The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 7.30.14 – “Let’s make a deal”

•July 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

In the restaurant world, there’s a common practice employed by ownership/management of a new business called the “Soft Open.” It’s  a pretty simple idea; before you open the doors to the world – and, importantly, to reviewers – you give things a dry run. The restaurant is open, you’re serving food and servicing customers, but the pressure is off. Everyone knows this is all about rounding off rough edges and figuring s**t out before the “real” opening of the business.

If you’re going to race cyclocross this season – especially if you haven’t done a whole bunch of it in the past – this is the time of year to have your own Soft Open.

It’s only the end of July, but there are already Cross races popping up on the calendar. A lot of the folks attending these races will be going full-gas, damn the torpedoes, take no prisoners, mid-season speed and intensity. Full bore, full speed.

You, yourself, might want to think about kinda maybe not doing that.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any of the late summer cyclocross racing; that ship has long since sailed. Cyclocross Racing in the US starts in the late summer, and there are some pretty darn cool events in August/early September.

You probably don’t want to miss out on them.

That said, though?

It’s going to be a loooooong season, and if you hope to be going well at the far end of the season, playing rough in August probably won’t help the cause.

So… Soft Open.

Right now, a couple of weeks before the insanity of late-summer cyclocross, repeat after me:

This month is a Soft Open

It doesn’t count

August is all about working s**t out, laying down a solid foundation, and nailing down the loose ends.

I won’t live or die by what happens in August, and I won’t let myself be drawn into the overtraining party that’s about to kick off.

I’m going to have a little bit of fun, a little bit of racing, and I’m going to use this month to reacquaint myself with Cross racing before the deep-dive of the real season begins.




So, all the above being said, how about a Workout Of The Day?

This one is pretty simple, and very much in keeping with the theme of the month.

Go ride your cross bike today.

Just get on the darn thing, and put a few miles in.

Go have some fun, maybe hit a local trail if it’s convenient, but above all else, just ride the thing.

It’s probably been a while since your ass felt that particular saddle, eh?

Heck, I bet a lot of folks have cross rigs that aren’t even in rideable condition right now.

If that’s you? Pull that ride out of the closet, and figure out what you need to do to get it up and running.

That’s it.

Have fun!







The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 7.29.14. “What better way to start things off…”

•July 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, hell.

It’s right about time to get this whole cyclocross season/workout of the day thing going… or so people are telling me.


Time sure flew. Seems like just yesterday I was pulling my hair out cranking these things out every day.

But I am – for sure – a glutton for punishment.

So here we go again.

And it being a Tuesday, what better way to start things off than everybody’s favorite, a little thing we like to call…


2×20 Tuesday!

The 2×20 is one of the primary building blocks of your fitness, and it is a great default workout. Short on time? Not sure what to do? Do a set of these.

The 2×20 isn’t just a staple workout, though. It also doubles as a test session, a regular, oft-repeated gauge of your fitness.

That’s really what we’re after today; setting a baseline for your fitness for all the workouts you’ll do as the season rolls on.

Keep track of your performance in this, and in all of the 2×20′s you do! 

Ideally, you want to keep track of your performance in all your workouts, but it’s extra-special super-duper important on these. You’re going to do them on a pretty regular basis, and if you keep track of ‘em, you’ll find that you’ve left a really good trail of bread crumbs behind you all season.

It doesn’t matter how you do this keeping-track-of.  Wattage, heart rate, what gear you’re pushing on the trainer; don’t really care.  Just figure out some way of measuring your performance during the workout, and write it down/download it/whatever.

Every time.

Yes, it’s great if you have a wattage measuring device, but it isn’t critical. If you do these intervals on a trainer, you can keep track of the cadence used, and the gear ratio, and you can track your progress that way. Works great.

It’s all about establishing some kind of metrics to keep track of, dig?

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 2.57.04 AM

We will be referring to these metrics throughout the season, and your level of output in the 2×20 will form the basis for determining your target output in most of the workouts we do from here on out.

So, hey… what the heck is this 2×20 thing?

Pretty simply, the 2×20 looks like this:

- Warm up.

- Go as hard as you can for 20 minutes.

- Recover for 2 – 5 minutes.

- Go again for another 20 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 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!



Thoughts on CX Nats…

•January 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,


If, in 2004, someone had told me that ten years later we would see Sven Nys and Bart Wellens on the podium at the Belgian Worlds, I would have asked them for some of whatever it was they were smoking. If they had also told me that, in that race, Bart would be hopping the planks while Sven ran, I wouldn’t have toked it.


