No but seriously folks, nothing is more validating than when someone comes up to me at a track race or training session and lets me know that they enjoy the blog. It makes it all worth it. When I started this blog seven months ago, I never expected anyone beyond my friends to actually read it so it’s shocking when someone I don’t know gives me props whether it be in real life or on one of the other blogs that I read (you know who you are).
So this is a shout out to anyone reading this: THANKS!
Now… what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
DISCLAIMER — I’m not a pro coach or even an amateur coach. If you follow my training advice but don’t see the results you were expecting, that’s because you’re taking tips from an internet blogger.
Rollers are the second best indoor training tool for a track racer (the first best being an indoor velodrome but not everyone can have one of those readily available).
Using rollers in your training will help to improve your form, strengthen your balance and smooth your cadence. There’s not much resistance offered so power workouts aren’t really in the cards. For that, get an indoor trainer… or better yet, just go outside and ride. As opposed to trainers, rollers have a lot to offer even when the weather is nice enough to ride in. For trackies, training on the rollers is a year-round thing.
In track racing, leg speed is of the essence. Obviously the bikes have only one gear which means that if you want to go faster, you need to pedal faster. The following is a simple half-hour leg speed workout that to help get your leg muscles used to firing at high speeds. It’s good to do one of these workouts once or twice a week.
This is a really easy workout, all you really need is a clock, a set of rollers and of course your bike. Running a computer is optional but it helps to keep track of your cadence if you want to know how fast you can spin. You don’t need a cadence pickup, just use a gear calculator to figure out how fast your pedals are moving. A heart rate monitor is pretty useless with this exercise. The intervals are too short to get an accurate reading. That’s why this is my favorite rollers exercise, because it’s so simple and only takes half an hour. Keep doing it once or twice a week and you will kill at Goldsprints.
[Pro Keirin racers do this workout all the time.]
Roller Sprints (aka Spin-Ups)
0:00 » 1. Warm up. Everyone is different but I usually just warm up for 5 minutes at about 100-120 rpm. It’s a tough workout but very low intensity (as far as power goes) so you can still use the first couple of spin-ups as part of the warm-up.
5:00 » 2. SPRINT! For 20 seconds pedal as fast as you can — and I really mean AS FAST AS YOU CAN. Use your legs and relax your upper body. Don’t clench on the handlebar or you’ll fall off the rollers. Concentrate on an even (fast but smooth) pedal stroke. The effort starts at the start of the twenty seconds, don’t ramp up into it.
5:20 » 3. Recover for 1 minute and 40 seconds. Slow your roll, sit up and relax. It’s good to have a bottle of water set up on a table next to the rollers. You’ll be needing it.
7:00 » 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 nine more times. It’s basically a 2-minute loop for an even twenty minutes. This is barely enough recovery time between efforts but I like it because it’s TOUGH. Of course this workout is totally modifiable. If you need more recovery time, try a 3-minute loop. If you want to make it hard on yourself, try a 3-minute loop with 30-second sprints.
25:00 » 5. Cool down for five minutes. You should be so tired at this point that even the cool-down ride is exhausting.
30:00 » 6. Done! Wipe the sweat off your bike and drink some more water — I bet your bottle is empty.
Encino Velodrome Swap Meet » Come get some stuff. Hopefully it doesn’t get rained out! Gates open at 8:30am and swap meet starts at 9am.
Fahrtwind Alleycat » Night time alleycat in Berlin with FORTY checkpoints… in the rain! Starts at 7pm.
Revolution » The big track racing spectacle at Manchester Velodrome continues its 8th season. This event will focus on endurance riders with the highlight of the night being the 3-man Madison race!
Socal Alleycat » Possibly the start of a new series of alleycat races in Southern California. The first round takes place in Riverside starting from Back To The Grind at 2pm.
Whittier Relay Race » Team alleycat race in Whittier, CA presented by the infamous Greenleaf Killers. Meet at 10am in Central Park.
Convert CX » The SoCal Cross Prestige Series continues with a cyclocross race at Lake Casitas in Ventura, CA.
