bicycle racing

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.

What Is VAM?

What is VAM? Cyclists, even riders that don’t necessarily consider themselves climbers, almost always love a good hill. The other things that cyclists love are gear and data. As power meters and GPS units have become cheaper and more ubiquitous, a typical cyclist has more data available to them than ever. This article will discuss one particular metric that can be measured using a GPS: VAM VAM was a term first popularized by Italian cycling trainer Michele Ferrari. VAM is the Italian acronym for “ velocità ascensionale media” which basically translates as “average ascent speed” . Just think of VAM as vertical meters climbed per hour. VAM is typically measured in meters per hour ( M/H), but you could theoretically use feet per hour as well. What makes this metric so useful is the fact that when climbing, most of the power the cyclist applies to the pedals goes to pushing the cyclist upwards, rather than forwards. So VAM can be used as a proxy for power to weight, as well as to compare performance on say an 8% grade, to that of a 10% grade. If an athlete is climbing at a VAM of 100 (M/H), it will take the athlete 1 hour to get to the top of an 8%, 10% , or even a 15% climb of 1000M . The VAM metric can therefore be used to compare different climbs to each other. You can tell if a performance is a good one or a bad one based on the VAM you achieved on the climb In the absence of a power meter, VAM can be an excellent way to gauge an effort, or even a great tool to build a workout. For example: If a rider has a powermeter, I might have him do a 20 minute time trial, and then take 95% of his average power as his threshold power. If the riders doesn’t have a powermeter, I can have him do a 20 minute hill, and record the VAM. If he does a VAM of 1000, I can assume that at threshold power, he climbs at 95% of 1000, or 950 M/H! So if I want this athlete to do 4 X 10 minute intervals at threshold power but he doesn’t have a power meter, I can tell him to do 4 X10 minute hill shooting for an average VAM of 950! There are plenty of online tools out there such as Garmin Connect and Strava that allow you to upload your rides, and look at your VAM along with other metrics., and most GPS computers will allow you to view your VAM as you ride. So there you go: VAM is a great tool to compare climbs of with similar vertical ascent, and can also be used as an inexpensive alternative to a powermeter.

Top 10 Fitness Myths from Outside Magzine

The January issue of  Outside Magazine  has a list of the " 10 Biggest Fitness Myths".      I don't know how they go about calculating the "biggest", but seeing as how popular magazines frequently get these messages so wrong, or the advice in their lists is just plan silly.  I think Outside did a good job with most of these, so I am going to address a few of them here: Myth #1: Stretching prevents injuries and improves performance.

This is absolutely true.  The evidence has been piling up for over 10 years.     No matter what your  gym teacher or personal trainer says, stretching does not prevent injuries.    It is a well established fact that stretching   BEFORE exercise inhibits maximal voluntary contraction (  strength and power), and there is a growing body of evidence that it may inhibit maximal aerobic work  as well.     I am not saying here that a warm up does not have its place, or that stretching is not useful in some circumstances.  But   stretching does not prevent injury, and pre- event stretching can definitely hurt  performance.

Myth #2: Running barefoot is better for the body. 

I am a cycling coach  so this isn't really my area of expertise, and I usually only run if someone is chasing me.  Myth #3: You need to focus on your core to become a better athlete.

I couldn't agree more.   I am  just plain tired of hearing about how important the core is.   A few years ago, there was a guy buying adverts on Velonews  suggesting that the best way to  improve your climbing was to improve your core strength, and I saw  recent   blog post from a coach that suggested that core muscles are more important than your leg muscles.  All of your muscles are important!       But  you don't pedal with  your abdominals or your obliques.  Otherwise all those women   that spend hours in pilates classes would be crushing it on the bike.   You pedal with the muscles in your legs and your butt.  Period.   I am not saying that doing a little core work  is useless.  These workouts have their place.   But the importance of a strong core in cycling and many other sports has been grossly overstated.      You can only train so many hours a week, and you get  faster on your bike by riding your bike, not by doing crunches.

Myth #4: Guzzling water and electrolytes before a race prevents cramps.

Also true.   You need to be properly hydrated  and you need to take in electrolytes for many reasons, but  hyperhydration and taking  in large amounts electrolytes isn't going to stop your cramps.     Find a cure for cramps that really works and I promise you you'll be famous though.

