JAM-FUND Gran-Fundo (featuring Jeremy Powers)
Whistler Gran Fondo
Shimano Gran Fondo
Substance productions Eager Beaver 100
Albion Great Enduro
Albion Hills, Bolton, Ontario, Canada
Sept, 17, 2016
September has a huge need for an epic event, and Superfly Racing in conjunction with the boys at CHRONOS/GIRO are working together to keep the EPIC in September!
With a shorter, Albion-only course of 25km, AND a 40km loop including Palgrave, there is something for everyone! Add a 2-lap, 80+ km race, and you have a truly epic, 3.5 – 7 hour romp through some of the funnest – yes, funnest, trails in the GTA!
Downtown Toronto racing returns! The fine folks at the newly formed Ossington BIA have decided that their first annual street fair, OssFest, needed a bike race, so the Ossington Crit was born. There are four races throughout the day to assault your senses. Starting with two events where local racers will be competing for local glory, they’ll be followed by Elite/ProAm Women’s and Men’s race. Got any young future racers scooting around your house? Bring them by for the kids’ rally that will be held in between some of the races. The day will be full of thrills and excitement for everyone.
East Coast Open Canada Cup [DHI #2] June 26, 2016 all-day
I won a race on the weekend. This has happened a handful of times in my career, and only once before on a day with any mud (Crank the Shield 2008!).
— Hannah Lankin (@handkl) May 15, 2016
Should you train like me? It depends what your goals are. I obviously believe that we should all be able to move really well in a variety of ways–Molly and I did start a podcast on that topic–but if you are trying to be world class, you will need to focus on that disciplines key skills and not on finding swamps to run through while holding your bike. If you want to do an MTB stage race, like La Ruta or Transylvania Epic, then I would suggest working on your running, hike-a-bike, remounts and gravel road riding in addition to ‘standard’ mountain bike skills. (If you like ‘hacks’ then check out 10 ways to go faster at Leadville without training more). Being able to run, move well in a variety of ways (gym work helps) and perform in a variety of conditions is generally a good idea (and as shameless plug, the point of the Consummate Athlete Podcast…)
One of the athletes I coach and my TrekCanada team-mate, Sarah Fabbro, won the Junior Expert Women’s category. As I passed her, it was evident (to my delirious and biased mind…) that she was moving efficiently. Smooth dismount and running with her hand on the top-tube, using the bike to help keep her up on off-camber and not stressing that her tires were rubbing and/or that her chain was falling off. We had a laugh as we ran through a section together mid-race, the fun/smile is key. Run the flats/uphills and Coast/Pump the downhills. Clean the drive-train while you’re moving when long sections of pedaling arrive.
Following the example of the young riders who brave colder temps and often worse weather early in the morning
I have a rule that I don’t quit, and that I start if I register. The rule has been broken perhaps twice, three times at most. This rule of ‘the only way out is the finish line’ eliminates hesitation about the sanity or rationality of what we are doing and on days I feel like crap, it eliminates the option to quit. While I did cringe as we looked at the course before the start; thinking about what the race would cost in bike repair. We had committed to the day and so motivation to do the best I can, to see how my training experiments are going, is high. Eliminate hesitation, the only way out is the finish line.
I have the fortune of many years of great support from the Trek Store of Toronto/Barrie/Aurora and Trek Canada. We are a small team largely supported by “mom and dad” so while the store makes sure we have great equipment to minimize the chances of things like broken chains, flats, chain suck, etc. it is important to not use that as an excuse. I prepped my own bike, changed to bigger tires the day before a race and did a test-ride to make sure the discs didn’t rub and tires seated. I’m not sure that any of my equipment was that much different or specialized for the conditions. As I go through the results, perhaps there is something in the frame:tire clearance in the Trek vs. other brands, but I am not sure as many riders had good days for them on other brands: Liam on a dually Scott in second for Pro-Men as an example, where he (in his own words) had many new experiences on Sunday and was motivated to have another podium in his first year elite. Liam also has a cross-country running background. Even tires are debatable as many people did well with smaller/dry weather tires (e.g. Bontrager XR1).
The tires I used were Bontrager XR2 2.2 width, but I suspect a 2.0 or even classic mud tire with 1.8 and big knobs may have been tire of the day if you could find one. In a perfect, free bike world, I think a hard-tail would have been faster strictly because of less surface area for mud to grab onto and less overall bike weight.
