The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 11.17.18. “Giving s**t away for free”

•November 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

It’s Sunday, which means you’re probably racing today. Which means you need to warm up for that race before it happens.

Or do you?

Yeah, you do.

Read on, as I make the cardinal mistake of giving away for free the kind of stuff I theoretically get paid to tell people.

Oh crap… that’s pretty much the story of this whole g-damn blog, isn’t it?

Sigh… no wonder I’m broke…



Warming up

First of all, don’t overdo it.

I see way, way too many people spending a ridiculous amount of time on their trainers before the race, and frankly, I think a huge number of racers leave their best effort of the day back in the tent before the race even starts.

Don’t let this be you.

If you feel like you need to spend more than an hour warming up for your race, frankly you’re doing something wrong.

There’s been a fair bit written about warming up for cycling events, and if you spend any time at all reading through some of the stuff that’s out there, you will no doubt find that the only commonality is that most everyone disagrees.

Until you start reading some of the science, and some of the warm-up protocols suggested by those who have also read the science.

Here’s an interesting study…

…with an interesting conclusion…

During endurance events of intermediate duration (4-5 min), performance is enhanced by warm-up irrespective of warm-up intensity

Note, also this little tidbit –

There were no differences in anaerobic power output during the trials, but aerobic power output during the first 1000 m was larger during both EWU (203 W) and HWU (208 W) versus NWU (163 W) trials.

Huh. Go figure.

I pretty much never warm up for road races, unless I Know the first few K are going to be pedal to the metal. When people ask how I can get away with this (and they do!) I always respond with “that’s what the first lap/loop/5k is for.”

You can’t really get away with this in Cyclocross.

You need to hit that first K –  hell that first hundred meters – at 100%, with all guns blazing.

Warming up definitely improves your aerobic power output over the first K of a race.

End of story. You need to warm up for Cyclocross.

How much do you need to warm up?

Well, here’s where we get into interesting territory.

The study I linked to above basically showed no difference between the results of warm ups conducted at different levels of intensity and duration. The key was simply to do something to warm up,  to get the legs turning over.

However you do it, warming up helps.

Remember this the next time all hell breaks loose and you can barely get in any kind of a workout before your race. Even a little bit of a warm up helps.

OK, it’s just a study. Heck, it’s just one study.

Frankly, for Cyclocross, I think you need to warm up pretty hard, if for no other reason than that you don’t want the shock of the start effort to hit your body (and mind!) like a ton of bricks.

What you don’t need to do is warm up for a long time.

After a certain point, all a long warmup does is get you tired… and that ain’t good.

So what should your warm up look like?

Something like this…

Get on your bike.

Ride at a super easy level for 5 minutes. No pressure on pedals, recovery day light.

5 minutes more at just one notch higher.

2-3 minutes at right around your 20 minute output level.

  • then

2-3 minutes at one notch/gear easier

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes easy…

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes…

2 full-gas start efforts, 2 minutes between them.

Spin for 5 minutes.

Go race.

That’s just the actual warm up, though.

You need to figure in course preview time, getting all your stuff schlepped to where it needs to be, registration… the whole package.

In a perfect world, you would go ride for an hour in the morning several hours before your race, too!

The whole shebang is what’s important, and in that aforementioned perfect world, your race day would look something like this:

Wake up.

Eat breakfast.

Ride for an hour.

Snack, take a nap.

Eat lunch (3 hours before race.)

Course preview

(while mechanic preps bikes, team staff handles everything else.)

Snack, electrolyte drink, change into race clothing.

Warm up (that thing we just talked about)

Win Race.

Post-race cool down.

Yeah, right.

Oh well, we try.

Get as close to that as you can, and remember – the science shows that any warm up is better than none!

I’ve managed to do really well in races where the only warm up I got was a 1 or 2 lap preview of the course, and I know I’m not alone!

If you are forced to choose, always pre-ride rather than warm up.

You get a less than perfect course preview, and a less than perfect warm up, but part of each is better than none of one!

Ok, after all that, are you ready for the reality-based warm up?

It’s the –

R.S.W.O. – The Rock Stupid Warm-up and Opener –

First, get everything you need to do before the race done. Sign up, course preview, etc., etc. More questions you probably didn’t even have on the topic of race day routine answered here –

– Get on trainer. Spin for about 5 minutes.

– 2-3 minutes at your 20 minute output level

– Shift into big ring/largest cog combination.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Repeat until you hit the hardest gear you’ve got, or can handle.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, and then shift all the way back down to the Big/big combo.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, then immediately shift to hardest gear you can handle.