Myth #5: Popping ibuprofen before a hard workout prevents sore muscles afterward.

So many people do this, and it is absolutely the wrong thing to do.     Not only do ibuprofen and  others NSAIDS fail to reduce post exercise  muscle soreness  Inflammation  an important part of the muscle's repair process.  That means that  inflammation  is required to recover from training.    You are hurting your recovery by taking those things.      NSAIDS do have their place,  but don't pop them willy nilly.   Save them for when you have a specific  pain or inflammation issue that needs to be addressed.

Myth #6: Dehydration hurts race performance.

Outside magazine is wrong here.  WTF are they thinking.  Maybe they only had 9, but wanted to finish off their list.  Dehydration will make you slower, and can be dangerous.   Simple as that.

Myth #7: Ice baths speed recovery.

I'm not sure on this one.  I personally thing the jury may still be out.

Myth #8: Long and slow is the best way to burn calories.

True.  Ride harder and you burn more calories.  That isn't hard to figure out.    The only caveat here,  is that if you do a  really exhausting 1 hour ride, you may not be able to burn as many calories as if you  do a 4 hour easier ride. Myth #9: Fructose is a performance killer.

Fructose is a sugar that is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.  It is a great fuel for exercise, and for post exercise recovery.   Too much of it, like any carbohydrate will make you fat.   So   use some common sense here.   But if your sports drink  has some fructose, even HFCS in it.   You are probably getting exactly what you need.

Myth #10: Supplements take performance to the next level.

Most supplements are a waste of time.     I hear people say things like  " well, I started taking such and such, and I got much fitter".     I am willing to bet that the same time you started taking that supplement was the same time you started training harder.    It was the training.      I don't care if your local hero takes a  particular supplement either.   Just because " Joe Fast Guy" takes it doesn't mean that it improves performance.    He would probably be just as fast without it.     That being said, there are a few things out there that are helpful.   The number one being a simple carb/electrolyte sports drink!


Thats my 2 cents.  You can find the list along with Outside Magazines comments here: 10 Biggest Fitness Myths

Retul bike fit part 2

The  Retul Fit Part  -2  Part one can be found HERE. When I  arrived at Studeo DNA’s   fit studio in Carlsbad, Chris was just finishing up with another rider, so I got into my cycling kit and had a seat.  The first thing  Chris had me do was walk back  and forth across the room in bare feet while Chris watched to look for signs of excessive eversion/inversion ( toes out or toes in)  as well as excessive pronation or supination ( inward or outward rolling of the heel).   The idea here is that someone will walk with a gait that is natural for them and that this foot position may need to be replicated on the bike.   This is where cleat shims and similar tool are often utilized.  My walking position was generally neutral, so that made this part relatively simple.

The next step was to run me through a few strength and flexibility tests to ascertain how these things may affect my bike fit.     I never thought of myself as particularly flexible,  nor do I have 6 pack abs, but I was rated as “ high” to “medium” on all flexibility metrics and “high” on the core strength test.    Next, Chris verified that my cleats were evenly placed on my shoes, and he put me on  the bike on a trainer that was on a level platform.   While on the bike, Chris checked the cleat placement to ensure that the balls of my feet where at the center of the pedal axles.   Once that was done, he began placing small Velcro dots on anatomical points on my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, arms and hands.   This was done on both the right side, as the motion capture measures both sides of your body.   The proper placement of these dots is important, as all measurements are taken from the points.    Once the dots where properly placed Chris attached the  Retul Motion capture sensors  to the  Velcro dots, and  turned on the motion capture camera.  He then had me pedal at my own preferred cadence at an easy, moderate and “ a little bit hard” effort level using  an electronically controlled trainer  that allowed him to control the watts.  While I  pedaled, the motion capture camera took data samples for 15 seconds at each effort level, and this was repeated for both the left and right sides.    It is important to   take data samples at  these different effort levels, as you may well pedal differently when you are noodling along the coast vs when you are getting on the pedals hard during a race or other hard effort.

