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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 8.21.14. “Everything is Illuminated. Illuminati? Whatever.”

•August 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

I hope you didn’t find yesterday’s dissertation on clipping and unclipping (and unclipping and clipping again. And again.) too off-putting. Got any questions? Please feel free to let ‘em rip. It’s always good to get questions, gives me something to write about, and makes it feel a lot less like I’m sitting here scribbling manifesto notes while I grow out my beard and build pipe bombs. 

Has any one ever talked to you about the illuminati?


Seriously. That was a joke. Unless you believe in that stuff, and are of a vindictive, violent disposition. 

In that case, I was dead serious. Or something. 

Awww crap, what the heck is that scratching noise at the window…



Well, after that nonsense, what better thing to do for a workout than…


First, warm up on your bike if you can.

Ideally, you will also warm down on the bike.

Don’t run with the bike on your shoulder or anything silly like that, just get the legs working on the bike before you run.

Maybe ride out to wherever you’re going to do these (you’ll need a short flight of stairs) with your running shoes in a back pack or something. 

When you do get to wherever that is…

You’re going to do sets of 5 repeats on a short flight or section of stairs.

*Short* section of stairs.

10 seconds at the most going hard. Even shorter is fine, heck 5 seconds is groovy.

Focus on moving your feet fast. Quick steps, high turnover, short strides.

Really short strides, really quick steps.

Concentrate on moving your feet quickly, not on getting up the stairs quickly. 

You’ll see pretty (ahem) quickly that these aren’t the same thing.

Run up, walk down.

2 minutes between sets.

Repeat sets until you see a drop off in performance, IE you just aren’t knocking down the reps as fast as you were.

That might take a while, or it might happen in just a couple of sets. Depends on what kind of running form you have. 

It is what it is.

Don’t keep going past the point that you’re really noticeably slowing down.

Unless you’ve got some pretty decent running form in the system already, and you’re looking to put in some serious work.

If that’s the case?
Have at it.

Go until you can’t anymore.


However many you do…





Have fun!


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 8.20.14. “Redux, redux.”

•August 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

(Hey, please click on the title of this post to read it on a discrete page, that’ll take care of the formatting errors that make this post crappy looking and difficult to read in the front page view. Thx.)

Howdy folks,

I hope you enjoyed your 2×20’s yesterday :)

If you’re new to this whole CXWOTD thing this season, what you’ll discover is that we will typically focus on the skills & handling components of our CX training on Wednesdays… and, hey – it’s Wednesday!

So, how about some skills work?

Based on a question/conversation I had out on the trails this past weekend, this seemed like a good time to roll back the clock and whip out a post from last season, that was an edit of a post from the previous season, that may have been a re-write of something from a year earlier than that… aw heck; suffice to say this ain’t anything new, but it’s probably the post that gets the most page views out of all the stuff that’s piled up on here over all the years I’ve been doing this.

So, why mess with success? 

Let’s all do…

The Hokey-Pokey Redux, Redux. 

(or, left foot in, left foot out, that is what it’s all about.)

Fair warning: this is about as dweebish as it gets. It’s also (largely) a re-write of a post from previous seasons. If you find yourself actually wanting to read more on the subject, and similar subjects, enter “Wednesday” into the search box on the lower right side of this page. If you wade through the posts that come up, you’ll find a pretty high volume of skills posts. Lots of words, some pretty pictures.

Mostly words.

Anyways, onwards!


First, lets look at the Pedal/Shoe interface -

All of the clipless pedals commonly used for cyclocross operate on the same basic principles.

A cleat -

Is held in place in a pedal…

…by a hook at the front of the pedal, and a gate at the rear. *

The gate is spring-loaded, in an orientation that provides for extremely high resistance to force in the vertical plane, and extremely low resistance in the horizontal.

The cleat/pedal interface is designed so that lateral or medial rotation of the foot overcomes the spring tension holding the gate portion of the pedal in place, releasing the cleat and allowing for vertical disengagement.