Cranksgiving » Use your speed to help those in need! Thanksgiving food drive alleycats happening around the country which usually involve carrying as much food as you can. Click the link to see if there’s something happening near you.
iMINUSD 1 Year Anniversary » The first track & fixed gear boutique in San Jose celebrating one year since their opening. Alleycat on Saturday plus a trick comp on Sunday. Check it out!
“You have to be harder, tougher, develop a thicker skin and emotions have to be pushed to one side — you can’t cry.”—British Champ Victoria Pendleton on the difficulties of working in such a male-oriented environment.
Dirk Dekeyser has been a pro mechanic on the Six Day Racing circuit for over ten years. He chats about the joys and pains of working the Six Days over the years. Read the interview on PezCycling.
With his suspension for doping temporarily lifted by the Belgian Court of Appeals, Iljo Keisse will be able to race in the Ghent Six Day. Read about how excited he is to be back on the bike over at CyclingNews.
The philosophy of training proposed in The Cyclist’s Training Bible may seem unusual. I have found, however, that if it is followed, serious athletes improve. Here is my training philosophy:
"An athlete should do the least amount of the most specific training that brings continual improvement."
The idea of limiting training is a scary thought for some. Many cyclists have become so used to overtraining that it seems a normal state. These racers are no less addicted than drug users. As is the case with a drug addict, the chronically overtrained athlete is not getting any better, but still can’t convince himself or herself to change.
Read the philosophy statement again. Notice that it doesn’t say “train with the least amount of miles.” Another way of stating it might be “use your training time wisely.” For those of us with full-time jobs, spouses, children, a home to maintain and other responsibilities, using training time wisely is more than a philosophy–it’s a necessity.
To help you better understand this philosophy I’d like to explain it using the Ten Commandments of Training. By incorporating each of these guidelines into your thinking and training, you’ll be following this philosophy and getting a better return on your time invested. Your results will also improve regardless of your age or experience.
I – TRAIN MODERATELY
Your body has limits when it comes to endurance, speed and strength. Don’t try too often to find them. Instead, train within those limits most of the time. Finish most workouts feeling like you could have done more. It may mean stopping a session earlier than planned. That’s OK. Do not always try to finish exhausted.
The biggest mistake of most athletes is making their easy days too hard, so when it comes time for a hard training day, they’re unable to go hard enough. This leads to mediocre fitness and performance. The higher your fitness level, the greater the difference between the intensities of hard and easy days.
Many cyclists also think that pushing hard all the time will make them tough. They believe that willpower and strength of character can overcome nature and speed up their body’s cellular changes. Don’t try it–more hard training is seldom the answer. An organism adapts best when stresses are slightly increased. That’s why you’ve often heard the admonition to increase training volume by no more than 10 percent from week to week. Even this may be too high for some.
By progressing carefully, especially with intensity, you’ll gradually get stronger and there will be time and energy for other pursuits in life. An athlete who enjoys training will get far more benefits from it than one who is always on the edge of overtraining. When in doubt -– leave it out.
The human body thrives on routine. Develop a training pattern that stays mostly the same from week to week — regular activity brings positive change. This does not mean do the same workout every day, week after week. Variety also promotes growth. Later in this book you’ll see that there are actually slight changes being made throughout the training year. Some of the changes are seemingly minor. You may not even be aware of them, as when an extra hour is added to the training week during the basebuilding period.
Breaks in consistency usually result from not following the Moderation Commandment. Overdoing a workout or week of training is likely to cause excessive fatigue, illness, burnout or injury. Fitness is not stagnant–you’re either getting better or getting worse all the time. Frequently missing workouts mean a loss of fitness. This doesn’t mean, however, you should work out when ill. There are times when breaks are necessary.