When the data capture was done, we looked at many different joint angles,   at different points in space, and how they changed while I pedaled.    The 3 aperture setup of the Retul system allows the the  system to measure your movement in 3 dimensions.  So while the camera is on one side, it measure not only up and down, left and right, but  backwards and forwards as well.    All of these angles are then compared to a set of norms developed by  Retul after measuring many, many riders.   My   angles position, and movements   were all well within the norms given by  Retul,  but we did notice that one my right side that  my knee was moving a  tiny bit more forward of the pedal spindle than what was expected.    In an attempt to remedy this, we moved by saddle up, by just a tiny bit (3.5mm) and forward just a bit (5mm).     Then we went through the motion capture process again, and looked at the data.  There was very little change in my joint angles or the way my knee moved forward of the pedal spindle, but neither Chris nor I found this to be much of a big deal in the first place,  and I had no pain or discomfort, so we decided to leave the bike as it was.      We finished up and I got back into my street clothes while Chris used the Retul system to take measurements on my bike, and prepared a report on my bike and my fit.

Retul isn’t really a “fit system”, I would describe it more accurately as a “dynamic position measuring system.”    The advantage of the Retul system is that it gives completely objective measurements, and catches things that they naked eye may not see.  Once the data are collected, it is up to the  fitter to use  that information to help him determine   your position and what, if anything,  should change.     Relying on an actual person to use all the information possible   is, in my opinion, the best way to go about fitting someone on the bike.   Some “fit systems” attempt to measure all of your segment lengths  and then plug it into an algorithm to tell the fitter where to put your contact points.  But  as I’ve said previously,  the experience  of the fitter,  the personal observations, and quite simply the “gut” of the fitter are just as important as anything else.     So the Retul system  does not fit you too the bike, it  gives the fitter information that can be used  to help fit you and your bike.

There was no “Eureka!” moment for me.  We made very minor changes ( 3.5 mm  is almost as minor as it can get)  that I may or may not keep.   But I  went into Studeo DNA  with no major issues,  and a comfortable bike  position that  works  well for me.    Someone that has    issues with tightness, pain, discomfort, etc,    may make more significant changes to their fit, and could potentially get much more from I bike fit than I did.     My only criticism of the whole process is that it is done one a trainer, and you simply don’t pedal the exact same way on a trainer, as you do outdoors.        Doing bike fits on a trainer is fairly standard these days though, and the stationary trainer offers a level of measurement and observation that would be very difficult to replicate when you are hammering along on your group ride.

After we finished the whole fit, and made the minor changes to my bike, Chris went about what he called “zinning” my bike.   He used the  Retul system to measure  my to precise location of my wheels, saddle, handlebars, my bike geometry and more.    These measurements were all part of the report that he gave  when we were done, and proved to be quite valuable.     A few days after  the   appointment at Studeo DNA,  a custom Kirklee   carbon fiber frame that I had  been waiting for arrived on  my doorstep.   My mechanic was able to use the information, and the precise measurements made by the Retul system to replicate all  of my contact points so that they were exactly the same as on my Time.   Chris later told me that  a some of his customers told him that  bike setup report alone was worth the trip to see him.  Another bonus is that Chris will see you again within two weeks  with no additional charge.  That way you get to try out any changes in the real world, and then come back if they aren't working for you.    A "free" return  visit is an absolutely essential part of a high end bike fit, and I would guard against working any fitter that won't follow up on his work.

If you want to check out  Studeo DNA and the Retul system yourself, Chris told me that they are having an open house this Saturday June 25th.  You can just drop in and check the place out, or you can bring you bike and gear so that they can put you on the trainer and take some measurements.  Getting those measurements will be only $25,  and you can apply that to a full bike fit if you wish.   There is an Evite HERE.  and a Facebook invitation HERE.

Below a some of the documents Studeo DNA provided me after the fit:

My Retul  Bicycle Setup Report

My Retul Bike Fit Report ( left side)

I love my PowerTap, but this is ridiculous.

I saw this story on Velonews today:   Upcoming from CycleOps: Heart-rate-based power meters and superlight carbon wheelset I am going to say this as clearly and simply as I possibly can.  There is no way to measure power using heart rate.   It just isn't possible.   Heart rate is to dynamic.  It changes due to factors such as fed state, level of fatigue, how long you have been exercising, hyrdation level and more.      Power measured via strain gauges is instantaneous,  and any effort put into the pedals can be measured right then and there, but but  heart rate may take several minutes to catch up.    So heart rate is a reasonable proxy  for effort level on long efforts, but  is practically useless for long efforts.

