The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 10.8.15. “Stairing, belatedly”

•October 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sorry this is going up so late today! Got jammed up with actual work-type stuff, and simply couldn’t get this out until now.

Better late than never, though!

So, you know what we haven’t done in a while?


So, how about some…

Stairing – 

Start by finding yourself some stairs.

These are going to be short intervals, so you don’t need stadium stairs or anything like that. Something in the neighborhood of one single flight of standard office building stairs is perfect.

In a pinch, you can use a grassy knoll or hillside, but stairs are really the ticket for what we’re dong today.

– get on your bike and warm up for 15 minutes or so.

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

– Jog up the stairs. Walk down.

– Repeat x3

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

– Repeat x3

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

– Sprint up stairs, this time using quick, tiny strides, 1 stair step at a time. Jog down.

– Repeat x3

Rest again, same as before.

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

– Repeat x 3

Rest again.

– Sprint up stairs, combining the previous two exercises; long step, followed by 2 short steps. Do 1x.

Walk down.

– Run up stairs, high knees, exaggeratedly so

Repeat x3

Rest again, 2-5 minutes.

Sprint up stairs, free form, just go as fast as you can. Go until spent.

– Repeat entire damn thing if you’re a freaking animal.

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

Notes –

– If you can, go really damn hard. If you do this right, it’s a brutal workout.

– If you haven’t been doing much running this season, be careful. Don’t overdo this, and don’t risk screwing everything up for the rest of the season by blowing up a knee or something. Better yet, try this.

Have fun!


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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 10.7.15. “Embrace The Muck”

•October 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, right on.

It’s finally raining a bit up here in Seattle, and we’re going to have some mud out at the Wednesday Night Cyclocross Practice.

Can you see the big smile on my face from all the way over wherever you’re reading this?

Riding a CX bike in the mud is about as much fun as it gets, and I’m pretty stoked for the first full-conditions night of practice. You should be, too.

Stoked, that is.

Learning to like the wet, ugly days is something that will absolutely, positively, work to the benefit of your cyclocross ambitions.

Even if your natural inclination is to run screaming from the dark & rain, forcing yourself to smile and embrace the muck is the first step to being able to ride well in it.

As an old bike racing mentor once told me, a quarter-century or so ago, “As soon as it starts raining, 75% of the field have already been beaten. They aren’t even thinking about racing anymore, all they’re trying to do is survive to the finish.”

This (great) line was written about road racing, not cyclocross, but it’s still true, even if the percentage numbers might change a bit.

When you’re racing cross on the deep mud days, there are people who are trying to survive, and there are people who are racing.

It’s much more fun to be one of the people actually racing.

How do you become one of them?


Ride your bike in the mud and wet. Push yourself. Fall down, get up, try again. Make all the mistakes you can possibly make, learn from them, and apply the lessons on race day.


Make yourself smile when the conditions get sketchy. Tell yourself “I love this stuff” even – maybe especially – if you don’t. Tell yourself this often enough, for long enough, and eventually it becomes reality.

Gear Up

Buy some damn mud tires. Make sure your cross bike is set up like a cross bike, not like a road bike. Experiment with tire pressure until you’re finally able to understand just why it is that the top pros are riding pressures down in the teens when it’s really ugly out.

Get Out There

It’s raining up here in Seattle. I’ve got the mud tires on the bike, the legwarmers, embro, rainshell, long finger gloves, and a pile of towels are all packed. I’m headed out to cross practice after work.

How about you?


Here’s how tonight is going to go…

– Warm up on the bike.

As long as it takes to get loose, you should have a light sweat on when you…

– Stretch.

Active stretching, focus on all the muscles you use getting on & off the bike, but don’t when you’re riding. Go as long as it takes to work everything and get loose.

– Mount & Remount skills. 10-15 minutes.

Accelerate coming out of barrier sections. Coast in to them.

 Get to the point where you can come out of a barrier section faster than you went into it.

Come into a dismount section under control, and traveling at a speed that you can comfortably dismount at.

