of the second interval.

If you’re doing this with a power meter, you want your wattage output to be as close to constant as possible, and the out of the saddle time we’re throwing in makes this even more challenging.

Keep it steady.

These take practice to do well, and the better you get, the harder they get, as your output level gets closer and closer to the absolute max you’re capable of doing for an interval of this duration.

Add in the constant standing and sitting component, and you’re going to know you did some work when you’re through.

I know I’m repeating myself, but do try to avoid the temptation to up the output level when you get out of the saddle, OK?

That’s an entirely different workout, and we’ll get there soon enough, I promise.

One of the things we’re learning with this workout is how to calibrate our out of the saddle efforts. We’re getting a better handle on what we’re actually doing when we stand up on the bike.

You need to know – really know – when you’re going harder and when you’re not.

What most people find when doing this workout is that every time they get out of the saddle their power output takes a big jump.

Which isn’t a huge surprise, because we largely train our bodies to correlate out of the saddle with “go time.”

The thing is, though?

Cyclocross ain’t road racing.

A lot of the time you’re getting out of the saddle not to accelerate, but due to a bike handling challenge.

Heck, in Cross if you get out of the saddle in a super sketchy tech section and really put the power down, pretty often that’s going to result in rear wheel slip and lack of traction, with the expected bad results.

Here’s a little secret:
One of the keys to good bike handling is having a really good understanding of how much power you’re producing, and the effect that has on your traction.

Step one to developing that understanding is getting a real feel for how your power output can change when you get out of the saddle.

Nothing will give you a better feel for that than this workout.

Make sense?

Especially since we’re trying to work on perception, not just output, this is a workout that works great on the trainer, and that’s how you should do ’em, if you can stand it. If not, really try to find the most vacant, flat, soulless terrain possible. The fewer the distractions the better.


– I do these on the trainer, with a stopwatch on the bars and an Ipod blaring in my ears. Start the stopwatch at the beginning of the interval, and the format is really easy to follow; you stand up for :30 at the 2:oo, 4:00, 6:00, etc. mark(s). Get it? It’s easy!

– A power meter will help you to keep the level of intensity constant. You want the power output to be as steady as possible with these. If you don’t have a PM, do these on the trainer,  choose a gear ratio and a cadence, and stick to that for the duration of the exercise – instant home made ergometer.





Don’t forget, if you live in the Seattle area, tomorrow night is number two in the CX Five training series…



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 8.24.15. “Roman Candle”

•August 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Happy Monday!

Based on the feedback I’ve gotten, it sounds like people have been training really hard. This Cross season is going to start out fast!

Let’s not overcook things this early, ok?

If you’re training hard, you need to rest at least as hard.

Recovery is part of the job, and if you mess this part of the job up, you can piss away all the gains you make in your training simply through fatigue and the inevitable downward spiral that occurs if you don’t recover and rebuild after your efforts on the bike.

If you race long enough, you’ll collect stories of the riders who came up through the ranks like roman candles…

…and came back down the same way; in flames.

As often as not, lack of rest and recovery was the fuel for those flames.

So don’t let that be you.

Today we go for a…

Recovery Spin –

– Get on your bike. Roll out into the street – or into your living room if you’re on the turbo – and just spin around for an hour.

– Really small gear, no hard efforts – heck, no medium effort.

– Spin. You’re looking to move your legs around in circles, almost like there is no chain on the bike.

– The idea is to get your body moving, flush the systems out, and speed your recovery.

– Just get out on the road and spin aimlessly. At a certain point, your legs suddenly feel better.

– As soon as that happens, turn around, go home, eat, stretch, and put your legs up.






The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 8.23.15. “Just Mostly”

•August 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, hell…

This is going up late in the morning -almost at noon, West Coast time – which is probably way too late to be useful for most folks on a Sunday.


Time to get back to my traditional late-night-the-day-before posting schedule.

I’ll get back on that starting this week, I promise!

Anyways, onward…

If you didn’t happen to do yesterday’s workout yesterday, that would be a good call for today.

If you did do yesterday’s workout, you might just find yourself feeling a bit tired today. I know I am!

Tomorrow you’re going to be doing nothing but a short recovery ride, so if you’re feeling a bit tired today, there are essentially two ways you can go:

– push through the fatigue and grind out another hard workout today, knowing you can rest tomorrow.

– back things off a bit, and take it easy today.

Which should you do?

Well, it depends.

How tired are you?

If you have a power meter, are you tracking your performance metrics and looking for signs of plateauing and excess fatigue?

Do you even know what I mean by that?

If not – and if you’re curious – drop me a note in the comments section. If people are interested, this is a topic we can discuss in more depth this season.

In short, though… when you were pounding over the climbs yesterday, were you able to hit wattage levels that were consistent with your historic norms?

If the answer is “yes”, then you’re probably good to go hard again today.

Try the same workout today, and see if you’re able to perform as well as – or maybe even better than – yesterday.

Answer “No” to the question about yesterday’s workout?

Back things down a bit today.

Hop on your cyclocross bike and go for a ride that emphasizes skills over fitness.

Work on your basic cross skills, or go play on some mountain bike-ey single track.

Have fun, and get better at some of the things that aren’t all about fitness and power output.

They’re an important aspect of your CX game, and a big part of what makes this sport so damn much fun.

It ain’t all about fitness.

Just… mostly.






The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Saturday, 8.22.15. “Epic Jacky”

•August 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy Folks,

Welcome to the weekend. Ready to get some riding in?

In the spirit of last week’s “Epic” theme, today we’re going to be a wee bit ambitious on the bike.

We’re going to have a…


Jacky Day.

This is a good general climbing and endurance workout that will stretch you a fair bit longer than anything you’re ever going to see out on the cross courses.

Heck, this is about as hard and sustained as you’ll ever see in a road race.

In fact, what we’re trying to do is, essentially, simulate a day off the front of a road race.


Select a route that will enable you to hit at least 3 climbs of  5-10 minutes or so each, with flat to rolling terrain in between. If your local climbs aren’t that long, try and do more shorter ones. If hills are longer… well, cool. Just don’t turn this into an all-out climbing day, ok?

Warm up well, at least 20-30 minutes before you hit the first climb.

Climbs should be hard but steady.

Start medium hard (not full gas!) and try and hold it the whole climb.

Drive it over the top, and roll down the descent. Visualize a prime at the bottom of each descent, and a chase pack nipping at your heels. Don’t sit up at the top of the climbs,stay on the gas all the way down and through.

In between climbs, keep it steady.

You want to stay on top of a pretty big gear, at a level that is below threshold, but not that far below.

If you’re a power meter type, with an ftp of 265, you would want to try and average about 200 watts between the climbs and 300 on the climbs.

Not a PM type? Try and go about 90% on the climbs, and just over 50% between the climbs.

Remember, 3 climbs of 10 minutes, or the equivalent. With a warm up of 15-20 minutes, and a cool down of about the same, this would be just about perfect for a 2.5 hour ride.

Got more time? Rest after the 3rd climbing effort, repeat the cycle.

It’s better to keep the intensity up than to go longer. Remember, we aren’t resting between climbs, we’re dieseling along in a big gear.

Visualize yourself driving an all-day breakaway, and you get the idea…

Have fun, and think to yourself, as you’re rolling along…

“What would Jacky do?”


PS… this is a hard workout. Depending on your schedule, and what you did yesterday, it might be a bit much. Might also toast you for tomorrow, so be warned, ok?
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…and check out Source Endurance Coaching.

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