Strength Training and Endurance Performance.

mouse Strength training does not increase endurance performance, but you should probably do it anyway.

What exactly is strength?  For our purposes, I would  define neuromuscular strength as:  The ability of the muscle fibers   to produce   force.  In the case of a cyclist this would be the force against the pedals.     Endurance cycling doesn’t require much strength.    From a practical and mathematic  standpoint: The force required to push against the pedals while doing  a 40K TT at 90 RPM in under an  hour is less than 45lbs  of force.   Strength and force production simply aren’t a limiting component of putting out the power required for endurance performance.      From a pure scientific standpoint: I am aware of no  peer reviewed studies that indicate strength training in trained cyclists   improves  endurance performance, and I’ve seen several that show  no increase.   There is a preponderance of evidence to show that strength training will not improve your 20 or 40K.

But you should probably do it anyway.

One reason is that bike racing requires more than just steady power outputs and strength training CAN improve sprinting performance.  The US  racing scene is dominated by criteriums, which  require frequent hard accelerations out of corners and  almost always come down to a sprint, even if it is only between a few riders.  Non racers enjoy sprinting too, and we all know that  every club rider wants to throw down in the sprint for the city limit sign.    Even if you don’t consider yourself a sprinter, most races will involve some sort of sprint.   Very seldom does a rider just roll away from his or her rivals, so even the  135lb climber is probably going to have to sprint against someone to get the win.   For a mountain bike racer, a finishing sprint may not be important.  But improved strength can help power over that log, rock, or step up.

Another reason to do strength training is that it can help with your bone density and therefore your long term health.  In 2003 when I was studying exercise physiology at San Diego State University, two of my professors authored a paper titled, “ Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists.”  The take away message from study was that cycling may keep you fit, but it doesn’t keep your bones strong.   What does keep your bones strong is weight bearing activity, so most  cyclists ( men and women alike)  would be well served by adding strength training or other  bearing activity to their fitness regime.

Besides improving sprinting performance and increasing bone density,  a little  strength training  can also help prevent injuries, and just make you an overall healthier person.   A little shoulder and core strength can help you maintain that aero position longer and more comfortably, or prevent  back pain that some riders get on long rides, especially hilly ones. You aren't going to be come an amazing climber by doing crunches, and core work is not going to win the race for you.   But weakness and back pain can very easily kill your race.  One of my favorite reasons to strength train is another one altogether: Sometimes it feels good to just go to the gym and lift heavy stuff.

So if some weight training is appropriate for most riders, that just lead to many more questions such as: How Much?  What type?  and When?     The details of this can be a bit more complicated and must be a tailored to each individual rider.   It is important to remember that the best way to get better at riding your bike is to ride your bike.   So  for a committed bike racer, on “on the bike “  training is going to take precedence.     Most riders will benefit from doing most of their strength training during the winter, when it is the off season,  the days are short, and training volume goes down.    The weight training will help you stay fit through those winter days,  and strength training for only a short time each off season can pay dividends all year around.  Some cyclists, such as track sprinters and even some criterium specialists, may do weight training even during the racing season.   Cyclist will also have to balance their overall training stress, the total time they have to train, possible weight gain, their natural abilities, their desire to be more well-rounded as an athlete, and  many other factors.

We are coming up on the shortest day of the year,  so  it can be tough to get in weekday rides.   If you haven’t already begun an off season weight training program, now may be a good time to start.   Talk to a coach that is well versed and educated on strength training as well as cycling, do your own research, or find a well-qualified strength coach to help you develop your plan*.

Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling.

*If you choose to go with a  strength coach  rather than a cycling coach, I  would suggest going with someone with a   Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist ( CSCS) certification.   CSCS   is the gold standard for strength and conditioning coaches

7 Reasons You Should Race in Mexico

I’ve got many friends who live and /or race on both side of the US/Mexico border.  Some of them live in Tijuana or Ensenada, but many of them live north of that line in the dirt.   Don’t let that border fence keep you from going down south and having a great ride.  

    • The racing is cheap.   For example, my friend Omar Lozano is promoting a race in Tijuana On November 30th,  and entry fees run between 180 and 250 pesos, depending on your category.   That’s only $15/$20.   That makes the entry fees about half of what they are in the US  (Americans may have to pay $2-3 dollars more for insurance)
    • Tijuana and Mexico in General are safe. I usually accumulate several weeks in Mexico each year, and I’ve never felt unsafe. Of course there are some bad neighborhoods,  just as there are in any city.  There are neighborhoods right here in San Diego where I wouldn’t want to walk around after dark.  The same goes for LA, New York, or any big city.
    • The racing is fun! There is just something about racing in Mexico that is different than racing in the US.   Everyone races hard, but I feel like nobody takes themselves too seriously.  The racing scene in Mexico reminds me of cyclocross and MTB racing, in that the racing is hard and the athlete are fit.   But everyone is also having a great time.
    • The border wait has been significantly reduced. For the last decade or so, the San Ysidro Border wait could be a big barrier, with borders waits reaching 3 hours at peak times.   But recent opening of additional lanes, has reduced the  border wait during those peak times to 45 minutes, and sometimes as little as 15!
    • You don’t have to drive your car across the border. Many of the Americans that I know  ride across and to the race, so that is always an option.  You can also park your car on the north side of the border, cross by foot, and hop in a minivan cab to get a ride to the race.    The races in Tijuana are not far from the border and a cab ride will be cheap.    If you do drive, it is a good idea to get Mexican insurance from our friends at Baja Bound.  Your insurance company may cover you for somewhere around 20-25 miles into Mexico, but if you get in a fender bender, the Mexican authorities won’t recognize it.   Yet another option is to get a shuttle from Chula Vista to the  race v   I personally have an annual policy from Baja Bound, so I prefer to simple drive across.
    • You can have some great food while you are there:   Tijuana  is a great up an coming culinary scene.   And whether you prefer gourmet meals, or  food from a street cart, TJ has some of the best.  In fact I’ve never been much for ceviche or sushi but I’ve recently grown fond if it,  And some of the best fish I’ve ever had in my life was from places with plastic tables and chairs in Mexico.
    • It feels like a mini adventure: Even though I cross the border frequently, I still feel like it is a small adventure every time I do. It just breaks up the monotony of doing the same  thing every day, or every weekend.

