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Friday, May 30, 2008

Technical Riding -- Momentum is your Friend

video video
The above videos were taken at Bromont a few weeks ago when pre-riding the course at Bromont, Quebec for the Canada Cup. This little rock bed was a little tricky to pop up onto and hold the proper line to exit properly out and carry on down the single track.

If you notice in the first video when Charlotte first enters the rocks, you will see her pause her pedal stroke a few times while on the rocks. This pause in the pedal stroke allows the momentum gained before entering to be lost and Charlotte to have to clip out and dismount.

In the other video after a few practice runs, Charlotte is now riding the line as smoothly and quickly as Elite rider Peter Glassford. It almost looks like a different section she is doing so well.

Momentum is key in many technical sections in allowing us to be able through or over the obstacles. Often we are coming to obstacles with some speed are able to get into ready position and coast over the obstacle and start to pedal again on the other side.

When you have very little or no momentum entering technical sections it is absolutely important that we continue to pedal the entire time to create your own momentum and keep yourself moving forward and keep your balance.

Many times in these situations it is half a pedal stroke that will get us through an obstacle but we clip out and dab...So remember to really try and keep pedaling at all times to help keep your bicycle moving forward...

And like many of my riders do...listen for that annoying little voice in your head...pedal pedal pedal :)

So find an obstacle that has always given you a little trouble and just see if you can get over or through it with a little help from yourself...and of course smooth consistent pedal stroke.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sample from New Downloadable Training Plan - Available May 28

Dropping a quick line, as there are a few fun posts on the way featuring some video of our athletes working on some off-road technique in Bromont, but just taking some time to polish it up.

Below is a sample week from our New '3 Months till Your Goal Event ' Training Plan. It will be available May 28 for download from our website. Pricing will be very attractive and the first block of plans will be discounted and include several extras. So please watch http://www.steveneal.ca for the release of this affordable new coaching level. Until then feel free to use this week to guide you towards a big race this weekend or as a great lead in to the 1st block in our 3 month plan.

Race Preparation Period – Week 4 Start Monday _____ _______ 20___


Workout Description

Duration (hr)


Off day – light stretches, active flex, easy spin or walk



End – Cadence > 90RPM



End -

WU: Complete 5x1min High Cadence (cadence 110+ shift to easier gear to keep hr below 80%, 3min recoveries comfortable cadence.

Main WO:

- 3x3min Max Hill Reps

- Follow last interval with 15min Tempo Intervals (80-83%)

- Recover for 3min between



End. – include 6x10sec max efforts w/at least 3min b/w (alternate seated and standing each interval)



Off / recovery day



* Note if racing sunday do 1hr End. w/ 4x45sec Race pace efforts - Do not do tempo


End- WU - 15min building to zone

Main WO: 4x10min Tempo Intervals

Recover for 3min between



End. – Ideally on road, flat terrain below 80%, cadence 80+

(or if race today do limit Sat to 1hr endurance with 4x45sec 'race pace efforts' & race today)


Total Hours ->


** WU = Warmup END=Endurance (65-75%MHR), Tempo = 80-83%,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Learning from Your Race - The Post Race Analysis

Now that the racing season is ramping up for many of us a good practice to get into, if you haven't already, is the keeping of a 'racing log' where you can record some thoughts/goals/preparation information before your event and then reflect on the positives (there are always a few) and negatives of your event. Finding positives can be tough if an event doesn't go as you hoped but consider things like finishing, nutrition, pacing, staying positive, learning something for next race. Negatives should not be an attack on self but rather focus on things that you can control and change to make your next race better such as pacing off the start, physical limiters, poor nutritional choices, dwelling on mistakes etc.)

This practice makes you think about mistakes you may have made, nutritional, pacing, tactical or otherwise and hopefully work on the limiters they reflect prior to your next competition. Think about the Pre/Post analysis that goes into Pro sports like football and Hockey and how this benefits the players and teams involved. As you get used to this process you could even start including video and picture analysis to further enhance the benefits of this practice.

The Pre / Post Race report need not be a novel but should be personalized to your learning and attentional preferences and carried out with complete focus and intent to get benefit from the practice.

Potential PRE - Race Questions/Planning

1) What are your process goals for the race (ie. finish whole bottle each lap, stay below a %mhr on first few laps/off start, ride a certain section every lap, stay in top 10 off start etc.)

2) List your schedule to reduce anxiety and stress the morning of the race (I do a 'by the hour' agenda of what I will be doing right from when I wake up. This will vary with your learning style). I like to also plan my meals (timing/content) here.

3) List anything obstacles you could meet or anticipate and how you can deal with them. Are they controllable ? What will you do if something comes up? (busy week, lack of training, flats due to rocky course, bad weather, not liking course etc.) This practice helps you eliminate doubt and be prepared to effectively deal with challenges as they occur.


Potential POST - Race Questions

1) What was your placing / Percent of Leader.
We use Percent of leader as different courses will have different time gaps based on the length of the race ... most races provide this but if not simply dividing your time by the leader's time x 100 gets your % off.

2) Were you able to achieve your process goals (why/why not?)

3) Did you feel limited in a specific area today (steep or long climbs/ flats / technically, start, cornering etc.)

4) How was your nutrition prior to the race? What would you change anything for your pre race meals (or night before) and during the race?

5) How was your pacing? Did it maximize you result or accomplish your goals? How can you better gauge your effort next race?

6) Other considerations such as sleep, stress, lifestyle influences are great to include if relevant. It is worth assessing any factor you think has an effect on your performance and deciding if there are controllable aspects to it or if it is just part of your race and something you must accept/work with.


Take the 20-30min for these two sessions before most, if not all, races and even key workouts and you will quickly find commonalities in mistakes and weaknesses that you can address to continue to maximize the fitness gains you make in your training. Remember the assessment itself should evolve over time to include things that you find useful and that help you get the most out of this session.

Enjoy and keep us posted on your findings via comments

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cadet Training Camp

I was fortunate enough this past weekend to spend the weekend with an enthusiastic group of Ontario's finest Cadet Racers (15-16years old). This is a very interesting age for athletes as you see a range of abilities and strengths as training experience, body development and attitude are all variable and in a state of change.

On Saturday I found myself being towed around Simcoe county on a 3hr tour of some great county forest and realized that I was actually having to push pretty hard to keep myself from getting dropped (and hopelessly lost!). Despite an unrelenting downpour in the last half of the ride the young athletes continued to pedal enthusiastically and maintain big smiles (many without the rain coat or arm/leg warmers I was glad to have). It was great to see so many limits pushed and such positivity in what had turned into a pretty epic ride.

That night the kids were treated to a guest speaker (Ontario Pro Andrew Watson) and despite some heavy legs and eyelids the kids soaked up all he had to say. Their thirst for knowledge and skill development was unbelievable. The next day they were right back at it, trying out some different intervals, learning to dismount and handle single track better and even experiencing a compu-trainer based ramp test.

My reason for sharing my weekend's experience is that the weekend exposed, for me, how attitude and a willingness/openness to learn can really determine how a given workout or situation will go. As I swept (hung on to the back of the pack !) during the 3hr epic and rode alongside riders of all abilities I thought about how I could approach each ride with a more positive attitude, how maybe I could push a little harder/longer when things get tough or the weather gets bad, and how no matter that there is always more to learn, perspectives to gain and brains to be picked. Consider adding a group ride with a bunch of young athletes to your training, the enthusiasm and perspective you will come away with may just provide an unexpected change in your workouts and in your daily life. You may also be surprised how fast they can actually ride!

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