DISCLAIMER: I am not a coach, a doctor, a physiologist or a pro racer. These tips come from what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced. If you don’t get the results you desired from following my advice, well that’s what you get for listening to a blogger.
Winter is here and many velodromes around the country are locking up the gates until the season starts again. This means a lot of trackies have little to do but to leave the safe little confines of the enclosed oval and ride out into the world for some off-season training.
Around this time of year, everyone starts talking about base miles this and base miles that. For some, it’s the best part of training. For others base miles are what burn you out on your cycling before the season even starts. Base miles are important for pretty much all cyclists (or athletes for that matter) because as the name implies — they build an endurance base upon which you can build other areas of fitness.
When you talk to coaches or read the training guides, some think base miles should be done all alone or all on flat terrain or even all in the small chainring. Personally, just thinking about that kind of riding makes me bored. Total yawnfest. Let’s face it, the reason we’re doing all this riding is because we enjoy it — so let’s try to make it enjoyable. There’s plenty of time to torture ourselves later in the training year.
Want to make the base miles a little bit less mundane? This is probably the easiest riding advice you will ever read…
SOLO OR GROUP?
While I love riding alone, usually it’s just more fun to ride with a friend — or a few friends. Riding base miles with a group should be fine so long as you’re able to pace yourself. Don’t get caught up in the dick-measuring races that always happen during group rides. You don’t need to be in the front. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to ride as slow as the rest of the group does. Just ride your own pace and if that means that you’ll be riding solo, then save the socializing for the regroup spots.
FAST OR SLOW?
Speaking of socializing, most base miles should be ridden at a pace where you can hold a normal conversation with whoever is riding next to you. Riding at a pace that keeps you out of breath or your teeth clenched shut really doesn’t do much for your base endurance. But that doesn’t mean you gotta ride slow. Let’s get some blood flowing through the capillaries here. It feels great to be tired at the end of every ride, exhausted even. So for those base mile rides, try to focus on how long you’re riding rather than how fast you’re riding and gauge your efforts accordingly.
FLATS OR HILLS?
A lot of trackies act like they’re allergic to hills. If you’re one of those, I hope you have fun getting all your base miles in on the Yawnsville Flats. For me, hills can be like heroin — an addictively torturous love affair. I’ve heard people say that base miles should be flat but where’s the fun in that? Like I said, we should be enjoying our base miles. While it might be a different story in a location with lots of expansive backcountry roads, here in Los Angeles things don’t even start to look nice until you’ve hit at least 1000 feet above sea level. If you want to climb, I say climb. But for base mile riding, keep your butt on the saddle.
BIG RING OR LITTLE RING?
This is the old school philosophy: the base mile training period is 1,000 miles of riding in the little ring. I also read an old training book for track cyclists (I think circa 1950) which stated that all winter base riding should be at 15 mph. Pretty hilarious. While I admittedly love things that are old school, it’s just no fun to subscribe to that mentality or anything that sounds like it. This period of training doesn’t need to be so regimented by the numbers like speed or distance. However, it’s important to keep a comfortable cadence of at least 90 rpm during base miles. This is especially helpful for us trackies because we need to be building leg speed during this period.
TIME OR DISTANCE?
Plan for and keep track of the hours, not the miles. This makes it easier to prevent burning out. When we think of miles, we tend to think of how far we can make ourselves go. When you think about it in the context of time spent in the saddle, the perspective changes to how much time you actually want to spend riding today. In regards to base miles, the worst situation to find yourself in is that you just don’t want to be in the saddle when the race season starts up again.
For more expert (and probably somewhat contradictory) advice on base training, check out Joe Friel’s blog.
Cheers to Beaver Beavs for giving me a lift and snapping some sweet photos…
Samson Hatae getting pinned. Big props to him for trying to help me out against PAA/Remax's deadly team tactics. Those PAA/Remax guys are going to have a killer track team next year.
Grey clouds loomed over our heads the entire day with only patches of sunshine poking through here and there. Made for some very comfortable temperatures out there and I’m really glad it didn’t rain.
My good friend Zachary Scott gets his race face on. He recently moved up to San Francisco but came back down to visit us and take 2nd place in the Cat 5 field.
Yours truly coming around Ryan Barrett. He’s awesomely fast. Passing him is no easy feat. I came in 2nd place which was my first podium finish in I don’t know how long. Definitely had a great time racing and won a new pair of sunglasses from Tifosi!
