The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 8.9.17. “Sorry for the Bieber. Really.”

•August 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday. I was teaching a CX clinic and, well… just ran out of time. My apologies, it won’t happen again.

Hell, who am I kidding? It will definitely happen again. Hopefully not often, but every once in a while?


Still sorry though.

That brings us to tomorrow’s workout, and probably shocking to absolutely no one, we’re going to…

Go long today. 

Up here in Seattle, we’re exactly a month away from the start of the local CX series. For people that want to come into that first race flying, this is about the time they should be finishing up their long mileage weekends, with a transition into shorter intervals and speed work imminent.

Expect to see something a bit like that on here over the next couple/few weeks. Yay, intervals!

Today, though?

Today, get on out there and put some miles under your wheels.

Might be a while before you’re doing that again…



The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 8.18.17. “Move Your Legs”

•August 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Happy Friday!

As you may have noticed, we’ve been doing a whole bunch of “Gee, my legs sure do feel heavy!” type stuff the last couple of weeks.

Let’s do something about that today.

Something that makes you move your legs.


Really damn fast.


Something like…



Spin Ups –

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

– After you’re warm, find a nice, long, flat or slightly downhill section of road with little to 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…

 The goal here isn’t to make the bike go fast, it’s to make your legs go fast.

There’s a difference, eh?

You should do these in a small enough gear that you want to shift up.


– Repeat 3-5 times, a minute or so recovery between reps.

That’s a set.

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

– Go again, same thing.

Recover, then repeat as time and fitness allow.

Shoot for 3-5 sets of  3-5, or keep going until your leg speed drops off.

When you’ve completed all your reps, roll on home at a leisurely, relaxed pace. Ideally, take 1/2 hour or so to do this.





The Cyclocross Workout Of The day for Thursday, 8.17.17. “Repeat run”

•August 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

It’s Thursday, and surprise, surprise… we’re doing exactly the same damn thing today as we did last Thursday.

In this particular case, repetition is good, so we’re being repetitive. Also repeating ourselves. And doing it again also.

Next week, something different, but today? Today we’re…

Stairing – 


– First, figure out where you can do the workout.

We’re going to be running stairs today, so you 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 for this workout. 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.

On with the workout.

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

(we’re going to warm up for any running efforts we do, all season, with some time on the bike. )

– 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 get comfortable with the terrain.

– 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 stair steps 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.

– Run up stairs sideways. Yup, you read that right. Sideways. Try it, it’ll make sense. More of an agility drill than anything else, but it’ll be good for you.

– Repeat 2-5 times.

Rest again, 2-5 minutes

– Repeat entire damn thing until you just can’t do it anymore, or you are going so slowly it’s ridiculous.

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.

Don’t go that hard if you haven’t got the legs for it yet. 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. That’s going to take a few sessions to build up to, though. Don’t kill yourself the first time out.

In general, I don’t think that most CX racers really need to do much running work. It’s just not that important for most of the races we see in the US these days. The running that happens organically in the races and in practice is enough to keep the legs moving, and the time needed to add extra running to the schedule is generally better spent doing something more important, like riding yer damn bike.

Having said that, if you are consistently losing ground every time you get off the bike, or if you happen to live in a part of the country where the local races have you running a lot, that’s a different story. YMMV, eh? This is exactly the sort of thing that individual coaching is useful for. I’ve got some clients who do running workouts all the way through the CX season, and others who do none at all. One size absolutely don’t fit all.

So, give today’s workout a shot, and see how it works for you. You might decide you like it.

Or not.




The cyclocross workout of the day for wednesday 8.16.17. “Having it both ways”

•August 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Wednesday is usually skills day around these here parts, but sometimes? Well, sometimes you want to work on your skills and your fitness.

Sometimes being today.

So we’re doing…



Sventervals – 


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

Just like in the video.

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

5 reps per set, and notice how hard Sven is breathing after these?

That’s the idea.

Hit it hard. Really hard. These are super short, and super intense.

Ideally, you’re doing these on a short climb that you can barely get up, one that is at the bleeding edge of your technical ability and strength.

You can surmount the obstacle, but it forces you to give it everything you’ve got to make it happen.

But you can make it happen, despite the pain. For a couple of reps, at least.

Can’t get up the hill anymore?

Take a short rest, go again.

When you can’t get up the hill at all even when you take a short break to recover?

You’re done.

Don’t have a good place to do these? Try this instead.




The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 8.5.17. “A welcome return to normalcy. Maybe.”

•August 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, it’s Tuesday. You know what that means, right?

No tease this time, it means what you think it means, if you’ve been following on here the last few (several?! How did that happen?!) years.


You know it.


2×20 Tuesday!


The 2×20 is kind-of the Swiss Army knife of workouts, and some folks take it so far as to make it the primary building block of their fitness. As such, it’s a great default workout. Short on time? Not sure what to do? You could do a lot worse than to suffer your way through one of these.

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

That’s a big part of what we’re after today, as we embark upon our season-long CX journey. We’re setting a baseline for all the workouts you’ll do as the year rolls on.

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

(honestly, you should keep track of all the workouts you do, but… baby steps. We’ll start here.)

You might just find yourself doing these 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 really matter how you do this keeping-track-of.  Wattage, heart rate, what gear you’re pushing on the trainer, whatever. Just figure out some way of consistently measuring your performance during the workout, and write it down/download it/etch it in runes on a stone tablet…

Just try to track this stuff, ok?

Every time.

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 record your cadence and gear ratio, and you can track your progress that way.

Say today you ride these on your trainer, with a fixed resistance, in a 53×14 at 80 rpm.

Next time out? 53×14 at 85 rpm.

Time after that? Back to 80 rpm, but this time you were able to roll ’em on a 53×13.

Progress! And you can see it on paper (or your stone tablets)!


It’s all about establishing some kind of metrics to keep track of.

       Got it?


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 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, 8.14.17. “About what you’d expect on a Monday. And absolutely no political content, just in case that one guy who complained about it last year is still hanging around.”

•August 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Happy Monday!

Hopefully you got some fun riding in this weekend, and you’re feeling nice and tired today. Spent, ready for a nice, 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 easily and aimlessly. At a certain point, your legs will start to loosen up.

– When that happens, turn around and go home.

–  If you’re doing these on the trainer, same deal. Just spin. No hard efforts, just make the legs go around in circles in a small gear.

– Follow up with as much relaxation as you can. Eat, stretch, and put your legs up. Get a massage if possible.


Monday trainer vid? Check!






The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 8.13.17. “Get up. Inside, probably.”

•August 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sunday! Aaaaand… it’s raining up here in Seattle. First time in a while – a record long while, in fact – which is going to make it pretty damn hard to get out there and do today’s scheduled workout. Which is/was the same as yesterday’s workout.

Let’s face it, putting in long hard miles in the middle of the summer in the rain ain’t everybody’s bag, and it’s basically nobody’s idea of a perfect summer day.

Certainly not mine. So I’m not going to commend it to anyone else.

Beautiful summer day tomorrow? Excellent. See the link above.

Ugly ass day, but you’re still motivated to flog yourself in the rain? See above.

“F**k that, I’m going to ride inside!”

Yeah. That’s what I figured.

How about.

The Two By Twenty. Get up Style. On the G-damn trainer.


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.