III – GET ADEQUATE REST
It’s during rest that the body adapt to the stresses of training and grows stronger. Without rest there’s no improvement. As the stress of training increases, the need for rest also accumulates. Most cyclists pay lip service to this Commandment; they understand it intellectually, but not emotionally. It is the most widely violated guideline. You will not improve without adequate rest. Most athletes need seven to 10 hours of sleep daily. Professionals, with few other demands on their time than training, usually include naps to get their daily dose. The rest of us need to get to bed early every night. The younger you are, the more rest you need. Junior riders should be sleeping nine to 10 hours daily.
IV – TRAIN WITH A PLAN
This is fundamental to improvement in almost any endeavor of life, yet few selftrained athletes do it. Sometimes I find riders who use a sound plan from a magazine, but as soon as a new issue comes out, they abandon the old plan and take up a new one. Most people will improve if they follow a plan–any plan. It can be of poor design, yet still work. Just don’t change it.
There’s a real advantage to working out with others — sometimes. Pack riding develops handling skills, provides experience with race dynamics, and makes the time go faster. But all too often, the group will cause you to ride fast when you would be best served by a slow, easy recovery ride. At other times, you’ll need to go longer or shorter than what the group decides to ride. Group workouts too often degenerate into unstructured races at the most inopportune times.
For the winter base-building period, find a group that rides at a comfortable pace. During the spring intensity-building period, ride with a group that will challenge you to ride fast, just as when racing. Smart and structured group rides are hard to find. You may need to create your own. Stay away from big packs that take over the road and are unsafe. You want to get faster, not get killed.
Use groups when they can help you. Otherwise, avoid them.
VI – PLAN TO PEAK
Your season plan should bring you to your peak for the most important events. I call these “A” races. The “B” races are important too, but you won’t taper and peak for these, just rest for three to four days before. “C” races are tune-ups to get you ready for the A’s and B’s. A smart rider will use these low-priority races for experience, or to practice pacing, or as a time trial to gauge fitness. If all races are equal, don’t expect much.
This book will show you how to peak for “A” races two or more times in a season. Each peak may last for up to six weeks. You will still race between peaks, but the emphasis will be on re-establishing endurance, strength and speed to prepare for the next peak.
VII – IMPROVE WEAKNESSES
What do riders with great endurance, but not much speed, do the most of? You guessed it — endurance work. What do good climbers like to do? Why of course — they like to train in the hills. Most cyclists spend too much time working on what they’re already good at. What’s your weakest area? Ask your training partners if you don’t know. I’ll bet they do. Then spend more time on that area. The Cyclist’s Training Bible will help identify your weaknesses and teach you how to improve them.
Few of us trust our training when it comes time to race. There’s a great fear as the big race approaches that we haven’t done enough, so we train right up to race day. I’ve seen people the day before an important race go out for a long ride because they think it will help. It takes 10 to 21 days of reduced work load for the human body to be fully ready to race, depending on how long and hard the training has been. Cut back before the big races, and you’ll do better. Trust me.
IX – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
A few years ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I attended a talk by the former head of the East German Sports Institute. After conceding that East German athletes had indeed used illegal drugs, which he felt was a minor aspect of their remarkable success, he went on to explain what he saw as the real reason for their great number of Olympic medals. He described how elite athletes lived regulated lives in dormitories. Every morning on awakening, each athlete met with a group of experts — an event coach, a physiologist, a doctor or nurse and a sports psychologist, for example. The group checked the athlete’s readiness to train that day and made adjustments as necessary to the schedule. In effect, they were listening to what the athlete’s body was saying. The athlete trained only to the level they could tolerate that day. Nothing more. It would be nice if each of us could afford such attention. We can’t, so we must learn to listen to our bodies for ourselves. If you listen to what the body is saying, you’ll train smarter and get faster. Cyclists who train smart always beat athletes who train hard. The Cyclist’s Training Bible will teach you how to hear what your body is saying every day.
X – COMMIT TO GOALS
Talk is cheap. If you want to race farther, faster and stronger this season you need to train differently and may even need to make changes in your lifestyle. What could be holding you back? Is it too little sleep? Maybe you need to go to bed earlier. Or perhaps you eat too much carbohydrate and not enough protein. You may benefit from putting more time in the weight room in the winter to build greater force. Maybe your training partners are holding you back.