Like I said, I love my powertap,   I have one on my bike, and I have a studio full of powertap stationary trainers.   But don't tell us you are measuring power when you aren't.    What PT is trying to do is measure training stress using heart rate, and make it applicable across different types of exercise.   This is nothing new and it can be useful.    You can read a good article on TRIMP HERE.    But there is absolutely  no no way that TRIMP equals power measurement.


Retul Bike at by Studeo DNA - Part 1

I had a Retul bike fit done with Chris Bennet at Studeo DNA in Carlsbad last month, this is Part 1 of a 2 part entry on my experience with Studeo DNA and the Retul System. I'd like to start off with my  thoughts on bike fits, and fitters in general.  A good bike fit is can be one of the most elusive parts of a cyclists training and fitness regime. Fitting an athlete and a bicycle is equal parts science, rider feedback, personal experience, black magic and voodoo. I've always been skeptical of expensive bike fits that use lasers, smoke machines, and other fancy equipment. After all, the most important part of a quality bike fit is the fitter himself. You often see shop mechanics doing bicycle fits, but this never made much sense to me. I don't go to TP Automotive for my shoulder pain, so why would I go to a bike mechanic to help me with a bike fit. Even a week at some bike fit school, and a certificate on the wall doesn't necessarily impress me. I'm not saying that all bicycle mechanics are bad bike fitters, I've met many excellent fitters who also know how to turn a wrench. My point is that working in a bike shop does not necessarily qualify someone to do a good bike fit. In my opinion, the most important aspects of a bike fitter are( in no particular order) are:

1) Experience on the bike: A good bike fitter should have logged literally thousands of hours on the bike. This means that they have several years of experience riding bikes themselves, and simply know what it means to pedal a bike for mile after mile, hour after hour... and how to pedal a bike hard. Their understanding of how a bike and a rider fit together needs to be more than academic, it needs to be experiential.

2) Experience watching others: Ok, this mostly comes with logging the miles themselves. But spending all those hours riding with others riders allows a good bike fitter to instantly sense when something isn't right, to recognize the "suplesse" of a a bike and a rider working in perfect harmony, and to try and help you replicate that yourself.

3) An understanding of biomechanics and physiology: A good bike fitter has to have a fundamental understanding of how our muscles and bones work together to put the power to the pedals. This is where some good old fashioned book learning comes in. Fitters can be self taught, take college classes, go to weekend or week long bike fit classes, or combination of these things to learn and understand the biomechanics of pedaling a bike.  A good background in biomechaincs  allows an experienced fitter understand how parts of the body are related, and adjusting one part effects the rest.

4) Experience doing actual bike fits: Practice makes perfect.   That is not to say that all new bike fitters give poor bike fits,  simply that experience counts.

Each of these things is equally important and helps a bike fitter make you more comfortable, faster, and injury free on your bike. What you sometimes find in a bike shop employee is someone who has some background and understanding of biomchanics because they went to a "fit school", yet I assure you that all of these things cannot be learned in a weekend. Many bike shop employees loves bikes, and love to ride them but don't get all that , much saddle time. If a fitter has not had long hours riding the bike and watching others, a good understanding of biomechanics, and actual experience doing bike fits, then approach with caution.*

Studeo DNA in Carlsbad specializes in doing bike fits only.     Chris is an experienced masters racer, with many miles on under his belt, and one look at Chris clues you in to the the fact that he is a former bodybuilder.   As a bodybuiler and cyclists, Chris  has spent  years   studying and absorbing information about the human body and biomehanics and is as well versed  as anyone how all of those muscles, bones,  ligaments and joints work together.    Chris would be using the Retul Fit System to  help examine my current bike fit, and  possibly recommend any changes in my bike fit.   People usually get a bike fit because they are either new to cycling, have pain or discomfort, or simply want to find a more aerodynamic or  improved biomechanical position.     I had no particular reason to change or  alter my current fit, but I figured I would see what these guys have to offer.

Coming next...the actual fit process:

* I don't want to seem as if I am bashing bike shop employees here, I'm just trying to drive home the point that being a good mechanic  and  being a good bike fitter are not the same thing!   I have also seen non bike shop  bike fitters that posses all of the attributes I've mentioned, at yet still give terrible bike fits!