Sven Nys is 37 Bart Wellens is 35.

2nd place at The Belgian World Championship race was 28 year-old Rob Peeters.

With the emergence of young non-Belgian superstars like Lars van der Haar and Philip Walsleben, is it time for the Belgians to start worrying about their legacy of domination as the next generation comes of age?


There isn’t a shadow of a doubt which country is the strongest when it comes to professional cyclocross racing. (It’s Belgium, just in case you’ve been living in a hole for 40 years or so.)
Belgium & the USA both had their Nationals on Saturday, and there was a striking difference in the fields.

Number of riders in the Belgian Professional race? 15.

In the US race? 123.

22 of those finished on the lead lap.

Included in that 22?

The first and second place riders from both the Master’s 30-34 and 35-39 races held earlier in the week.  As cyclocross continues to rise in popularity and prestige in the US, maybe it’s time we reconsider just what we mean when we say both “Master” and “Professional.”



Both the Belgian & US races were held on unusual courses, the US race in a purpose-built, cyclocross-specific park, and the Belgian in a Hippodrome. With no natural elevation at all, all the action in the Belgian race was the result of man-made obstacles, features including multiple fly-overs (one topped with giant horse-head statuary), sand trucked in from Koksijde, and a set of actual steeplechase barriers, complete with little tiny houses holding them up.

With rumors of Olympic Cyclocross making their quadrennial return, it’s worth noting that if that were to happen, courses like these would be the likely future of the sport.


Sven Nys made the Belgian race his second win in three attempts astride the bike of his new sponsor, Trek. He also won it on a bike with cantilever brakes. 3 races on the Trek, 2 on cantis. Also on canti brakes this weekend? American champ Jeremy Powers – after an entire season spent racing on discs – and 10 time American women’s champ, Katie Compton.


Speaking of Compton… 10 National Championship victories.

In a row.

Backstopped by two World Cup overall victories.

In a row.

Words fail. In any other era, we would almost certainly be lauding her the greatest Women’s Cross racer of all time.
Unfortunately, she’s racing in the Marianne Vos era, competing against the woman who may well be the greatest racing cyclist of all time, period, no gender distinction necessary. *
Vos, by the way, won her fourth consecutive Dutch National CX title this weekend, riding in the World Champion’s Rainbow jersey. Could this be the year that Katie finally takes the jersey from her?

Stay tuned…

(Ok, blecch. Hate to even raise the subject, but Vos has been so dominant that you have to add the asterisk. If she’s clean.  Ditto Nys. There it is. Nuff’ said on that topic.)

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for… well, for the duration. 1.3.14

•January 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,


In a week or so, we will know all our National Champions.

If you’re still following along with the blog at this late date, odds are pretty good that you’re heading out to Boulder in a few days.

Good luck!

Since everyone races in different categories, and each category races on different days, offering up training advice for this whole mess puts a fella in a bit of pickle.

So, here’s the deal:

What i’m going to do is post a “Week of the big race” schedule. You plug in your race day, count back, and BAM! a plan!





(Fair warning… I give myself license to contradict the following schedule with newer postings later on in the week.)

  One Week Before Race – 

Warmup Race, Race simulation outdoors, or The Doppelganger.

6 days before race:

Recovery spin

5 days before race:

Downhill Sprints,  Form Sprintsor 1-2 Hour Moderate Ride

4 days before race:

Slow Roast, or 2 x10, or 1/2 a Classic 2×20) or 1-2 Hour Moderate Ride

3 Days before race:

Spin-Ups   or   Form Sprints

2 Days before race:

1-2 Hour Moderate Ride and/or Course Preview or take the day off.

Day before Race:

Can Openers  or Ignition and  Course Preview

Day of Race:

Race. Yer. Ass. Off.


I’ve hotlinked The descriptions/explanations for all of these workouts, although if you’ve been following for a while, there isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before.

Have fun,


The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day Day for Thursday, 1.2.14 “Gonna post this anyways…”

•January 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, heck… welcome to 2014.

Pretty crazy, eh? 2013 went fast.

Fast enough that this post, which I should have put up a couple/few weeks ago somehow slipped into the New Year.


Gonna’ post it anyways…



Traditionally, the cyclocross season here in Seattle – and pretty much all of the US – used to wrap up at the beginning of December.

Nationals was in the middle of December, and if you wanted to race more after that? You had to go to Europe and get flogged by the big-boys.

The vast majority of folks didn’t go to Nats, so come the second week of December?