After you set your goals in a later chapter, take a look at them and determine how they relate to your lifestyle and training. Determine that if change is needed, you can do it. Only you can control how well you race. It’s time to put up.
Future Tense » Last Future Tense race of the year up in Seattle! Be at Cal Anderson Park at 6:30pm.
Velo-Dromo » Try the track event for urban riders at the Velodromo Mataro in Spain. Great session program including training and racing. Runs from 6pm to 9pm.
Bella Biciclette » A fancy showcasing of fancy bicycles in Boston. Plenty of vintage bike porn for in one cool gallery-esque setting at Superb Bicycle from 8pm to 10pm.
Chutes And Ladders » Alleycat in San Francisco to celebrate the 10th annual Bicycle Film Festival. Meet at Pushbike at 4pm.
Cranksgiving » Benefit alleycat race and food drive to fight hunger in Minneapolis. Gold Medal Park at 2pm.
Daytona Alleycat » Alleycat in Central Florida with an afterparty at Tir-Na-Nog Irish Pub. Race starts at 3pm from City Island.
GABA Bike Swap » Bicycle swap meet in Tucson, AZ. Goes from 8am to 2pm at Fourth Ave between 6th and 9th.
Long Beach Cyclocross » Cross racing action at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA. This is the eleventh race in the SoCal Cross Prestige Series.
Southern Discomfort » The grand old bicycle race of the south. Starts at Twain’s in Decatur, GA at 2pm.
Vuelta De Los Angeles » Downtown’s Finest presenting this epic alleycat race all over LA. Meet at the Five Stars Bar on 2nd and Main at 1pm.
SLO Cross » Cyclocross racing at Coast Union High School in Cambria, CA. Race #12 in the Socal Cross Prestige Series.
Tough As Nails » San Francisco alleycat for the ladies and transgendered. Meet at City Hall at noon.
Urban Cyclocross » Turkey Cross! Cyclocross race at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, CA.
USAC Upgrade Criterium » Build your race resume and get your upgrade points with this series of crit races in Carson, CA.
Bare Bones Track Race » Sprinting events all weekend at Burnaby Velodrome. Match sprints, Keirins, Chariots and more. Check it out!
Bicycle Film Festival - Athens & San Francisco » Film screenings, parties, shows, races, rides and exhibitions hit both the Bay Area and the land of Zeus this weekend. Check the schedule and keep an eye out for all the fun little side-events.
Okay a delayed start to today’s posts. Here’s the second installment of the RTBL Book Club.
The Cyclist’s Training Bible is exactly what the title implies — the ultimate guide for racers and riders looking to improve their own fitness levels, whether for competition or to meet one’s own personal goals/challenges. It’ll to help you design a comprehensive personal training program tailored to your needs. Be your own coach!
Author and world-renowned coach Joe Friel touches on the many details that a cyclist needs to pay attention to from gauging your current ability to planning your training year to scheduling your weekly and daily workouts. There are also great chapters on recovery, nutrition, weight training and staying motivated. Friel doesn’t go into great detail on any of those subjects (there are other books that specialize specifically in details like that) but that helps keep the book a quick and easy read.
The best part is that The Cyclist’s Training Bible is a guide that encourages you to set your own goals and set up your training program to work on what you need to work on. While the book was written for road/endurance cyclists, us trackies can derive a great benefit from following Friel’s training principles. The menu of workouts makes it just as easy to focus on top speed as it is to focus on endurance or power. You assume the role of coach in this book, unlike some other training books on the market which do the coaching for you.
If you can’t afford to hire a coach, I highly recommend The Training Bible to aid your training and keep you focused. Even if you have a coach, it’s still a great read to help understand things like periodization, the dangers of overtraining and the importance of proper recovery. So no matter what your goals are for the upcoming season, check out The Cyclist’s Training Bible to help you achieve them.
The latest edition of The Cyclist’s Training Bible is available at VeloGear. Joe Friel has a lot more where that comes from too. You can check out some of his other books but I definitely recommend following his blog for free training tips during the season.