Month: November 2014

Are You Ready For Winter?

The time has come, almost irregardless of where you live in the world the weather is changing and some modification to your habits, expectations and preparations must occur. This transitional time of year–say September to December– is always a tough time of year as athletes come of the highs of final races and memories of sunny days and dry roads.  To help you in this transitional time here are a few ideas that will help us get into off-season mode.

1) Habits and Preparations

Get your clean ‘road’ bike setup for the trainer. A good trainer tire helps make the trainer feel much nicer and every year the trainer/roller technology is advancing to have a better, more road-like feel (less muscular). The more we can be prepared the day before workouts, and ideally in the weeks before resuming training after some time off, the better we will transition. Athletes should spend time easing into cross-training before the weather gets really bad (e.g. 20min run a couple mornings a week in late August/September). Being ready to cross-train gives us options to add to our indoor training, which ideally we will also set up so that we can easily get on bike and not use setup as an excuse. Similarly, having your gear for riding and cross-training setup in a clean and organized fashion makes starting each  training session much easier. Similarly, signing up for classes, such as these ones at Active Life, can help commit you to completing training. For many athletes a head-lamp and warm, ‘rain/cold proof’ coat can help make early-morning and evening workouts easier by allowing runs to be mixed in with trainer workouts or as standalone workouts. Strength Training, such as these 5 cyclo-cross movements, can be a great way to mix up your winter training too!

Setup an Amazing training environment that you can just put your leg over and spin – Every little bit helps

2) Expectations

It won’t be warm and riding outside won’t be the same as summer. Indoor riding and cross-training are a big part of off-season so we must embrace it and find things to enjoy about these activities. Many athletes embrace the time of year to watch TV series seasons, listen to new albums and/or watch movies. I have always enjoyed the chance to explore the forest without concern for trails while snowshoeing and back-country skiing. For riding outside we must not expect that our intervals will be doable, that we will be comfortable or that we will be able to have all our usual data. It can be helpful to think about outdoor winter riding as more of a cross-training activity, like skiing, so that we avoid comparing rides and data to summer rides. One of my favorite things last winter was to put on trail runners and ride my ‘beater’ MTB around town with flat pedals. I could work pretty hard but also got to work on drifting corners, bunny-hopping on flat pedals and developing pedal stroke on snowy trails. Often I will combine many activities, with very quick pre-setup transitions, to make a long workout. Something like 30min trainer/90min back-country ski/60min trainer to get 3 hour endurance day in.

Be Prepared for bike cleaning – local car washes can be a big help for condo-dwellers! 

3) Focus

XC skiing can be a huge boost to a cyclist’s training regimen 

The advantage of this time of year is that we are able to focus on several components of our performance. Even without power we can setup a reliable speed/cadence sensor and track or daily workouts fairly reliably. We can work on getting that cadence up and building our fitness with specific intervals uninhibited by traffic, weather or group rides. Cross-training and off-season training are important components of many successful athletes (avoid typical off-season mistakes) . The change in training stimulus helps keep your fitness improving by stressing your body differently (ie. skiing uses more musculature and is potentially more challenging to a cyclists cardiovascular system) . This variation in training load and type is an important, albeit often forgotten, part of periodization.

I hope this helps you get rolling with your Winter Training . Enjoy the Weather



P.S. If you are preparing for an event and looking for some training guidance Smart Athlete Training Plans might be the perfect thing for you *new event specific plans up now*

RPE Scales – What, When and How

This is a post from the Smart Athlete Newsletter – Sign up here so you don’t miss future posts

Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale used to help athletes and coaches understand how hard something feels. Attaching breathing rate and the ‘talk test’ to the RPE helps to define the levels in addition to your qualitative ‘feel’.
In the diagram below I consider endurance to be 5-6, tempo around a 7, threshold 8-9, tt 9 and sprints/hill intervals 9-10  but remember that endurance might feel like a 7 or a 4 depending on how you feel on a day. On those great days you feel like you can pedal for ever and intervals go really well you might have a lower RPE then typical range.

For the athlete they can get an idea of how hard they should be working for an interval. This might help them decide how they are feeling and how fatigued they might be OR inform them about their chosen intensity (watts or HR) and how they might need to adjust for the day or future workouts. An example would be if the prescribed (or displayed watts on garmin) are feeling quite hard for a tempo interval (e.g. RPE 10) then we might have to adjust the days wattage down to ensure we get in the prescribed interval time (ie. usually >30min of steady intervals) .

For the coach the use of an RPE scale helps them catch over-training or, again, workout intensities that are not hard enough or too hard. This adds another layer to the data and to comments.

Try including your perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10 (or 6-20) as below.  Some athletes / coaches find one system more intuitive then the other … use the one you like !

Washington Saddle, Sore and 'Training For Busy People' Talks at Rose Physical Therapy Group


This past weekend we were on the road for a few clinics and conversations.

First stop was in Washington D.C. for a very well run event at Rose Physical Therapy Group where we had been invited to talk to a group of women from the Washington Area. There was a great mix of goals ranging from riding more, commuting, first races, better group rides all the way up to IronMan racing ! I always find it cool to see how certain issues are common between goals and how different goals can have different solutions that another group might benefit from hearing. Learning to hop up on a curb might become important to a commuter who never thought of bike skills before a mtb rider mentioned it as something that changed their riding. A triathlon racer might have a saddle or short they love that changes a commuter to a regular rider when comfort is improved.

molly talking washington shaving and waxing women's only night clinic conversation
Molly lead off with her “Saddle, Sore” Conversation, which went amazing. The group did a great job contributing their experience and taking in some of the new ideas Molly has to share from her book and from other conversations. Being able to get the conversation going, infuse some ideas and let a group run(bike!) on with new comfort, performance and enjoyment is huge part of what we are aiming to do with this tour of events.