3 Thoughts on Off-Season = BALANCE
I tend to use the term ‘Balance Period’ for the period of time between the final Competitive/Race Period and the start of ‘Base’ Period.
Without fail the biggest mistake athletes make is carrying the same injuries, illnesses, and bad habits from season to season by getting caught up in a cycle of training when they should be taking a break.
In the above video newsletter episode I talk about the following, with a relaxing babbling brook in the back ground:
1) Using the balance period as a chance to make progress on injury/illness with decreased training time and stress.
-> Get into your physio/chiro/coach and take care of that injury (often moving differently and resting is all that is needed)
-> take a break from what you normally do. Step back and make sure you are healthy .
2) Add back volume (easy riding) slowly and watch for injuries to come back … tinker and get help with position, diet, mobility, skills to help overcome and breakthrough on your ‘volume limit’.
3) Refocus your nutrition and go back to whole foods only. Drop out any supplements and junk food.
-> great time to clean up diet by focusing on quality and see some of that body fat come down, especially with improved sleep habits and reduced stress.
Fall/Off-Season is a great time to:
-> work on skills with skill sessions or strength session/Kin assessment (Book a Skill Session)
-> Get your bike fitness, bike fit and overall movement assessed (Book a Session)
-> Plan & Goal Setting for 2016 – Book a consult – Guidance & feedback for $25!
-> Start Coaching or try a training plan while you have lots of time to recover, learn, build and try new things.
Feel free to reply with Questions or ideas ! Or comment on facebook!
Today my goal was to discuss a few common stumbling blocks that coaches and athletes hit and suggest some possible ways to avoid.
1) Using ‘Race Pace’ as an intensity level .
Referring to race pace is most common in running where we can suggest that a run be done at a certain pace (e.g. 10km pace). It becomes more vague to suggest an athlete do a ‘race pace’ effort if their race is more variable (i.e. MTB or Cross). There are higher and lower intensity periods in both race types. It is perhaps better to use a HR or Wattage or RPE metric to explain whether the effort should be a steady/longer interval or a harder/short term explosive interval. The difference between a 2 x 20min interval set and a 5 x 2 interval set is fairly significant and the feelings associated with both in training are not that dissimilar from a race while executing the set.
2) Max effort, Maximal, Max out, All Out … Any reference to ‘max’
I use Max efforts fairly often in my prescription (and my own training) but as a coach I try to do some work upfront to explain that max does not mean DNF. So if we are doing 5 x 2min hill intervals then 3 x 2 min and then crying and riding home is not what is being suggested by Max. I am resistant to avoiding the use of max because I think learning to ride at ‘max sustainable’ pace is important to success in racing. Learning to ride our limits and build/maintain pace at different duration is important. Best results are found by not rushing into workouts that say ‘max’ and building pace through each individual interval and also as you appoach the end of the set. Empty the tank on the last few intervals and rarely will you be disappointed in the results.
3) Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and Feeling.
Feeling is important to develop. I find the various RPE scales frustrating as an athlete and coach. I have gone from using 6-20 scales to 1-10 scales and then refined what the 1-10 scale meant as I learnt more about it. Establishing some qualitative metric of the work you do can be helpful in tracking improvement and fatigue. Having a scale can also help you understand pacing and this whole topic of intensity and zoning.
Using the 5 x 2 min interval set again, the first 2 might be done at a 8-9/10 effort and then the last 1-2 at 10/10 effort (RPE) but the distance covered and wattage might be very similar.
4) Critical Power (CP) and Threshold (FTP)
A final common way to prescribe work is relative to a test result. FTP and Critical power are most common and can be very useful. Do your 2 x 20min sets at CP30-60 and your 5 x 2min at Cp5 or Cp6. This can help reduce the vagueness of ‘race pace’ we talked about earlier, especially when combined with RPE, Heart Rate and a general understanding that not everyday should/will be a best day of wattage.
In closing I think the biggest breakthrough I have had in my thinking is to take whatever the interval set is we are doing and assume it is best sustainable pace. With few exceptions (i.e. tempo) this makes everything very simple. If we need to ride up a hill 5x today then we will do it the fastest we can without failing to do so, we do not need to cloud this by saying ‘faster than race pace’. Further, keeping an ongoing discussion of the goal of the workout, the week and the block of training helps athlete and coach stay on the same page.