     

    If you’d like to give racing in Mexico a try, you’ve got a great opportunity to give it a go on November 30th.   But even if you can’t  race that day, keep an eye on Omar’s website for his races in the US and Mexico.

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SRM Raw Power

SRM_RAW

Are  you using a Cannondale, Specialized, Rotor, or SRAM crank?  Looking for an SRM?  We have the deal for you.  For only $1490, you can get an SRM Powermeter.  This powermeter attache and  replaces the existing spider on your cranks.   This is an excellent way to get SRM Power on your bike for a great price!  Ready to go?  Have questions?  Contact Coach Burke at  sean@crankcycling.com or call 619-865-3389

3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge Ride Report

3rd Annual Boulder Creek Challenge: Gravel Grinder, Challenge Ride, Fundraiserboulder creek 1 Last Saturday November 8th, riders congregated in Descanso to participate in the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge.  The BCC began in 2012 as a way to have a great day on the bike as well as raise money and awareness for San Diego Velo Youth, a program that uses cycling as a tool to reach kids from at-risk schools and teach them about life skills.     The ride itself is a little over 60 miles, with over 6500 feet of climbing, most of it during the first 30 miles and on a dirt road.   The ride isn’t described as a race, but riders vie  for prizes at 3 KOM points along the route.  The nearly 5000 feet of climbing on dirt roads would mean that many would call it a gravel grinder one of the many gravel bikes on the market is probably the ideal bike for the ride.  We call it a “challenged ride” and riders are encouraged to challenge themselves, but equally as important is the fact that 100% of the proceeds go to San Diego VeloYouth.

 

The neutral rollout in through Descanso boulder creek 2

 The weather was sunny but cool, and  the rain from the week before had left the dirt roads in excellent condition.   The riders followed the  lead truck  on the neutral rollout and got to warm their legs up for a few miles before the climbing began.  The lead vehicle pulled away on Oak Grove road and , the highly motivated pair of  Dana Weber from Stage21/Cannondale and Tim Zandbergen  of Rokform/Rock-n –Road immediately turned the screws.  Ten minutes later, the duo had left everyone behind and they actually approached  FIRST KOM so quickly that the event staff was caught by surprise and barely caught them as the crossed the line.   Tim was first to the top of the first dirt climb and took the prize of PowerBar energy blasts.

Weber and Zandbergen riding away, with smiles on their faces

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Struggling to keep the dynamic duo in sight.boulder creek 4

Ryan Johnson, Kevin Lentz and  Celo Pacific , as well as   Everett Hauser of Adams Ave bikes chased up the dirt road as Weber and Zandbergen  bombed the dirt descent, sometimes getting their skinny tires  a bit sideways in the dirt.   The two stuck together and only widened the gap on the chasers on the 1200 foot dirt climb.   Here, Boulder Creek climbs at 12% or more for extended stretches, and the riders had to sit down and grind it out in a struggle to keep traction in the dirt.  When the twosome approached the second KOM, the other riders were nowhere in sight.     Weber wheelied across the line to take the KOM prize of a gift certificate to Toast Enoteca and Cucina  wine bar, while Tim earned the second place reward of another box of PowerBar product.

Weber and Zandbergen  heading down the first dirt descent

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The KOM Point Awaits

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Some riders enjoyed a more leisurely pace up the dirt climbs

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It doesn’t get much better than thisboulder creek 8

After the second KOM, the road turned to pavement and the riders rode towards the 3rd KOM atop Engineers road.    Dana and Tim hammered uo the 1200 foot climb and then  relaxed as they  crossed the line together to each win a pair of Spy Performance sunglasses and wait for the others.   It was over 10 minutes before the Celo Pacific boys made it up to the top of Engineers road to claim third and fourth  at the final KOM, and nearly  30 minutes until all the riders that made the time cut at the turnoff for  Engineer’s road reached the top.     The entire front  group stopped to trade a few war stories  and refuel with PowerBar blast, gels, and bars, then descended Engineer’s and rode towards Julian to enjoy some well-earned pie.

Katie Crist won the women’s KOM at the  Boulder Creek Fire Station and a pair of Spy Sunglasses

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 Former Olympian and world record holder Shaun Wallace was the first rider to cross the 2nd KOM, without making the time cut, and apparently the first to Julian Pie Company. boulder creek 10

Riders relaxed at Julian Pie Company as the KOM winners were recognized, and some even went for a second helping of pie.  After some pie, some coffee, and some trading of stories,  the riders rolled off together   back towards Descanso.  The climbing wasn’t quite finished, with 500 feet of elevation gain between Julian and Descanso park.   The group once again found Weber and Zandbergen pushing the pace, but not enough to break away, as a group of 10 crested the final hill and rode downhill into Descanso.

Julian Pie Company

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Riders Relaxing at Julian Pie Company  before the descent back into Descanso

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We consider the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge  to be a huge success.    Everyone got to push their limits riding the beautiful dirt roads between Julian and Descanso.   The weather cooperated, we had some great pie, and we had great fun.    We also raised some money for San Diego VeloYouth and helped get kids from  at risk schools learning about life and riding bikes.     The 4th annual Boulder Creek Challenge will be some time during the first half of November 2015.  We hope  you’ll join us.