– Full gas sprint, out of the saddle, for 30 seconds.

Back to big/big combo.

– Spin for two minutes.

Repeat The entire sequence (Usually minus the 2nd “20 minute level” effort.)

Oddly enough, this really simple warm up winds up looking a whole heck of a lot like…



That’s the actual Team Sky Time Trial warmup. The photo is of a reminder sheet that was posted on the side of the team bus.

If it’s good enough for them..W

Have fun,


* If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about when I say “20 minute level”, check this out…

** The Warm Up routines I describe here are actually pretty hard, and believe it or not, are likely to be too damn hard and too long for non-elite racers. You will need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to cut the warm up short, or go easier. You don’t get a prize for winning the warm up!


The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Saturday, 11.17.18. “Yeah, it’s openers”

•November 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

We’re operating under the assumption that you’re racing tomorrow, which means that today? Today you need to do some…

Can Openers – 




Here’s the drill:

– Warm up for 1/2 hour or so, spinning easy with a couple of short bursts thrown in.

– Follow with several short attacking efforts, IE 30 seconds at 80% of your max, or pretty damn hard. 2 – 3 of ’em.

– Back off and spin for 5 minutes.

– Follow with 10-15 minute effort at right about your 2×20 output level, 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 hard 10 second efforts, ideally on CX type variable terrain, level or slightly uphill.

– Finish  with 5-6 start efforts on a straight section of paved road, level or slightly uphill.  You want to begin these from a dead stop, with one foot unclipped. Do not stop until you get at least 3 perfect starts in a row, and I mean perfect. This is the cross equivalent of practicing free throws. Make ‘em count!

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



The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 11.16.18. “Long-ish story, told short-ish”

•November 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Friday again. Insert usual blather about “what you do today really depends on what you’re doing this weekend.”

Long story short? Racing on Sunday, take it easy today. Racing tomorrow?


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 Thursday, 11. 15.18. “More speedy speediness”

•November 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

More speed work today, with a little bit of skills-ey-ness thrown in to the mix.

Today we’re doing…


Mount-Up Sprints…


Start dismounted from bike.

Run up to speed, mount bike, clip in, then immediately out of the saddle.

Full-gas sprint for ten seconds.

Recover riding easy for one minute, then…

dismount, run up to speed, mount, full gas sprint for ten seconds.


6 reps per set, 2-5 minutes between sets.

5 sets.




The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 11.14.18. “Speedy Speedness”

•November 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Sorry this is going up so late. Just a crazy damn day today.

So, quickly… we’re going to focus on speed. (hah!)

Honestly, if you’re getting pretty darn close to the end of your season – as many/most people up here in the Seattle area are – you should probably be focused on speed in all of your workouts right about now.


Skills work. Speedy Skills Work…


Here we go…

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 minutes , just ’cause.

– 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.

4 – 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, fast but not all-out.

When you start to get the feel for things, hit it hard a couple of times, then back off.

Feeling solid?


Get  yourself ready to go hard.

– Bang! Six full-gas starts.

– short effort, just go long enough that you are up to full speed, then back down, turn around, go again.

Spin easy for a couple of minutes, then…

– Bang! ~pause~ Bang!

– Six full-gas starts, but each start effort will look like this…

– Full effort start from a dead-stop, foot on ground.

– As soon as you get up to full speed, sit back in saddle, take one deep breath, go again, HARD!

– Ouch.

5 – Recover for a few minutes, then Finish the night with two short 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.

– 5 minutes full gas, rest for 2 minutes, then go again for another 5.

– Start each effort with, well… with a start. Like you were working on a couple of minutes ago…

Warm down, go home, relax.





The #Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday 11.13.18. “VOno nonsense”

•November 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Do you own a power meter? Today you’re doing…

VOmax intervals.

(With the usual caveat that if you aren’t really well recovered from the weekend – and you probably aren’t – you should almost certainly take today off instead.)

Warm up

20 min @ 40 % of FTP
throw a couple of efforts at or > ftp in during warm up to make sure you’re ready

Repeat 12 times:


50 sec @ 110 % of FTP


10 sec @ 75 % of FTP


15 min @ 40 % of FTP

Do the above 3 times, then…

Cool Down

10 min @ 40 % of FTP


No power meter? No clue about this FTP stuff?

No sweat. Today is, after all…

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, 11.12.18. “Sweet vid, man”

•November 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Happy Monday! As you probably know by now, we like to start off the week with a nice, relaxing…


Recovery Spin…

Just like it sounds…

– 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.


Sweet! Race vid from Saturday to enjoy if you happen to be spinning on the trainer today!