The factors that limit the proper functioning of the pedal in release mode are these -

- Force necessary to overcome spring tension of gate

Can the lateral/medial motion of the foot produce enough force to overcome the spring tension of the gate?

- Range Of Motion (ROM)

Can the foot produce a wide enough range of lateral/medial motion to overcome the spring tension of the gate?

- Resistance multipliers

The resistance of the pedal gate to lateral/medial motion is designed to be low, but several factors can cause substantial increases in the actual force necessary to release from the pedal. For EG -

- Contamination by foreign media

Mud, grit, crap of all sorts in pedals/shoes can jam spring mechanism

- Out of plane cleat motion in act of release

If the foot/cleat is pronated/supinated in the attempt to release from the pedal, it introduces a vertical force component to the cleat/pedal interface, causing potentially significant increases in overall force necessary to trigger disengagement.


Now, the body -

The rider triggers release from the pedal by rotating the foot medially or laterally -

(Generally speaking, we always try to release using  medial rotation. There are lots of sharp spinning parts providing a disincentive for release motions that lean in towards the bike.)

Medial rotation of the foot is a result of medial/internal rotation of the hip


…some combination of the two, or rotation of the entire body.

The range of these rotational joint moments is limited. Here are some observed norms, if you’re interested -




What the hell does this have to do with cyclocross?

Bear with me.

When we dismount the bike,  We’re trying to get off  (the bike)

- Quickly

- smoothly

- efficiently

- without hitting the deck

Knowing how the mechanics of the pedal/shoe interface and the related body parts function, we can think logically about how best to do this.

Here’s how I described a super-basic “Cowboy” dismount in a previous post -

1. Unclip right foot.
2. swing right foot over saddle, behind left leg.
3. Left foot stays clipped in. Right side of leg/ass braces against saddle.
4. r hand leaves bar, braces on top tube.
5. Coast in this position.
6. left foot unclips.
7. DROP to ground. Do not step down, right foot is totally passive. Simply drop to ground as you unclip left foot.
Here’s why the dismount breaks down this way, with reference to everything above…
1. Unclip right foot.
Gotta start somewhere, right?
2. swing right foot over saddle, behind left leg.
We’re doing this “cowboy” style. More on the “step through” style later…
3(a). Left foot stays clipped in.
…more on this later.
3(b). Right side of leg/ass braces against saddle.
Bracing the right side of the leg against the top tube stabilizes the body in a position that will allow for sufficient ROM to disengage from the pedal, and provides for an additional point of contact with the bike, increasing control of the bike during the dismount.
4. r hand leaves bar, braces on top tube.
bracing the hand on the top tube reinforces vertical stability of the body, helping to control the tendency of the foot to supinate
during medial rotation. Hand on top tube also helps to control bike, facilitates shouldering/portaging after dismount.
5. Coast in this position.
We use this coasting phase to sight the dismount and to prepare for…
6. left foot unclips.
The body is held stable, in alignment, and within the ROM necessary to release the cleat from the pedal. There should be no difficulty with release unless resistance multipliers are present…
7. DROP to ground. Do not step down, right foot is totally passive. Simply drop to ground as you unclip left foot.
The key is dropping to the ground after cleat disengagement.
By suspending the body in the correct position using the hands and hip (per 1-4 above,) we facilitate the conditions necessary for safe disengagement.
Attempting to step towards the ground, or dismount motions of the body disturbing the established equilibrium can and will result in an increased likelihood of a failure to disengage, and subsequent danger of crash/collision.
Whatever controversy there is regarding the method of dismount I describe here appears largely to append to my “don’t unclip the left foot first” recommendation.
Please allow me to emphasize that I do advocate releasing the foot prior to making any sort of “exiting the bike” motion. I do not, however, teach the method taught by many, espoused by nearly all of the East-Coast luminaries, and described (excellently) by Adam Myerson in his blog.
Here’s what Adam wrote in the comments section of an earlier post on the topic -

…I advocate clipping out of the left first when you have time to do so, and don’t need to be on the gas all the way to the dismount point. It’s much easier to step off a bike you’re not still attached to.