 

Sean is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.   Have a question for Sean or a topic you would like to see covered?   Contact Sean Via his website: CrankCycling.com

 

 

*All Photos Credit Elaine Hutchinson or Kathy Burcham

 

 

3rd Annual Boulder Creek Instructions and GPS files

Here is a GPS  file for the course: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6430837

You'll find a video on how to put GPS files on your garmin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO6z83sOBdw


Arrive at 8:30 or so in order to have time to sign waivers and have a brief preride meeting.  We will have KOM prizes provided by Spy Optic, Aqua Al Due, and Powerbar

    We’ll roll out  at 9 am with a neutral start out of  the Descanso Park and R de on  I-8 and the 79.  We’ll roll down the hill and into Descanso and after about 3.5 miles, the neutral vehicle will pull away and its time to unleash the hounds.  Soon after, the road turns to dirt and begins to go uphill.   About 10 miles into the ride there will be an aid station and  KOM Prize( PowerBar Product) for the first rider to crest the  hill,  and then you’ll have almost 5 miles of dirt road descent.   Use caution here or you’ll find yourself on the ground.   Your arms and legs will feel the fatigue as you control your bike down the dirt downhill.   Use extreme caution when crossing Boulder Creek around mile 15.  If there has been any rain recently, the crossing will be as slick as ice and the mossy surface will pull your bike out from underneath you like a magic carpet.      You are now 800 feet lower than   the original start point, and you’ve got to climb your way out.     Don’t start off too hard, as the next KOM point is still 6.5 miles and over 1200 feet of climbing away.    At times, you’ll struggle to keep  the power down as the grade exceeds 12% and your  rear wheel  spins out in the dirt.     The second  KOM prize ( Aqua Al 2 gift certificate)  is at the intersection of Boulder Creek and Engineers Road.

The road turns to pavement here and the front group will turn right towards the 3rd KOM9 (Spy Optic)  ~4 miles and 1000 feet  up  Engineers road.  Anyone that is 20 minutes behind the front group will go straight and skip the third KOM  to go directly  to Julian.   When we arrive in Julian we’ll take a LEFT at the main street and  and enjoy some well earned apple pie at Julian Pie Company     Before long we’ll all head out of town and back towards the start.  The ride is mostly downhill from here, but we still haven’t hit the high point at  Paso Picacho State Park, 500 feet above Julian .  The downhill after the Paso Picacho is dangerous.   Pay attention to the warning signs and go slower than you think you should.  I’ve seen several riders on the ground and  have pulled  one  up off the tarmac myself.        From here you’ll  the relaxing downhill all the way back to Descanso as your hard earned reward.

Notes:

You should have a GPS file, and the course will also be marked,  It is pretty difficult to get lost out there, as once we hit builder creek there  really aren't any turns.  Several riders have done the course before, and know the route, and the sag vehicle will also direct you if you are unsure.

There will be aid stations and the first to KOM points stocked with PowerBar Product, as well as some roving support and a sag vehicle.   You should still plan to be self sufficient,  as it may take a while for the sag vehicle to catch you.   This means carry flat repair, water and food.

You can so this ride on a road bike with 23C tires and carbon wheels, a mountain bike, or anything in between.   I know because I've done it on all of these and had a great time doing it.    A gravel grinder type bike with ~28C tires or so is probably  the ideal bike for the ride, but you'll have fun on any bike you ride.

As far as gearing goes, if you are a stong climber, you'll be fine in a 53 X 25 ( even if it is hard, you'll make it up everything)   If you are not such a strong climber, then  compact chanring, OR at least a 28 in the back is a good idea.

The weather looks  ideal for the weekend,  it was near perfect when I rode it on Tuesday.  You probabaly won't need any layer, but if you do need them you can drop them off in a  (non- moving) support vehicle.   I'll brief you on this some more before the ride.

I'll see you all bright and early on Saturday!
-Sean

Great SRM Deal with the new PC8!

Wow, this is a really great deal we are authorized to offer through SRM, and many people will find this too good to pass up.   Its pretty simple, you get a new Dura Ace SRM training system for only $2995.  It comes with a PC7 and a voucher to upgrade to the PC8 at no cost when it comes out in December.  That is a pretty cool deal if you ask me!     Just conact Coach Burke: Sean@CrankCycling.com,  or call us at 619-865-3389 and he'll get you started on your new SRM! Amazing SRM Deal

Do some weight bearing exercise!

Cycling will  keep you fit and is great for cardiovascluar health and fitness.  But many studies have sown that masters athletes who only cycle, have lower bone density from masters athletes who also do weight bearing activity.    So do some weight bearing activity this fall and winter.  Strength training, running, hiking, and team sports such as soccer  or basketball are all great examples. MattMHike

 

 

 

The trouble with putting on a bike race in San Diego.

The problem with putting on a bike race in San Diego: Why are there so few bike races in San Diego?  It’s pretty simple:   The city doesn’t support them in any way.  In 2010, I wrote about why it costs $10,000 to put on an industrial park crit, in 2011and 2012, I wrote about how it costs $12,000 and then $13,500 to put  on an industrial park crit.   I’ve stopped writing one of those blog posts each year, but I assure you the costs have not gone down.   I’m lucky that I have a good spot on the calendar, and I get enough entries to make the event successful.   Yes, I put a little money in my pocket each year, but it really isn’t much.   Without the support of Spy Optic as title sponsor,  I probably would have called it quits a few years ago.  But recently, I’ve had some additional problems.

 

Problems after 10 years of racing the “Top Gun” course.

Shortly after the race in 2013, I got a call from the San Diego city permit office, asking me to talk with a business owner who was unhappy with the race.  Lou owns one of the buildings on Top Gun, where the Red Trolley Classic course had been for over 10 years.  He had called the city to express his displeasure at the closure of the road in front of one of his buildings, and claimed that one of the lessees had complained.   There are two businesses on Top Gun that are open the day of the race (typically the same Sunday as the Superbowl), a caterer and a cleaner.  Both businesses had minimal traffic that day, but they and their customers needed to get in and out.   I remedied this by putting up appropriate signage on Flanders that fed the customers through the alley and around in front of the business.    This seemed like a minimal impact of the business and the customers, as the total number of drivers coming in and out was fewer than 20, but this still wasn’t acceptable to Lou.   He was also upset that some of the racers had parked in his parking lot.   I had put up signage (that was summarily ignored by  many racers), but promised to put a person standing there all day in 2014 to be sure that nobody parked in his lot, but that was not acceptable to Lou either.   He made it clear that he wanted us gone, and would fight me every step of the way through the permit procedure.   I later called the City of San Diego permit office, and told them that I thought Lou was being unreasonable, and that I would do whatever I could to mitigate any impact to his business, but that he made it clear that he was going to fight me over the permit no matter what.  The special events administrator at the city basically told me that the permit office would side with the business owner by default; that the business owner didn’t have to prove his business was impacted; that it would be very difficult to get the permit if he wanted to fight me;  and  the fact that I have been holding this event for over a decade carried no weight whatsoever.   She also suggested that I use “the  course that the Cyclovets use” also known as the Hunnekens course.   I’m a very principled man and it ate me up inside to give into this bully, but I decided I would make lemons into lemonade.