Oddly enough, most still are.

Done, that is.

You know what?

That’s actually a pretty damn good thing.

If you’re planning on doing what most semi-serious bike racers do – race road or MTB in the spring – you need to take some time off.

Back in the day, when I used to follow up a “full” Cross season with an intense road season – and  the occasional MTB race – I would finish up my Cross racing in the first week of December, and literally chain my bikes together until January first.


I chained the damn things to each other so that I couldn’t ride.

For three weeks.

If I raced Nationals later in the month?
The three weeks got pushed back to whenever I stepped off after the last race of the year, and the chains went on.

still think this is a really good idea.

Everyone needs some time off the bike. Heck, even the folks who get paid to race take a few weeks off.

If you’re going to be racing next December, you’re probably past due for a break… or, well, you will be when you get done with Nationals. Or Worlds. Or whatever.

So, hey… this is a little bit late in coming, right?

I mean, most of you finished up racing a few weeks ago, so right about now it should be time to get back on the bike.

And yeah, as previously mentioned, I kinda’ blew it by not getting this post up earlier.

But, geezus… I’m on Facebook, and I keep reading all these posts from people who segued immediately into some big training rides right after the cyclocross season ended.

Come On, folks!

Time off.

You need it.

You need to give your body time to recover so that you can start the whole year-long grind all over again.

How do I know this?

‘Cause I’ve watched – over decades – the repeated attempts of many, many folks to avoid taking this necessary rest, and I’ve seen the results.

The riders who don’t take this rest…

Stop getting faster.

Run out of gas mid-way through the next season

Suddenly re-discover a love for skiing in the middle of cross season

Walk away from the whole damn sport after a while.

What a puny plan…

Are there exceptions?

Of course there are, but if you follow people for long enough, there are darn few of them.

It may take a couple of years – heck, it may take 5-10 of them – but eventually if you don’t take a damn break, it catches up with you.

And you know what?

Those people going for all the mammoth mountain bike rides a week or so after the end of cross season?

Most of them have been riding at exactly the same middling level for years.

No improvement over time.




So take a damn break, OK?

But what about my base training for the next season? All my roadie friends are out doing base miles, won’t I be way, way behind when I get back on the bike?


You’re about to discover the best thing about racing cyclocross all season.

You just finished a “base” period that was far more intense, and far more productive than all those empty “base” miles your roadie friends have been putting in teaching their bodies to go slow over longer distances and durations than they ever actually race.

Three weeks off.

Just do it.

Then back on the bike, and back in the swing of things.

You’ll thank me for it later.

*** OK, let’s (briefly!) define what “Weeks off” means. We’re not talking about 3 weeks on the couch eating cupcakes and boozing it up. Give yourself maybe a week of that, if you have to (and I don’t rule that out. Some folks need to get a whole bunch of self-control out of their system so they can re-set and re-boot. That’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it.) “Off,” for our purposes, means “Off the bike.” Keep yourself busy. Do something that has your body moving/working a bit, but isn’t over the top strenuous, and isn’t cycling. This is a good time to start the 1st/Adaptation Phase of a weight training program, for example. Or go skiing. Skiing is good…


Happy, happy! It’s The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for the very first day of the New Year!

•December 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Happy New Year!

Immense thanks, gratitude, and good will go out to all ya’all for visiting this year.

All (almost!) 30,ooo of you. From over 85 countries.



Thanks for stopping by!

Up here in Seattle, we have a tradition of a New Year’s Day hangover ride that’s been going on for pretty much as long as I’ve been riding a bike.

It’s a chance to get in a nice, casual ride with friends – many of whom you haven’t seen in ages – and welcome the Ne Year in the best possible way.

On the bike.

So, hey… the very first Workout Of The Day for 2014?

Go ride with your friends.

Celebrate your good fortune and theirs, and enjoy the day.





(Come back late tomorrow… we’ll be talking about the last week of training up for Nationals…)

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 12.30.13. “Kiss your Ace goodbye”

•December 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, heck. It’s Monday.

Back to work.


Hopefully you had a great weekend, and enjoyed some cyclocross racing, if not on the bike, on the screen.

There was some great racing going on the last few days, including an amazing ride by The Kannibal yesterday in Diegem…

Sven kissed his long-time sponsor Colnago goodbye as only he could. Chapeau.

Phew. Just watching that performance can get ‘ya tired.

To say nothing of all the hard riding the last couple of days.

Only one answer to that, a nice, relaxing…

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.



More hard work tomorrow…





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