Brake early so that you can come into the barriers coasting, not braking.

Run over the barrier smoothly, in control.

The barriers aren’t 6 feet tall. Run over them with just enough clearance to keep from falling down. You don’t need to jump straight up in the air to go over a CX barrier, ok?

Don’t be afraid to take a few steps to get back up to speed before you get back on your bike.

Remember, it’s not how fast you get on your bike, it’s how fast you get going on your bike.

So many people are so overly concerned with getting back on the bike quickly that they totally forget about being fast.

Yes, you want to be able to dismount & remount quickly, and run over the planks like a gazelle.

But just about everyone seems to think that this means getting back on the bike as quickly as they can after a dismount section.

The second the bike clears the barriers, it’s back on the ground, and you see folks trying to remount.

Don’t do this, ok?

Work on accelerating through the barriers, and running into your remount.

Run up to speed before you get back on your bike.

Make sense?

Remember, smooth = fast.  Don’t over cook these. Hitting the ground is always slow.

– Technical skills on the bike. 10-15 minutes

Tight turns and off-cambers. As always, work on your entrances and exits from all the technical sections. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Try to pedal througheverything. Keep the gas on, power going through the rear wheel, and you maintain traction. This is especially important when it’s wet out!

Work on it. There’s lots more on the bike handling topic in earlier posts, enter “Wednesday” in the search box on the right hand side of this page for more.

– Starts. Go as long as it takes to get 5 perfect, full gas sprints.

Make it feel like a race start. Get off the mark fast, sit down, shift, go again. Remember, it’s the second effort that gets you the early gap most of the time…

– Race simulation. 3 ten minute efforts, 2 minutes recovery between them.

No big complications here. Go really f-ing fast. Try and make these efforts faster and harder than you go in the races. You want to get to the point where your efforts in practice and training are as  hard or harder than anything you see in a race.

Yeah, I know… good luck with that, right?

– Warm down.

Spin out your legs. Take enough time doing this that you feel them unspool and loosen up.

Go home, eat, get some sleep.





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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 10.6.15. “What’s the over/under on finding footage of the darn women’s race?”

•October 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, I tried.

I tried to come up with video coverage of the Women’s race at Neerpelt this past weekend, but all I could find was a brief highlights package…

If you happen to find something more, please let me know and I’ll post it up so everyone can watch it while doing today’s…

Over/Under Intervals! 

So, what the heck is an over/under interval?

– “Over-under” means that you are going to be working right around the level of your threshold, both above and below.

– What is your threshold? Well, for our purposes, we are going to reference the Classic 2×20 workout. Whatever wattage, heart rate, or gear ratio you use for that interval will serve as your threshold baseline.

Get a solid idea of the wattage, heart rate, or tempo you ride your 20 minute intervals in, and keep it firmly stuck in your mind. This is important; you are going to bounce above and below this level for the rest of the workout.

Get a stopwatch. Put it on your bars.

Start the stopwatch.

Begin today’s workout by doing a 5 minute effort at your 2×20 level.

After the 20 minute-style baseline effort, spin easy for 2 -5 minutes.

When you are ready, begin the 10 minute Over/under thusly:

– Ride for one minute at your baseline/20 minute intensity level.

– At the end of that minute, ride 10 seconds at 25 watts, 10 beats, or 1 gear higher than the baseline level.

– After the 10 seconds, ride 20 seconds at 25 watts, 10 beats, or 1 gear lower than the baseline.

– After the 20 seconds, you go back to the ten (over,) followed again by the 20 (under,) etc., etc.

Got it? 1 minute baseline, 10 up, 20 down, 10 up, 20 down. Repeat the up/down efforts to the end of the interval.

– Rest 2-5 minutes.

– Do it again for 10 minutes.

– Rest again for 2 minutes.

– Pile sets on until you’ve reached the duration of your typical race, or you’re starting to see a precipitous drop in your output level. You’ll know when that happens, even if you aren’t using a power meter!

Have fun!