 

Hunnekens and CAF

In 2014 I moved the race to the Hunnekens course.  I worked with Nico Marcolongo, the program manager for CAF Operation Rebound, to use the CAF parking lot as a registration and expo area.  There was only one business owner or representative on the racecourse that had concerns and that was Chris Nicholson, the manager of a lab that was inside the course.   Chris told me that they tested biological samples for Scripps hospitals and that samples needed to be delivered 24/7.    I addressed his concerns by reserving parking for his employees and couriers directly across the street, as well as providing a 4 seater golf cart to offer rides and to help couriers with any large containers.   We didn’t track the number of times a courier needed access to the building that day, but I’m positive that it was fewer than 10.   The event was a great success.  We had record participation numbers, we made a small but meaningful donation to Operation Rebound, and I heard no complaints from Chris Nicholson or anyone else on the course.

Trouble Ahead

I turned in the permit for Red Trolley 2015 in mid-September.   In years past, I would sometimes wait until as late as November to turn in my paper work.  However  a lawsuit against the city over the Sea World fireworks and a subsequent agreement requires an environmental study for each and every special event permitted in the city of San Diego.  These studies take time, and so the permit needs to be turned in earlier than in years past.  I assumed everything was going to go just as well as 2014 until I got a call from Cindy at the special events office.   Apparently Mr. Nicholson was unhappy about the Cyclovets Summer Classic Criterium on September 21, and was asking that no more permits for bike races are approved on Hunnekens street.   Cindy suggested that I find another course and that for all intent and purpose the city was highly likely to side with the Scripps Lab Manager.   I was again informed that neither 10+ year history of the race nor the mutual support between the event and CAF would count for anything.  I immediately called Mr. Nicholson and asked him how I could address his concerns.   Chris told me that the races were disruptive and that walking across the street and getting a ride in the cart was not working.   After a few minutes of discussion, it came down to the fact that he didn’t want his employees to be inconvenienced in any way.  He claimed that the lab had grown, the system we had put in was not working, and that those samples had to be delivered in a timely manner.  My insistence that the samples would still be delivered faster than they could be on any weekday fell on deaf ears, and Chris promised to fight the permits for all future cycling  events on the street in front of the lab.

On the 21st, I was present at the Hunnekens course to volunteer for the race.   I spent about 5 hours out on the course doing whatever needed to be done, and trying to make myself useful.   I spoke with the race organizer after the race and he confirmed that there were a few samples delivered to the lab throughout the day, but that it was fewer than 10 trips made be the courier that day and there did not seem to be any problems.   We also spoke about how we would stick together in an attempt to continue using the course.   On Monday, 9/22 I received a call from a police officer that works with the special events office.  The officer told me that she had heard from the lab manager last week, and she “strongly suggested” that I find another course.   I spoke wither again on 9/23, and she reiterated that if I were to fight for my permit I would most likely lose,  and that I wouldn’t even really get a chance to offer my side of the story any further.

What to do for 2015?

So the officials at the city made it clear that a business owner or manager simply has to claim that they are negatively impacted by a small special event and that the city will side with the business owner by default.  The complainant doesn’t have to prove or substantiate any sort of loss, they simply have to say that they don’t support the event and the event promoter has to prove otherwise.   So now I’m stuck.   If I fight the business manager and lose, I won’t have enough time to apply for a new permit in a new place.  My other option is to give into another jerk, give up on Hunnekens, and search for a new spot:  A spot that is as fun to race as Hunnekens or Top Gun, but where not a single business owner will complain.  I’m open to suggestions.

Do you know anyone that works in high level management at Scripps?

Do you have any ideas for a race course?

Share your thoughts with me via email.  Sean@crankcycling.com

Free Tires

Do you need some tires?  Of course you do... everyone needs tires!   Well, we have a deal for you.    All you need to do, is refer a friend to us for coaching.  Then when they sign up for coaching,  we'll  hook YOU  up with a free pair of  Hutchinson tires.   Its pretty simple!.  Just send us an email or use the contact form on the side of this page.     Do you need LOTS of tires?   Refer more than one friend and you won't have to buy tires for months!  This offer is only good through September 15th, so don't wait  too long!

Joseph LaCour Wins National Championship

Joseph Lacour won the scrathc race national championships for his age group at  master's track cycling nat's in August.   Joseph has worked hard for this, and has multiple  elite and master's state championships, but this is his first stars and stripes  jersey.   We are very proud of Joseph, and he is Coach Burke's 2nd national champ this year.  See Shawn Olin and his partner Lance who won the visually impaired tandem road race in July, and went on to represent the US at the paracycling world chaompionships.josephnatspodium pic

How much should you train? You may not like the answer.

How many miles a week should you ride? Such a simple question, but the answer isn't so  simple.  For starters “How many miles should I ride” isn’t really the right question, as not all miles are the same. Riding 50 miles on flat ground being pulled along by a group is not the same as doing a hilly ride, braving the wind in a solo effort. “How much should I train?” is really the better question. But still, there are different ways to measure “how much.” Power meters are now a common site on the bikes of pro and amateur riders alike. But before the power meter era, heart rate was considered the gold standard in training technology and many athletes used a heart rate X time metric known as TRIMP*. Now that a bike can be outfitted with a power meter for under a thousand dollars, riders of all levels are using the power related metrics as their preferred method of measuring training volume and stress. A power meter user can track daily and weekly kilojoules, and training stress score, along with acute and chronic training load as well as training stress balance**. While I love both training and coaching with a power meter, I also use a much simpler metric that pre-dates heart rate training, and power: The watch.