New Warm Ups Posted for Road, Mountain, Cross, and Track

A warm up is an important part of your race preparations.   It  is rather silly to  train for countless hours,  travel to a race, and payg entry fees if  you aren't  going to be properly warmed up. A  proper warm up may not necessarily  win  you the race, but it can definitely lead to a sub-optimal performance and can lose you the race.   We have posted  warm ups for road racing, cyclocross racing, crit racing, time trialing, track racing, and mountain bike racing.    These warm ups are not set in stone, and you may have to experiment a little bit to find out what works best  for you.    If you haven't been doing a structured warm up, or are looking for something new, consider them a starting point.   If you like them, stick with them,  but  feel free to experiment a little.     You'll more find  information   links to all of our warm up  protocols here.

Hone Your Handling Skills

In order to hone your cycling skills it is important to practice them in a controlled environment. This means you should practice riding fast, cornering, and riding in groups. Creating a controlled environment is the hardest part of practicing these skills. To do so you need a safe place to ride and at least one experienced rider who has mastered all of the skills being practiced. Crank Cycling Coaches can help you do this.

Do you want to cruise through the field of riders and find the sweet spot in the peloton? Do you want to slide into the draft and reap the benefits of others' hard work? Would you like to glide through corners at high speeds, not hitting your brakes and not having to over-analyze the word Apex on google search for hours? Do you want to make it over, through, and around obstacles and hazards without worry?

Would you like to keep up on the local club ride without being afraid of riders coming too close to you, or the constant thought of being dropped and not able to catch up at the regroup spot?

All of these things can be accomplished and your mind can be set at ease with some classroom instruction and on-the-bike practice. Come to Crank Cycling's bike-handling and group riding skills clinic on April 16th, presented by Crank Cycling Coach Jesse Eisner. Jesse is a USA Cycling Certified coach and veteran racer with 2 decades worth of riding and racing experience.

See you out on the road, Coach Jesse

Link to sign up

Skills Clinic on April 16th

Crank Cycling will be holding a bike handling and group riding skill clinic on April 16th.   If you are  new to cycling or just need work on some of your riding skills such as  safely riding in traffic, over  or around hazards  such as railroad tracks, dirt, sand, and other debris,  cornering in wet and dry corners, pacelining and drafting, riding in close proximity to other riders, and more.   This clinic is intended primarily for beginner to intermediate  level riders, and  is a great way to help you finish your events   faster, safer, and upright!     You can find more information and registration here, or contact Jesse at

Red Trolley Classic

The Red Trolley Classic is on the schedule and registration is open.   Its'  the first big race weekend for people in San Diego and really all of  Southern California.  I've been involved with this race since its first year in 2003, and I really do enjoy putting on the race.   I've managed to keep the entry fees the same, even though the costs have risen by 20% over the last several years.  Ambulance cost has gone up by about $400 since the race started, USCF insurance fees have gone up by about $600, officials fees by about $200,   and San Diego City  traffic control costs have gone up by about $1500 over the last several years. ( from $300 a few years ago, to $1800 this year)  Fortunately the costs of the toilets and dumpsters, Ralph Elliot's announcing, traffic control equipment, and other costs have stayed relatively the same over the years.  Still, these increases mean that race entry fees  will go up  by a few dollars next year.    It also means that we have to  give some serious thought to the categories that we have racing.   The cash, and time outlays are quite significant, and I am putting my own money on the line.   We  already lose money all morning  by running the collegiate races, which have relatively small fees and mandated low entry fees.  We had to make the decision a few years ago to cut out the junior races, as we can't afford to lose money on those as well.   The women's field has been the smallest field over the last several years, and if the women's race does not have enough entries this year, we may have to eliminate that category as well.    It is simple  fact that  revenue needs to be generated to cover all the costs of putting on the race.  I would love to help support women's racing, but  I simply can't afford to take money out of my own pocket to make that happen.  So please women racers.... please come out to the 9th Annual Red Trolley, so that  we can have you there for the 10th! -Sean

You may want to read my post from last spring explaining:  Why it costs $10,000 to put on an industrial park crit.

Is power measurement the "End All Be All?"