I advocate staying clipped in on the left when you have to pedal all the way up to the dismount point, and when you’re not stepping through.

I advocate stepping through ONLY when clipped out of the left already, and when you have ample speed and coasting time to take the extra time needed to step through.

Option 1 works every time, in every condition, and I consider it the default.


I think -at the most basic level- we agree where it really counts.

Unclip before you begin any motion that leads to or constitutes “stepping off” of the bike.

I can understand why the “Unclip before stepping over” approach works, and is popular with many riders. It’s a good way to get off the bike.

I don’t use it myself, and therefore I don’t teach it.

Why don’t I use it?

As explained well in the Cycle-Sport Blog post, this dismount method -while very effective – is not universally applicable, and is not optimal under conditions such as “…uphill dismounts, deep mud, last minute dismounts….” (I would also add sand to the list.)

Believe it or not (and I know I’m straining credulity writing this after forcing you to wade through this ridiculous post,) I’m all about simplicity.

If I can teach one technique that works all the time, or two techniques, one of which only works most of the time,  I’m going with the one that works all the time.

Honestly, though?

I think this may largely be an East-Coast/West Coast thing. The main reason I don’t use the “unclip first” method is because I learned early on that on the rutty, crappy, chuckhole infested minefield disaster courses of Seattle in the 90′s, if you tried to ride into a barrier hanging off the side of the bike balanced on an unclipped pedal, you were pretty likely to get bounced off the pedal, and flat onto your ass.

It just wasn’t a good default position for the courses out here, and really… it still probably isn’t.

Above all else, figure out what works best for the the courses *you* ride on, practice it, wire it, and go fast.

Nothing wrong with either approach, just…



*                    Yeah, yeah, I know… “what about crank bros, Speedplay, Time, etc.”?
The details are slightly different, but in all the commonly used “mountain bike” pedals, the function of the pedal still follows the same basic formula.
**                    ”What about the “step through?”
Another time. I’m going to sleep…

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 8.19.14. “Bam!”

•August 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Before we get started, a quick bit of news:


It’s official, Wednesday Night Cyclocross at the Marymoor Velodrome kicks off it’s 2014 season on September 24! Spread the word!

On with today’s workout…

It’s Tuesday, and hey – why mess with a good thing?

Welcome to 2×20 Tuesday!

Pretty simply, 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.

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

First of all, warm up.

No, seriously. Don’t just hop on the bike and blast one out.

Warming up makes a difference, especially if you’re doing this as a test session.

You don’t need to do anything super hard or super involved, just make sure the legs are up and running before you kick off the workout proper.

Spin for a bit, blast a couple of 30 second to 2 minute efforts off pretty hard, spin a bit more, then go for it.

When you do go for it, really go for it.

But in a controlled sort of way.

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 run out of gas before you finish the second interval, you went to hard. If your vision isn’t blurry at the end of the second 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. How constant?

Can you keep it in a 10 watt range?

Probably not.

15 watts?

More likely

20 watts?


Keep it steady.

These take practice to do well, and the better you get, the harder they get (you’re welcome.) This is a workout that’s a natural for the turbo trainer, and that’s how I do ‘em.

This is a good thing, because I always wind up flat on my back on the floor trying not to puke after the 2nd interval.

I’m really not kidding about the blurry vision thing. You should aspire to seeing-spots level of output on these.

 If you can learn to push through your limits, really push, you will get better and you will get better fast.

It’ll be painful, though.

I promise.

Have fun!


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 8.18.14. “Recover”

•August 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,


If you’re like me, you’re pretty darn gassed today.

Hard training takes it out of ya’, eh?

When ‘ya train hard, ‘ya know what also has to happen?

Rest and recovery.

Real rest and real recovery.

You need to take this part of your training as seriously as the fun working hard on the bike part. 

So, start today with a…

Recovery Spin -

Get on your bike. Roll out into the street, 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.


Have fun!