Saddle time is a simple metric that anyone can measure, and endurance athletes have been measuring their training in this manner for as long as endurance athletes have existed. Of course an hour at race pace is not the same training stress and an hour at recovery pace. But weekly training hours will give you a pretty good idea of total training volume. Weekly hours are not only easy to measure, but easy to understand. Some riders don’t care to learn about or use hears rate monitors or power meters. For these riders, weekly hours is going to be their best measure of how much they are training. So then the question is: “How many hours a week should I train?”

Don't overdo it and wind up looking like this

People naturally prefer simple answers to questions. But even seemingly simple questions have complex or even unclear answers. Answers to questions like: “How much improvement will I see from coaching?” or “How much should I train each week?” are difficult to answer, because everyone is different. Anyone that tells you to expect an exact amount of improvement or tells you that everyone should train a certain amount is either uninformed or untruthful.  As far as how much you should train, the answer for most people is:  As much as you can without it being too much…as much as you can train, and still recover both physically and mentally from the training.  You should train as much as you can while still ensuring that you get in the quality and intensity of your workouts. You should train as much as you can while still succeeding in your career, having a balanced social life, enjoying family time, and keeping your significant other happy.

When I’m planning the training for my athletes, the “A” (top priority) events go into the calendar first. The next items to go into the calendar are family, work, and travel commitments. The first workouts to go into the calendar are the highest intensity workouts. These efforts are typically the most important workouts of the week, and the integrity of these workouts must be maintained. If you don’t get them right, you are just spinning your wheels. Most amateur riders should not try and do the same volume of training that professional riders do, as the pros are dealing with a completely different set of commitments, priorities and circumstances. I’ve seen riders read about the weekly hours that the professionals train, and try to replicate it themselves. But for a professional rider, training IS their career. The pro rider can concentrate on recovery by napping, eating, relaxing on the couch, and maybe getting a massage. While the amateur rider with a 40+ hour a week job is often doing things that are counterproductive to recovery. Some riders increase their training volume and actually get slower, because they aren’t recovering properly in between hard workouts. One of my jobs as a coach is to ascertain: What is the optimal training load for that individual athlete. Some athletes are limited by how much time they can actually spend on the bike. For these riders, the task is to ensure that they are spending their time wisely. Some athletes have practically unlimited time to train, but I need to ensure they are recovering properly and not overdoing it. As an athlete it can be difficult to see when you are a pushing it a little too much, and that is when the objective eye of a coach can become invaluable. Athletes all have different needs, time, and stressors in their lives. All of these things must be taken into account when determining how much training volume and athlete can handle. There is no easy answer to “How many miles a week should I ride” or “ How many hours a week should I train”. It seems like a simple question, but there isn’t a simple answer. Do you need help figuring out how much is enough without being too much? Use the contact form on the right side of this page to contact us.

*TRIMP was developed by Dr Eric Bannister. Google will help you if you need to know more. ** Training Stress Score is based on the original work by Bannister. This and other terms were developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen. Check out the book “Racing and Training with a PowerMeter” for more information.

3rd Annual Boulder Creek Challenge Benefiting VeloYouth.

The  Third annual Boulder Creek Challenge  Benefiting VeloYouth is scheduled for November 8th.   What do you get for your  entry fee?   A fun, unique, supported ride, as well as pie, and the satisfaction of knowing that all proceeds to to San Diego Veloyouth. Benefiting  SDVY

3rd annual Boulder Creek  Challenge  benefiting VeloYouth – November 8th 2014

Registration Here.

The Boulder Creek Challenge Benefitting VeloYouth is a 52 mile ride, but the distance can be deceptive.   The ride features a deceptively difficult 5500 feet of climbing, including dirt climbs and descents.    We’ll begin at 9 am with a neutral start out of  the Descanso Park and ride on  I-8 and the 79.  We’ll roll down the hill and into Descanso and after about 3.5 miles, the neutral vehicle will pull away and its time to unleash the hounds.  Soon after, the road turns to dirt and begins to go uphill.   About 10 miles into the ride there will be a King of the Mountain Prize for the first rider to crest the  hill,  and then you’ll have almost 5 miles of dirt road descent.   Use caution here or you’ll find yourself on the ground.   Your arms and legs will feel the fatigue as you control your bike down the dirt downhill.   Use extreme caution when crossing Boulder Creek around mile 15.  If there has been any rain recently, the crossing will be as slick as ice and the mossy surface will pull your bike out from underneath you like a magic carpet.      You are now 800 feet lower than   the original start point, and you’ve got to climb your way out.     Don’t start off too hard, as the next KOM point is still 6.5 miles and over 1200 feet of climbing away.    At times, you’ll struggle to keep  the power down as the grade exceeds 12% and your  rear wheel  spins out in the dirt.     The KOM point is at the intersection of Boulder Creek and Engineers Road.

PRIZES from SPY

The road turns to pavement here and the front group will do bonus miles over engineers road,  while the  rest of the group, will ride a more direct route to Julian.   When we arrive in Julian we’ll regroup at the Apple Valley Bakery on Main Street and enjoy some well earned apple pie.     Before long we’ll begin our neutral start out of town and back towards the start.  The ride mostly downhill from here, but we still haven’t hit the high point and final KOM  at Paso Picacho State Park, 500 feet above Julian miles into the ride.   The downhill after the KOM is dangerous.   Pay attention to the warning signs and go slower than you think you should.  I’ve seen several riders on the ground here and  have pulled  one  up off the tarmac myself.         From here you’ll  the relaxing downhill all the way back to Descanso as your hard earned reward.384225_4864079602116_1405670320_n

So what is the best bike for this ride?   I’ve done it on my road bike, cyclocross bike, and mountain bike.  The road bike is great on the paved portions but can be tough on the steep uphills and is both slower and more difficult on the extended downhills.    A lightweight mountain bike may even be the best bike to use if you want to go after the first two KOM points, but you’ll pay for the added weight and rolling resistance when the dirt turns into pavement.    Whatever bike you choose you’ll be happy with it at some points, and frustrated at others.     No   matter what bike you ride, it will make for a fun and different ride, with an apple pie stop in the middle.  You’ll also be helping out a great cause. Registration Here.