Cornering is essential to any type of cycling. We do it often and the better we can do it the faster we can go, the less work we have to do, the safer we will be and the more fun we can have. Many cyclists get caught riding their bikes like it is stuck in a trainer and so it is upright the whole ride. This creates a situation where the terrain asks the bike to move to the side (like on a berm, or corner or when standing) and the rider must slow down and turn the handle bar significantly instead of leaning the bike to carve the corner like we would on skis or in board sports. Take your cornering out to a safe area and use these drills to grasp the concept of cornering so that you can enhance the fun factor on your next ride.
Standing is one of my favorite skills to help people embrace. Yes sitting is efficient because we don’t support our body weight BUT it is not efficient on all terrains (ie. bumpy downhill or short climb or you find yourself in wrong gear or end of race sprint) AND it is not efficient if you get saddle sores or a sore back and don’t ride or finish your ride. For many athletes of all abilities they are missing the hinge at the hips (like all athletic positions), elbows out and the side to side motion of the bike under their body. The best way to practice is to do it more !
Called micro-intervals and part of Billat’s Vo2 work the 30/30 is a great workout set for several reasons. The short work periods are easy to focus and work hard through and the short recoveries allow for averages and physiological demands rivaling steady state efforts. I really like this because the ‘stochastic’ (on/off or variable) nature of these intervals can be a great simulation of mountain biking.
Billat recommended 15-30min of 30sec on / 30sec off , stopping if the 30 seconds on could not be held at vVo2 (speed/watts at vo2). Many coaches will use Cp6 wattage as a stand in for vVo2.
Coaches have taken this and used it in shorter blocks to apply the advanced principle to different athletes and abilities. E.g. 3 x 10min of 30/30 w. 5min off
2) Offroad TTs on challenging terrain
I use this all the time personally and with clients. The key is to pick challenging terrain to address limiters and situations relevant to your goal workout. I often use 3 stage, a rocky and hilly trails system. There are ups and downs, but mostly ups for up to 20min of solid work. To clean all the rocks and roots takes tremendous focus and to beat my times takes more and more fitness and skill each time I go. Using the same route also helps me build confidence and track my improvement.
3) 5 – 10 x 2-3 min ON / 2-4 min off
This range borders between traditional Anaerobic intervals and Vo2 intervals but these are quite common and relevant to the duration and RPE that we encounter in MTB racing. Whether you look at successful age groupers, pros or sets used in studies these are often close or the same to what is used. Many endurance athletes will do well to keep bumping intensity up as they get stronger and resist adding more and more repetitions. I typically rotate these ranges through, almost year round and adjust the interval/recovery duration to vary the load/focus. More reps and shorter recoveries pushes the focus towards VO2/threshold while longer recoveries and shorter work periods are more anaerobic focused.
Give these great workouts a try to spice up your routine
Short day with lots of rocks, and bumps and an extended double track beside a beautiful river. Not overly fun on the hardtail but took in the scenery then did some work on the couple gravel climbs to keep with the racers just behind me in the standings (Drew and Thomas).
Finishing up the week I had a smile on my face and some great experiences and learning in the bank.
Cool down with Jeremy Powers (who was up in my ‘chase group’ for a bit early in the stage) and Justin Lindine and then a great beef/shrimp dinner and some ‘stage 8’ fun in the evening .
If you are wondering if this event is for you. I recommend it without reservation. It is very hard but not ridiculous on any day. It is bumpy so bring your dually and best/toughest tires and be ready for some adventure. ( A full review will follow this post )
= CYCLING NEWS Stage 7: Bald Eagle Little Poe
= Also see Stage 6 video , I throw down a Flick turn at 2:15
*so happy to skid again* http://bcove.me/fplpjhpl
Today was rocky . 2 Very long ‘East Coast Rocks’ segments (very bumpy sections with challenging rock gardens) . I have been enjoying the challenge but definitely a test in controlling emotions watching the race ride away despite climbing as well (or at least close!) . That is what is so great about MTB racing is that fitness is multifaceted and skill is important, especially here on the east coast.
Scenery was tremendous and the climbs tough today, several really steep pitches that also caught my low rpm ‘love’ a bit off. Kept it moving forward and got more time on two of the closer guys too me while a youngster (Cole Oberman) has been having a great week and passed me in the standings.
= Stage 6 video , I throw down a Flick turn at 2:15
*so happy to skid again* http://bcove.me/fplpjhpl
CYCLING NEWS Stage 6: Rothrock Tussey Mountain