I was the ‘closer’ this week, going after Molly. I added some ideas about training and riding to the group.


There was amazing food provided (cooked even!) by the Rose PTG team and also some ‘Shake Shack’ dessert.


More talking, possibly about Snot rockets, Sweet Potatoes, training for a goal (i.e. what would you do if you only had 3 x 15min training sessions each week ? do you ever do that now?)


Amazing setup for this event … so many little finishing touches that make this a great way to spend a Saturday in D.C.


Rose Physical Therapy Group donated to the local club WABA – Washington Area Bicycle Association.

Pictured is Nelle of WABA and Clair of Rose PTG exchanging the donation and holding one of the cool signs that were made up for the event!


After the event a quick tour with Claire and Damon (Rose PTG owners)  and a super dinner in Capitol Hill capped off a great day.


=> Check out the new, instant pre-made plans level from Smart Athlete – Plans built towards goals like Leadville 100 for less

Top 5 Cyclocross Strength Exercises

Cycocross is a demanding sport because it requires a variety of full body movements off-the bike including lifting and rotation. There are several exercises that can be included to ensure you have movement skill and capacity to perform in each race this season.

0) Bonus -> Take your bike and practice the skills on a short route that forces many (100+) skill repetitions in the ride. I remember riding around my parent’s house for an hour twice a week as cross season came so that I could get a huge number of repeats of dismounts/mounts, carries, shoulders and corners (and maybe to ruin my Dad’s grass).  This really biases the skill/agility/mobility/strength required for cyclocross. A local park trail works too, add extra dismounts with logs etc. Combo it with the exercises below and you have a really fun circuit you can do at home.

1) Alternating Bent Over Dumbell Row 

-> I love this exercise because it challenges the back/torso to remain stable against the alternating rotational forces of the dumbell row and the hanging weight . These forces are not unlike the challenge of maintaining your posture on the bike while pedaling hard and while pulling on the handlebars to sprint.

*This could be done as a ‘renegade row’ in the top of a pushup position if you find this awkward or painful.

2) Farmer’s Carry and Suitcase Carry 

-> Nothing makes a 16 pound Cyclocross bike seem extra-light after carrying 1/2 bodyweight (or more) dumbells around. Start with a Dumbell in each hand and walk out and back 10-50m. The point is more the weight being moved and less about the distance  traveled. Keep your shoulders back and torso upright. Try and make it look like the weights aren’t heavy. These carries also make airport travel much less stressful and easy to recover from. Make sure you challenge the weight you use once you are comfortable lifting the weight up to carry. Learning to handle heavier weights before you need them for other exercises makes progressing in your other lifts quicker.

3) Overhead Press

-> A classic upper body movement that will help you in shouldering and also for your remount. While not quite as specific as some of the other movements I think working on basic pushing mechanics and challenging your shoulder range of motion have many benefits beyond pushing your bike up a hill or off your shoulder.Watch that your belly stays tight and your back doesn’t compensate for limited shoulder range of motion. This can be done alternating as well for additional challenge to that stable torso.

4) Split Squat

-> Barrier hopping is often limited by hip flexion. Compare the ‘fairy hop’ method of avoiding to the hurdle step. A great way to improve hip range of motion is with split squat or lunges. If very restricted un-weighted or altered range of motion might be required. Progress range of motion or load each week.


(Images on this page from

5) Hurdles / High Steps / Step-ups of some kind 

-> to the best of your ability get coordinated. Strength training generally will help but looking into some actual ‘agility’ work would help many cyclocross riders feel more comfortable on their feet and over barriers. Add speed and height up to (and beyond) Cx barrier height. Fast and coordinated feet are your friend ! A stair set can be a great way force stepping up and timing. Skipping and learning double unders is another great way to understand how your body can move in a coordinated fashion.

Did I miss an exercise you use ? Please leave a comment

New to Cross or Want to learn more ? Check out Bike Skills and these 3 videos specific to cross

Providence Cyclocross Festival 2014 – Links, Photos, Video

Providence was perhaps the best Cylocross race I have been at in terms of organizers planning for a festival and full weekend of events. With 1200+ racers and 8000+ spectators the numbers tell the story. Exiting courses, food vendors, and beer gardens make for a super weekend of spectating .

whip providence 2014 jules roazen

I wasn’t feeling super over the weekend but managed some mid pack finishes and enjoyed the beer garden jump and a few laps with Mike Garrigan on Day 2.


=> Cross results Providence Day 2

=> Cross results Day 1 –


=> Providence Cross on Twitter

=> Providence CX race facebook page ( many links / updates ) 

=> Cx Magazine report day 1 providence 

=> Powers Blog Day 1 

=> Canadian Cycling Magazine Day 2 Report 


=> Velo news day 1 gallery 

=> Velo news day 2 Providence gallery 

=> Black and white gallery by Hawksley


=> Behind the barriers TV Day 1 Providence 

=> BHB TV Coverage Day 2 Providence