NUTRITION from POWERBAR

NUTRITION from POWERBAR

Rules:

 

The   entry fee is $35 until September 1 September 15, $45  until October 15, and $60 after November 1  and all proceeds go to San Diego VeloYouth.

Pre registration is required and closes the Wednesday before the ride.

T he roads are open to traffic and this is a “challenge” not a race.     Obey all traffic laws and do not make an ass out of yourself or you may get hurt or worse…. hurt someone else.

Do not fall off of your bike.  If you push it on the dirt downhill,  you will fall off of your bike, so use  the 80% rule on the downhills (dirt and paved!).  That means go 80% as fast as you think you should.

You must regroup  In Julian, roll out with the group, and finish at the Park and Ride in Descanso to claim any KOM prizes.  

Be self sufficient.   There will be some sag support, but don’t depend on it.    Carry tubes, air,  food, drink, and money.

Everyone must sign a waiver before the start69697_4864042201181_397887428_n_001

 

 

Additional stuff

Bars, gels, and  more provided by PowerBar.

There will be a sag vehicle at the first  two KOM  points,  as well as a  broom wagon following the last  rider.    But please carry tools, tubes, etc.

Anyone who does not eat Pie in Julian is ineligible for KOM prizes.

UPDATEL7/30/12   Coach Burke is Buying the pie!

I'll  buy  Pie for everyone.    Feel free to buy yourself some coffe or Hot Chocolate in Julian powerbarteamelite

The dirt road can be tough on your hands, don’t forget the gloves.

I am serious about the downhills, dirt ones and the paved one after the final KOM will mess you up if you push it too hard.  Don’t ruin your day or anyone else’s.   We don’t want to peel you up off the ground.

The course isn’t marked, familiarize yourself with the map, download the GPS file below, or stick with someone who knows where they are going.   If you don’t know where to go, you can always wait for the sweeper.  No one will be left behind.

GPS Files will be added soon

Registration Here.

Photos From  2012 and 2013

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Training Tip for Racing in the Heat

Do you have an event coming up where you know the mercury will be reaching the triple digits?   Full heat accilmation can take weeks, but you'll see some benefit in as little as a few days. If you have an event that is going to be in a warmer climate that your normal training rides, you can do some workouts in the heat  the week before to get yourself ready. Increased  blood plasma volume and a shift in the composition of your sweat are some of the changes that  will begin to occur.  If its not hot enough where you live and train, just do some trainer sessions and get that core temperature up.     A big pool of sweat underneath the trainer is a sign that you are doing it right.  Just be sure to hydrateduring and after the ride!

Racing outside of your strengths

By Trina Jacobson

In February,  Trina wrote about why you should sometimes race outside of your comfort zone.   Here she tells you about some of her personal experiences  doing races that did not play to her strengths:

Why do road races , criteriums, or other events that don’t play to your strengths? The short answer is that it challenges you both mentally and physically.

To enter an event that doesn’t play to your strengths takes some self evaluation:

-    Can I physically do this?

-    What is a realistic goal for this race?

-    What do I need to do differently for this race compared to others?

 

And the answers to the above questions begin the mental challenge of knowing you’ll perform to your abilities, skills, and fitness not to your hopes and dreams. Managing these expectations with regards to THIS event, prepares you for expectation management in events you are already strong in.

For example, when I line up at a local criterium, there is a fair amount of confidence in my abilities to perform well based on past performance. This is my strength, and I’ve done so many of them that the fear of the unknown is gone, because I’ve done most everything you can do in a crit: blown up and spit out the back, lapped multiple times, helped teammates win, won with the help of teammates, won without teammates, etc.

A road race with any kind of sustained climb does not play to my strength, however I have entered a few road races. Could I physically do this? Yes, I could physically ride the distance and elevation. I may not be doing it with the rest of the field, but I could do it. What is a realistic goal for this race? 1) stay with the group for a long as possible/longer than the last time and 2) help my teammates when I’m able to. What do I need to do differently for this race compared to others? 1) train a little differently, race a little differently and 2) eat a lot.

After completing what would become my best ever effort in a road race, I was completely spent and it took me days to recover physically. This is what I learned and how my crit racing has improved:

-    I had never gone as hard for as long as I did that day —> no excuses to skip out on an interval on a training ride (as long as you aren’t harming yourself).

-    I actually emptied the tank —> I have never emptied the tank in a crit, but now that I know what it feels like, let’s do it.

-    I am a good teammate —> I have a deeper appreciation for my teammates that work for me in a race, which helps with the race-time communication.

-    I was stressed before the race because I didn’t know how it would go —> I managed my stress successfully and I can use that skill at any race (or life event).

All of these things can be summed up by: My cycling as a whole is richer. My skills, experiences, and connections were deepened and strengthened. I have new and better appreciation for the local crits and have challenged myself further by taking it to the next level of a few races on the national level.

You don’t have to be a racer to apply this to yourself. The same can be said for the gran fondo rider or the weekend warrior who goes to the local group rides.

Fall Cycling Camp in Carsbad CA

POWER TRAINING CAMPGreenville Cycling & Multi-Sport and Crank Cycling are joining up to bring you a world-class training camp in sunny Southern California October 12-19,  2014. Based in Carlsbad, this camp will provide the enthusiast rider and the avid racer an opportunity to train out of a relaxing seaside resort, the Carlsbad Inn. We’ll blend a variety of rides up and down the beautiful SoCal coast along the Pacific Coast Highway with awesome rolling rides around northern San Diego County including an excursion to Palomar Mountain. Off the bike you can enjoy the trendy cafés and restaurants of Carlsbad Village just steps from the Pacific Ocean. Camp will include plenty of skills training: cornering, climbing, descending, pace-line technique as well as nutrition strategy and how to recover quickly day to day and within rides. Designed as a power training camp, you will use your own power meter or we will pair your bike with a PowerTap wheel for the duration of the camp. Each evening we will review your day on the bike in a classroom style discussion along with presentations on nutrition, training plan design and more!