I personally have been using power meters since 2002, and I love to use power meters to coach athletes. I'm kind of a science geek and I love to crunch the numbers and evaluate the data. I also love that fact that the power data can enhance or even tell a different story from what the athlete conveys. Power meters give truly objective and accurate information that can't be obtained any other way. They let us track progress more accurately than any other method, and they help us dial in an athlete's effort level to ensure an efficient use of time, as well as determine when "enough is enough." There plenty of resources out there on training with power, and there is ever more powerful software available to analyze, evaluate, and plan training. These are all powerful tools, that help athletes track and attain higher levels of fitnes, as well as help coaches communicate and track their athletes better than ever. The problem comes when athletes and coaches become too reliant on the power meter.

The training and coaching of an athlete is not just a simple recipe or formula with predetermined inputs and outputs. Every athlete is different, and every athlete's response is going to be just a little bit different. An athlete needs to be viewed as a whole organism, not just a set of power data. In fact the subjective feedback from an athlete is every bit as important as that power data. I think some athletes and coaches easily forget that. They just want to open up a book, take training plan from the book, and adjust it for the athlete's power numbers. It is easy to get caught up in all the charts, graphs, and information that today's powerful software provides, but all those charts and graphs just don't tell the whole picture. I would argue that power data in isolation can even confuse the issue. For example in riders look at their power meter data along with a chart that says they are in a Cat 1 range and get frustrated because they are still a Cat 3.

How and athlete "feels" is every bit as important as what that athlete does. In fact there are several athletes I have been training for years that don't use a a power meter, a heart rate monitor, or any piece of electronic equipment on their bikes whatsoever. We train primarily using RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), or how an effort feels, and these athlete have reached many of their goals, as well as put wins on their palmares. Power meters have their place. And if i had my way, most of my athletes would train and race on them all the time. But power meters aren't for everyone. Price, functionality, and even all of that information makes powermeters and training with power undesirable for some.

For those that don't want to train with power, RPE works just fine. I used to rely heavily on heart rate monitors for athletes without power meters, but now I've gone the other way and prefer to use just mostly RPE. Heart rate data can simply change so much from day to day, and RPE conveys both what I want from the athlete, as well as what the athlete should do much better than heart rate.

Power meters have their place and many coaches and athletes love to use them, but they are by no means a requirement for success. Coaching and training is more than just looking at power numbers, and the entire experience of the athlete needs to be taken into account. Rate of perceived exertion and how an athlete feels is just as important as power numbers, and many coached athletes are successful using nothing more than than their own perceptions and some feedback from their coach.

Use the comments section below to tell me what you think.

Winning Lots of Races

This past weekend was a solid weekend of racing with lots of wins. First off was Justin Farrar in Maryland. He entered his 2nd category 4/5 road race of the year. There were 75 riders in his field. The race was on an 8 mile circuit on slightly rolling terrain with 2 steep power climbs. After lap 3 a 5-man break got away for 2 laps. Justin's teammate Iain reeled the break back in on the final lap, with one mile to go. With about 300 meters to go, Justin was boxed in 12th position looking for an opening. He had to push his way through other riders in the field. By the time he hit the front , he was only chasing one other rider to the line and he took 2nd.

Good job Justin.

Justin killin it!

The UCSD Cycling Team managed to pull off two wins, three 2nd places, one 3nd place, and a smattering of top 10 finishes. The first race was the Golden Acorn Road Race on Saturday. Colin Ng (AKA Quadzilla) took 3rd followed by Ben Ostrander taking 4th in the men's C's.

The second day of racing had the mens C's and D's combined. UCSD fielded a 12-man team and was aggressive from the gun. They sent riders off the front every lap until a break of 3 finally stuck. Colin (Quadzilla) was in the break.

The break put 40 seconds into the field and if the race had another 15 minutes, they would have lapped the field. Coming out of the last corner, Colin turned on the gas and destroyed his opponents. After the race, Colin Marveled, “ I thought it was some sort of new tactic they were doing, going slow to the finish line.” Nope, Colin was just faster!

Matt McKinzie easily won the field sprint taking 4th overall and 1st in the D's followed by Jeffrey Skacel in 2nd overall.

The athletes coached by Crank Cycling dominated this past weekend. Good job guys and gals!

Coach Jesse

Qaudzilla in the Break

Matt sprinting away from the Field