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 8.17.14. “Sleeping in?”

•August 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, you made it to Sunday. Pretty soon, you’re going to be getting up early to wrangle bikes for the races, so don’t be afraid to sleep in a wee bit today. It’s weekend luxury that really starts to feel like one a couple/few weeks into the race season!

When you do get up, and you’re ready to rock and roll, we’ve got a couple of options for you today…

Option #1  –

Race Your Ass Off!

You’re probably not sleeping in if this is on the agenda, eh? Heck, you’re probably reading this post-race, ’cause I got it up in the middle of the damn nigh. 


Still, though… if there’s still racing around in your neck of the woods, don’t hesitate to partake of it a bit.

Especially if it’s of the fast criterium nature, or a wee bit of track racing.

Speed work like that is something we’re just about to start thinking more about, and if you can get some of it organically, so much the better. 

So, whatever local racing is on tap for today, do it.

Take full advantage of the few remaining road track, or MTB races, and get some hard efforts in.

It’s good for ‘ya.

Workout option #2?

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.

You want to finish up the ride  tired, sore, and needing to rest a bit tomorrow…

exhausted-man-130214 (1)

In short, if you aren’t racing today, go hard enough that when you’re done you feel like you did.

If you did yesterday’s workout, and follow up with today’s?

You earned the rest day that’s coming up tomorrow!

Have fun, ride hard, and yup; easy day tomorrow.

The Leave it all on the road/trail today.



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Saturday, 8.16.14. “Sventervals”

•August 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sometimes a picture (or a video) is worth a thousand words.

Today’s workout?

Sventervals – 

Just like in the video.

Really darn short – 10 seconds max – full gas hill sprints, ideally on pretty technical terrain.

5 sets of 5 for today (you’ll build up to more) and notice how hard Sven is breathing after these?

That’s the idea. 

Hit it hard. Really hard.

Have fun,



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 8.15.14. “Ignition Trial”

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, yikes… this is another post that’s going up morning-of, rather than night before.

Sorry about that.

Have had a string of late nights recently, hopefully will be able to get back to the routine of posting these up the night before soon. Well, immediately, I hope.



Anyways, today – much like last Friday – we’re going to have a go at a workout that I often recommend as a day-before-race opener.

Why are we doing openers when you aren’t racing tomorrow?

It’s a really good idea to get a handle on your day before race routine well before the racing action gets underway.

How hard do you need to hit it the day before to ensure that the legs & lungs are open and ready to perform come race day?

How hard is too hard for you the day before a race? 

How do you know?

Here’s how.

You practice your openers routine, and see how you feel the next day.

Well before the racing starts, you’re going to run through some varied openers strategies the day before you do some big training efforts and see what happens.

Keep track. Write it down.


What’s really important isn’t how you feel right after you do today’s workout, it’s how you feel during your workout tomorrow.

Write down exactly what you did today, and make note of the result tomorrow.

Make sense?


Time for…

Ignition -

You’re going to be doing a series of short, hard sprints midway through a 1 1/2 – 2 hour ride, so give some thought to where you can do these effectively.

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

Even better if it’s about a :45 minute ride away; that will make things nice and simple.

Hop on your bike and roll out the door.

Ride steady, at an easy, relaxed pace for 45 minutes – 1 hour, eventually winding up at the aforementioned stretch of road.

You’re now going to do a series of Hard out of the saddle sprints from a very low starting speed, almost a standing start.

10 sprints, 10 seconds each.

1 minute between each sprint.

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

Budget a minimum of 20 minutes for the spin/ride back home.

That’s the basic version of this.

Start with it, and see how you feel tomorrow.

Personally, I find that I need a little bit more to open up the legs, and I throw in a 10 minute steady effort at right around my 2×20 level immediately before the sprints.

Some people need more than that – although not many, and not much – and for some other folks, just the sprints is plenty.

The goal here is to figure out what you need.

So, give one of the options a shot, and take note of the results.

Next time, try a bit more or a bit less, and – yup – take note of the results.

Have fun!



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