For pricing, and more information, check out or flyer here:

GCC San Diego Spring Camp Oct 2014 

_MG_7231 _MG_7184 IMG_1418 _MG_6982 _MG_7008 _MG_7169

 

 

 

 

GCC San Diego Spring Camp Oct 2014 

XC Mountain Bike Racing in Wet Conditions

XC Mountain Bike Racing in Wet Conditions By Richard La China

mudmen

 

After the wet and muddy race conditions this past weekend, I was inspired to share these tips...

Mud

First off, mud is going to stick pretty much everywhere on your bike.pam

Spraying Pam Cooking Spray on your frame, pedals, and tires will help a ton.  Make sure to avoid getting any of this spray on your rotors and brake calipers.

The Pam spray will reduce the mud build-up and give you a better chance of keeping your bike rolling.  Also, if you end up having to run a section of the course, you'll appreciate the fact that your bike doesn’t have 25 pounds of mud stuck to it. 

Lubricant

Use a thick chain lubricant. A thin chain lube can wash away rather quickly, but a thinker one will stay put, even when coated in mud.

 

Braking

Brake a bit early before a corner because brake pads will not be as responsive as in dry conditions.

 

Visibility

Wear a cycling cap under the helmet to shield some of the rain from hitting your glasses. Also, using an anti-fog product (Rain-X) does wonders in preventing you from becoming legally blind on a technical climb or descent.

Mind Control

Stick with it. Bad weather can cause a lot of racers to mentally check out either before the race even starts (the DNS group) or half-way into the race (the DNF group). This leaves the field wide open for the podium spots for those that simply refuse to quit and/or ride aggressively.

 

Tires

mudtires

There are two schools of thought on tire selection.

  • Option 1: Race a wide, aggressive tire that can grab the terrain (while shedding mud).  Problems with this is if you have narrow chain/seat stays (and/or fork), the mud can build up between your tire and the stay eventually slowing you down to a halt.   If you have plenty of clearance, this may be a good option.
  • Option 2: Skinny is better (1.95 or 1.75).  The idea is that the skinny tire can cut through the mud and find some terrain to connect with.  Also, this provides for good clearance between your chain/seat stays thus less mud build up.

Clothing

When it's wet, it's usually cold.   So, the tendency is to wear more clothing.  Be careful, there is a fine balance between wearing enough to keep warm, and too much potentially causing performance inhibiting over-heating.   If you haven't warm warmed up yet and you're already warm -- you're probably wearing too much.

Nutrition / Hydration

Just because it's cooler and you're surrounded by water -- doesn't mean you don't need to drink.  Use your water bottle, catching rain drops on your tongue isn't enough.   Also, this is still a race -- make sure you eat as you normally would.  Because of the wet conditions, you'll want to keep your hands on the handlebars more than normal -- with this in mind, make sure you food is easily accessible (pre-opened packages, snacks in foil, PowerBar Gels taped to your top tube, etc.).

Practice

If you think there’s a chance you’ll be racing in wet conditions, go practice riding in wet conditions!   However, if the trails are really wet it may be best to avoid them to prevent trail damage.  Use good judgment.  If you're not sure, check with the park ranger.

 

After Race Bike Clean Up

Clean your bike as soon as possible after the race.  Bringing a spare gallon of water and soft brush (like a dust pan brush) should workout perfect to get the majority of the debris off your bike.  Be careful not to spray water directly into any part of your bike that has a bearing (bottom bracket, steering tube, hubs) or your fork.  Water can damage bearings (even sealed ones).  Lastly, be sure to lubricate your bike directly after cleaning it.mud cleanup

Have fun!

 

 

Racing outside of your comfort zone.

Athletes sometimes like to label themselves  as a “sprinter” or a “climber”, but these labels can also be limiters.   Coach Trina talks about the benefits of racing out of your comfort zone, and what she has learned from personal experience. 

Racing outside of your comfort zone, by Trina Jacobson

1235926_10151915562758436_1019062481_n

Why do races that don’t play to your strengths? The short answer is that it challenges you both mentally and physically.

To enter an event that doesn’t play to your strengths takes some self evaluation:

-    Can I physically do this?

-    What is a realistic goal for this race?

-    What do I need to do differently for this race compared to others?

And the answers to the above questions begin the mental challenge of knowing you’ll perform to your abilities, skills, and fitness not to your hopes and dreams. Managing these expectations with regards to THIS event, prepares you for expectation management in events you are already strong in.

For example, when I line up at a local criterium, there is a fair amount of confidence in my abilities to perform well based on past performance. This is my strength, and I've done so many of them that the fear of the unknown is gone, because I’ve done most everything you can do in a crit: blown up and spit out the back, lapped multiple times, helped teammates win, won with the help of teammates, won without teammates, etc.

A road race with any kind of sustained climb does not play to my strength, however I have entered a few road races. Could I physically do this? Yes, I could physically ride the distance and elevation. I may not be doing it with the rest of the field, but I could do it. What is a realistic goal for this race? 1) stay with the group for a long as possible/longer than the last time and 2) help my teammates when I’m able to. What do I need to do differently for this race compared to others? 1) train a little differently, race a little differently and 2) eat a lot.

After completing what would become my best ever effort in a road race, I was completely spent and it took me days to recover physically. This is what I learned and how my crit racing has improved:

-    I had never gone as hard for as long as I did that day —> no excuses to skip out on an interval on a training ride (as long as you aren’t harming yourself).

-    I actually emptied the tank —> I have never emptied the tank in a crit, but now that I know what it feels like, let’s do it.

-    I am a good teammate —> I have a deeper appreciation for my teammates that work for me in a race, which helps with the race-time communication.

-    I was stressed before the race because I didn't know how it would go —> I managed my stress successfully and I can use that skill at any race (or life event).

All of these things can be summed up by: My cycling as a whole is richer. My skills, experiences, and connections were deepened and strengthened. I have new and better appreciation for the local crits and have challenged myself further by taking it to the next level of a few races on the national level.

These lesson apply to racers as well as non racers,  Pushing outside of your comfort zone can also help the gran fondo rider or the weekend warrior who goes to the local group rides.   Try some rides that push you both mentally and physically and reap the rewards.