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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 10.5.15. “Fer chrissakes, just chill, ok? Like, fer reals. Take it easy. I’m not too proud to beg. No, that hot yoga class that kicks your ass sideways every time you do it ain’t recovery. Sorry. Just do the short spin and call it good, ok?”

•October 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Here we are, Monday again.

I’m sitting here writing this with open wounds on my knee, ice on my wrist (makes typing… interesting…) and a cold one at the ready.

In other words, it’s cross season, for reals.

Now if only it would start raining…

Rain or not, we’re deep in the swing of things, and it’s starting to become pretty darn important that we focus on our recovery as much as we focus on our racing, and the rest of our training.

So, today?

Today we take it pretty darn easy, and jump start our recovery from the weekend’s hard efforts with a relaxing…

Recovery Spin – 

– Get on your bike. Roll out into the street – or into your living room if you’re on the turbo watching the vid – and just spin around for an hour. Or more. Or less. Whatever it takes.

– 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.


One of the questions I get asked most often is “what else can I do on my recovery days? Can I do crossfit, or run, or something else?”

You know what’s a good thing to do on your recovery days?


That ain’t doing crossfit, or lifting weights, or running. A massage would be great. Maybe some other kind of bodywork, but other than the easy spin that we’ve already mapped out for you, no other exercise-type things.

stretching is fine.

No yoga if it involves sweating your a** off in an overheated room.

Just chill, ok?

Put the vid of the first Soudal Classic race on the screen…

…and just spin easy.



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 10.4.15. “Ouch”

•October 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,


Race day for most everyone!

If you’re in that group, you know what you’re doing today.

Not racing?

Do something race-like.

If you typically race for 60 minutes, today you should endeavor to do a race-like effort (on the cross bike, on cross-race like terrain… you know, race-like) of approximately half that duration, at greater than your race level output.

So, half as long as a race, but harder than what you would do in an actual race.


Go really damn hard for half as long.

Pretty simple, eh?

Not easy though.

Another option?

Go for a…

Hard Group Ride –

Get out there and kick some A** on the local roadie ride, or on the trails with your buddies.

Push the pace if and when you can, try and go hard – harder than usual – and see how you recover from some stiff efforts on a course or in a group you know pretty well.

Duration? 3 hours or so. OK to go long(er. Ish.) today, but better to go kinda long and really damn hard.

Try to ride a bit over your head.

Either ride with a group of riders that are just slightly better than you – and ride defensively – or push the tempo at the front with a group that you’re comfortable in.

Just like the “harder than the race” option above, the idea is to push yourself a bit outside your comfort zone.




The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Saturday, 10.3.15. “Go baby, go”

•October 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Yup; it’s Saturday. Odds are that means you’re either racing (in which case you’re probably already long gone, at or on your way to the race) or you’re racing tomorrow.

If you’re racing tomorrow, you need to get some openers in today.

How about…

Ignition – 


You’re going to do a series of short, hard sprints midway through a 1 – 1 1/2 hour ride. Before you head out the door, give some thought to where you can do that effectively.

A flat, straight, low-traffic section of road is what you’re looking for.

It would be great if it’s about a :45 minute ride away; that would make things nice and simple.

Hop on your bike and roll out the door.

Ride steady, at a moderate pace for 1/2 hour – 45 minutes, eventually winding up at the aforementioned stretch of road.

You’re now going to do a series of Hard out of the saddle sprints.

How hard?

Well, hard to say. You’ll start to get the hang of it pretty quickly, but figure that you’re shooting for an output level that will allow you to crank out all the sprints in the set at about the same level, but not easily.

You aren’t sprinting to failure here, and you aren’t doing a max power test.

Don’t overdo it, you’re trying to open your legs, not destroy them.

Make sense?

10 sprints, 10 seconds each.

1 minute between each sprint.

After the last sprint, roll back home spinning easily to recover.

Budget at least 15 – 20 minutes for the spin/ride back home.

when you get home, put your feet up and relax.

