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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 9.19.14. “Do What you Gotta’ Do”

•September 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

So, hey… it’s Friday.

Crazy.

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 on Sunday, you should 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.

They can go both ways.

Do you know what category you fall into?

No?

How do you figure it out? (and you really should…)

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.

So, we’re gonna try it the easy way this week, and the hard way next week.

Remember to keep track of the results, ok?

Take notes of how you feel come Sunday.

We’ll be looking at them in a couple of weeks.

laters!

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 9.18.14. “Something like…”

•September 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Hey… you know what?

We’ve been doing an awful lot of big-gear churning, sustained high-output type work the last several weeks.

It’s time to change that up a bit, and have a go at something that gets the legs moving quickly.

Something like…

Spin Ups –

Get on your bike and warm the legs up, 10-20 minutes.

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

Begin each 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.

Not a power sprint, though. The idea here is to move your legs quickly, not to make the bike go fast.

Still out of the saddle, spin that gear up until…

…your leg speed gets to the point where it’s hard to maintain.

Sit down and keep it going until you are totally spun-out.

We’re talking  fast legs. Can’t turn ‘em over any faster fast.

Think Road-Runner fast…

2832318-RoadRunner

- Repeat x3-5

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.

Recover on the bike for another 10-20 minutes, then go home. Yer’ done.

Have fun!

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 9.17.14. “Dead dogs & computers”

•September 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sorry this is going up so late. My laptop died a thousand deaths last night, and looks to be unfixable. Yay!

Kinda’ hard to crank this stuff out on an Ipad!

Maybe I should make like all the semi-pro cross racers out there crowd funding their racing careers and set up a donation site to get a replacement, eh?

$500 donation gets you a free lesson, a box of donuts, and a re-purposed thank you card that was received after the funeral of my ex-girlfriend’s schnauzer!

Yeah…

Maybe not.

Anyways, enough whining.

It’s Wednesday, and that’s…

 

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?

Good.

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 -

It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, both have their advantages, just pick one.

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

So, the bike is on your shoulder.

Run.

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.

Remount.

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.

Enjoy!

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 9.16.14. “Shut the …. up, Get Up!”

•September 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Let’s jump right into the workout, shall we?

It’s Tuesday, and yup. That means today we’re doing…

The Two x Twenty… Get Up Style.

(vid language kinda NSFW)

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.

The idea here, folks, 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.

This is all about doing two intervals.

Two intervals at as close to the same level of output as you can possibly maintain.

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

For both intervals.

Both.

How steady?

Can you keep it in a 10 watt range?

Probably not.

15 watts?

More likely

20 watts?

Try.

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.

 

Tips:

- 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.

 

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 9.15.14. “Hoorahr!”

•September 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Yikes… what a week.

Vegas all week, then an insanely hot & dusty race on Saturday left me sick in bed all day on Sunday.

Blech.

Sorry I was out of action on here for so long, but we’re up and running now!

After a week like that, what better way to roll into the next week than 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.

When you do your recovery ride – if you have the time – just get out 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.

Relax.

Or at least try to.

Till tomorrow,

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 9.9.14. “Two For The Road”

•September 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Before we get started on today’s workout, a quick word.

I’m headed off to the Interbike trade show in lovely Las Vegas in a couple of hours, so there’s a pretty good chance that my output will be diminished significantly the rest of the week.

I will try to get posts up, but no promises – and frankly, it’s a fair bit unlikely.

If you find yourself in need of a W.O.T.D., there’s a search box on the bottom right side of the page. Type the day of the week into the box, hit return, and you’ll get back a pretty long list of workouts, and as we kind of keep to a general theme in terms of what we do each day of the week, you’re pretty sure to find something that makes sense with where you’re at in your training.

If you happen to be in Vegas this week, say “Hi” if you see me!

Las-Vegas

On with the workout!

Hey, did you know it’s Tuesday?

Two x Twenty Tuesday, that is!

 

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.

The idea here, folks, 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.

This is all about doing two intervals.

Two intervals at as close to the same level of output as you can possibly maintain.

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

For both intervals.

Both.

How steady?

Can you keep it in a 10 watt range?

Probably not.

15 watts?

More likely

20 watts?

Try.

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.

These take practice to do well, and the better you get at doing them the harder they get, as you figure out how to push yourself into a deeper and deeper hole.

This is a workout that’s a natural for the turbo trainer, and that’s how I do ‘em, because I always wind up flat on my back on the floor trying not to puke after the 2nd interval.

That’s not an exaggeration.

You should aspire to seeing-spots level of output on these.

But that might take a while

Get a handle on cranking through both intervals rather than just one, first.

 Eventually, when you learn to push through your limits – really push – you will get better and you will get better fast.

It’s gonna’ hurt, though.

The good kind of hurt.

Have fun!

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 9.8.14. “Deep Thoughts”

•September 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Yikes.

That was one heck of a first weekend of racing, for me at least.

It was hot, and it was fast, and it was hot.

Really damn hot.

Our local race had a lakeshore sand run, and word is that it was 95 freakin degrees on the exposed sand.

Yikes.

I know I’ll miss this when the rains start, but right now?

Yikes.

So, needless to say, after a day of racing in that, it’s time for 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.

When you do your recovery ride – if you have the time – just get out 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.

Relax.

Or at least try to.

So, hey… while we’re talking about recovery day, let’s really nail down what exactly we mean when we say something like “no hard efforts”.

No

Hard

Efforts

.

Spin easy, darnit.

Easy!

I recently received a message from a rider in which they stated that they set themselves a goal wattage of 200 watts for the duration of their recovery rides, and they felt like sometimes they needed to push themselves too hard to reach that on an easy day.

Yup.

I bet it felt like that.

‘Cause that’s waaaay too damn hard.

Spin. Easy.

Just enough power to make the pedals go around in circles.

You’re looking for it to feel like there’s almost no chain on the bike.

E.A.S.Y.

You just lollygag your way around, twiddling a ridiculously easy gear and flushing the previous day’s race out of your system.

Pick a scenic route to ride, invite someone to ride with you who only gets on their bike once a year, put the collected works of Jack Handy on your Ipod…

Make sense?

Enjoy!

M

 

- OK, here’s the caveat. There are a very, very few people out there who need to throw a couple of jumps into their recovery spin in order to get their legs to loosen up so they can get to that supple, no chain feeling we’re looking for.

If it just ain’t working to spin and spin easy-like, it’s ok to hit the gas a couple of times to prime the pump. Don’t overdo it, we’re talking a couple of short efforts, think 5-10 seconds at well short of your max output.

 
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