Effective Mountain Bike Climbing – Part 1 of 3, The Seated Climb by Coach Richard LaChina

The Seated Climb

The seated climb is used on moderate grade, steady climb with limited technical features like loose rocks, roots, mud and sand.  The secret to the seated climb is to deliver controlled, steady, consistent power to your rear wheel while maintaining proper weight distribution.

howtoclimb1 howtoclimb2

Proper Weight Distribution

Having your tires weighted evenly is the key — here’s how:

  • Lean your torso forward as you move your rear end back.
  • Bend at the hips.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them flexible.
  • Keep your head up.

This lowers your center of gravity and distributes your weight evenly across the bike. How far you have to lean forward is determined by the angle of the slope and the traction available on the trail. The looser the dirt and the steeper the trail, the closer to parallel your torso will be to your top tube.

Though it’s awkward, you can have your chin right above your handlebar, your back flat and your rear end sticking up in the air. It’s comical, but effective. Learning how far to slide back and how much to lean forward is where the finesse of hill climbing enters. And that takes practice. With time you’ll find how simple, subtle variations in forward-and-back movements can help get you over obstacles and up big hills.

 

Practice: Find a good stretch of trail with varying conditions and hills. Find a low gear (but not too low) that will allow you to pedal up the hills. Experiment. Move just your weight back without leaning forward. Now lean forward. Try this on various trail conditions and varying slopes.

 

Gear Selection

When you approach a hill, the gut reaction is to click into the lowest gear and attack the slope. This doesn’t work. It’s like spinning your car’s tires on ice. You’ll only upset your balance and cause your tire to slip. Instead, go into a gear that’s just low enough (this will take practice to learn what gear to use) so that you’re neither spinning out of control nor having to stand on the pedals to crank them forward. An ideal cadence will be 70-80 RPM.  Keep your cadence steady and smooth.

As you approach the hill, the tendency is to shift before you actually start climbing the hill. For a beginner this is the best approach. But as you learn to move your weight fore and aft to maintain balance and traction, you can modify your shifting to maintain speed.

Once you feel more comfortable climbing, maintain your cadence on your current gear until you feel like you’re about to have to lift out of the saddle to continue pedaling. At this point, shift into a lower gear. This will help you maintain your speed and make the hill seem shorter, the climb less grueling

Line Selection

It also helps to pick a good line before you go up the hill. A beginning cyclist has the tendency to pick a line that avoids the most obstacles. Seems logical, but this isn’t always the best route. Turning the handlebar to steer around an obstacle can upset your balance more than just going over the obstacle.

 

Of course, you’ll have to learn which obstacles you can power over and which are best avoided. Obviously big rocks and large, wet roots will stop any advance and are best circumvented. But you can generally power through the small stuff.

As you ride along a trail, your eyes should constantly scan the trail. Move your line of sight from in front of your tire to about 15 feet up the trail, then back. Look for large rocks, roots, sand—anything that can easily stop your forward motion. You’ll see the general lay of the land and obvious paths where your bike can and can’t go. As you become more experienced, your eyes will spot paths that most people think mountain goats couldn’t conquer.

And like all mountain bike skills… practice, practice, practice.  Enjoy!

Trina's first track experience.

Coach Trina talks about her first experience on the track.   She has since embraced it and has made track cycling a big part of her racing and training program. Getting On the Track

 I  started my cycling hobby on the road and it took me several years to get on the track. I preferred to kit up and ride from my house. I was too lazy to pack the car and drive somewhere to ride what had just been packed in the car. So, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got on the track. My friend Alison offered to help me find a track bike and pick me up for weekly coached workouts, plus I needed to see what this track racing business was all about…I was getting schooled at almost all the crits by a local phenom half my age who is now a World Champion on the track. You might have heard of her: Jennifer Valente. 

At the first workout, listening to Alison and  the other track riders  talk was like listening to a foreign language and I felt overwhelmed, so I asked a lot of questions. They were answered with motor pacing. YEEEEE-HAAAAWWWWWW!!!!! I couldn’t’t sleep for hours after getting home that night because my heart was still racing from both the effort and the excitement!  Why did I wait so long to try this?!

After several weeks of workouts, it was time to go to TNR (Tuesday Night Racing). For a minimal fee, I was able race in 3 races, watch other categories race, have an announcer, and an audience that actually CHEERS! This sounded super fun (and productive) to me!

I was told to race with the B group based on my road experience. ( Mixed men and women, but a women's only category is  once a month)  So, after stressing about which cog to warm-up on I lined up at the rail and off we went. Warm-up was like a well-rehearsed circus act with 3 groups of riders (A’s, B’s, C’s) all riding single file on the blue line. What a sight to see as the sun was setting!

It took me a few weeks to be able to finish with the group, but that didn’t matter because I felt as if I were FLYING! My crit racing was benefiting from the track time, my love of the sport of cycling had deepened by trying another form, and I was making new friends, even though they were freaking me out with all the talk about The Black Curtain.

 

With a couple of seasons in my legs, I can ride toward the front of the group, bridge to breaks, time my efforts, and move around the track with ease compared to a year ago. When some of the A’s crash the party in the B’s, I get my  but kicked. That’s ok; my goals just need to be adjusted for the night.

The Lessons

 1.     Help and encourage your friends. I am so thankful to have a friend like Alison. She made taking the first few laps around the track less scary.

2.     Find out what the cream of the crop does. If you want to join them on the podium (or match their run time or land a similar job), you have to know what they know.

3.     Give it time. New things always feel awkward and unnatural. After several sessions of practicing your new skill, you will be more comfortable.

4.     Create intermediate goals. I haven’t won a race at TNR yet.  Along the way to a win, I have small goals, like staying in longer, moving up faster, and holding my down my food.  The good thing about our local track racing scene, is that you usually get at least 3 races a night.  So if you mess up the first  one, you get a change to try again!

5.     Track racing is tons of fun, and it is great training for road and crit racing.   It is tough to simulate that kind of intensity outside of a race, and track cycling  fits the bill.

Ready to try the track?   Crank Cycling coaches teach the developmental classes at the San Diego Velodrome, you can even borrow a track bike