For some folks, this isn’t quite enough to get their legs open and ready the day before the race – or at least it doesn’t feel like it’s enough – and the importance of “feeling” ready can’t really be overestimated.

If you’re part of this club (I am) add a 10-minute effort at right about your 2×20 output level before you start the sprint sets.

Warm up, 10 minute effort, 5 minutes spinning, sprint efforts, spin down, go home.



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 10.2.15. “In which we potentially throw a race away”

•October 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

So, hey… it’s Friday.


How the heck did the week go by that fast?

The weekend is just about upon us, and with the weekend comes the racing!

If you’re racing tomorrow, today do some…

Can Openers – 

Here’s the drill:

– Warm up for 1/2 hour or so.

– Follow with several short attacking efforts, IE 30 seconds at 80% of your max, or pretty damn hard.

– Back off and spin for 5 minutes.

– Follow with 10-15 minute effort at AT level, or CP30, or “I could talk to you if I had to, but I don’t want to” level.

– Spin for several minutes.

– Follow with 5-6 full gas sprint efforts on a straight section of paved road, level or slightly uphill.

Do half of these from a near standstill, and for 1/2 of them, get going at a pretty good clip before you start the sprint.

… spin out the legs, go home, and get ready for the race.

What’s that you say?

You’re not racing tomorrow, you’re racing on Sunday?

You should maybe think about taking it easy today.

Go for a short spin if you have to, but to tell the truth, a pretty large percentage of folks would do well to take today off the bike completely.

That doesn’t mean sit on the couch eating bon-bons and drinking beer, it means taking it easy and taking care of yourself.

Eat well, maybe get a massage, get to bed early… that kind of stuff.

You’ll note I said “pretty large percentage of folks.”

The flip side of that statement is that for all the people who ride well if they take it easy two days before a race, there’s a population of folks who ride like absolute crap if they do so.

…and, well… some who fall kind of in the middle.

Do you know what category you fall into?


How do you figure it out?

You experiment.

You try it both ways.

You keep track of the results.

Eventually you figure it out.

I have a couple of coaching clients who actually need to ride pretty damn hard two days before a race in order to make sure their legs work right come race day.

There just ain’t no hard and fast rule about this, you do what you gotta’ do.


Over time, you try it both ways and keep track of the results.

It’s a bit of an experiment.

For most folks, the default for a race weekend should be a pretty easy day two days before the event, but ‘ya gotta try it the hard way as well just to make sure.

It’s a bit of a risk, but if you ride hard(er) today, and then kill it on Sunday?

Pretty cool. Might have figured something out about yourself.

If you do the following workout and bomb your race on Saturday?

Well, you learned something else.

You learned not to do this!

That’s a victory in and of itself.

So, with that in mind, today we’re doing…

The 3×10 with Happy Ending…

– Warm up.

– Go as hard as you can for 10 minutes.

– Recover for 2 minutes.

– Go again for another 10 minutes.

– Recover for 2 minutes.

– Go again for another 10 minutes.

That’s the basic version. Success on this is,  however,  all in the details.

The idea here is to go as hard as you can for the duration of all 3 intervals without being forced to go easier at the end of the subsequent interval(s).

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

If your vision isn’t blurry at the end of the last interval, you went too easy.

If you’re doing this with a powermeter, you want your wattage output to be as close to constant as possible. We’re talking 10 watt variance at the most. Keep it steady.

These take practice to do well, and the better you get, the harder they get.

This is a workout that works great on the trainer, and that’s how I do ‘em.

But hey… that’s not all.

This is the Happy Ending version.

What does that mean?


 After the third ten-minute interval,

-spin for 1 minute.

sprint for ten seconds, starting at the one minute mark on your watch.

-spin until you hit the 2 minute mark on your watch

sprint for ten seconds

-spin until you hit the 3 minute mark on your watch

sprint for ten seconds

Etc., etc., continuing until you hit the five minute mark (ten minute, if you’re really motivated, or a bit of an animal), and give the last little bit of your energy in one final 10 second sprint.


Have fun!




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