This could be really awesome. Although, it’s only in the “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if” planning stages right now, the Chicago Velo Campus is a concept for a world-class cycling and sports facility which would include:
- State-of-the-art indoor 250m velodrome track
- Outdoor and indoor BMX tracks
- Outdoor and indoor mountain bike tracks
- Outdoor cyclocross track
- Triathlon training center
- Wind tunnel facility
- Olympic-size swimming pool
- Running track
- Fitness center
- Coaching and educational facility
- Olympic development program
- Youth, beginner, elite and masters programs
- Community center
- Physical therapy and sports medicine center
- Sports retail
- Cycling museum
- Restaurant and cafe
- Health and juice bar
- Commuter hub
Sounds like a cyclist’s utopia. How can you help this project come to life? Buy one of those über-cool Casco Warp helmets and fifty bucks from each sale goes to the CVC. Check out more info here.
ArtCrank - San Francisco » The poster party for bike people lands in The Bay. A gallery showing of bike-themed prints inside the Chome Bags store from 7pm to 11pm.
Double Dare » Burro and Strata are teaming up to bring this alleycat in Jacksonville, Florida. Meet up at Zombie Bikes at 2pm.
Fall Classic Upgrade Races » Bicycle John’s and Team Hollywood present a day of races for Cat 3’s to Cat 5’s (and Juniors) at Encino Veodrome. There’s also a Keirin tournament. Racing starts at noon.
Hell Track 3 » A day full of fixed gear fun in Toronto. Alleycat race, footdown, tricks, sprints and an afterparty to top it all off. Meet at Bickford Park at 7:30pm.
Kersed » Alleycat race in San Jose presented by Speedy Bee’s Delivery. Starting at iMINUSD at 3pm.
Revolution » The UK’s spectator-friendly stadium-style track racing season kicks off at Manchester Velodrome. Expect all the British stars like Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Ross Edgar and Matt Crampton. Tickets are available online. Races start at 7pm.
Spooky Cross » Night time cyclocross race at Camp James Hidden Valley Park in Irvine. Oooh scary!
Stage Sprints Of Doom » Alleycat stage race in Eau Claire, WI. Pretty much everyone races to each checkpoint at the same time. Nice format! Meet at Demmeler Park at 1pm.
Tour De Fat - Los Angles » New Belgium Brewery’s celebration of the bicycle hits LA for the first time ever. Carnival style-festival with live acts and lots of fun. All starts with a parade at 10am at LA Historic Park.
Zombie Apocalypse » Alleycat race in Gainesville, Florida. Registration at 3pm at The Junkyard. Race at 4pm followd by an afterparty to the afterlife.
Chico Fixed Competition » Third annual fixed gear mega-competition in Chico with drag races, tricks, footdown and an alleycat. Meet at the parking lot between 1st and Wall at 3:30pm.
Roadrunner » Alleycat race in Florence, AL benefitting The Art Hive. Starts from Pegasus Records at 3pm.
SLO Cross » Cyclocross race up at Rancho El Chorro in San Luis Obispo. This is race #6 in the SoCal Cross Prestige Series.
The new season of Cycling Revolution starts this weekend at Manchester Velodrome. This is the UK’s premier track cycling series where all the British stars come out to compete in a stadium-style spectator-friendly spectacle.
One of the highlights of the night will be the Team Sprint showdown between England and Scotland. Jason Kenny, Matt Crampton and Danvid Daniell (pictured) will face off against Sir Chris Hoy, Ross Edgar and Chris Pritchard. This is the match-up that never happened at the Commonwealth Games.
The last Cycling Revolution meet was filmed by Sky HD in 3D, being the first cycling event ever filmed with 3D cameras. I still have never seen any of the footage. I’m hoping that we at least get to see some videos from this next meet.
Either way, the best way to see track racing is at the track. Cycling Revolution starts at 7pm this Saturday at Manchester Velodrome and tickets are available here.
Looks like it’s gonna be raining all day tomorrow over Encino Velodrome and that track surface is SLIPPERY WHEN WET! So week two of our Intro To Track Racing class will be delayed till next week. See you then.
Sean Martin over at Takeover LA has started a series spotlighting the riders of Los Angeles. Get to know the two-wheeled warriors who own the streets in this town with short interviews about their rides, their bikes and themselves. There are tons of awesome people on bikes in this city — no matter what kind of riding they are doing — and Sean gets huge props for even beginning to give them the recognition they deserve. The first Rider Profile is on Colt Van Sky and check back with TOLA for more Rider Profiles every Monday.
Ace Boogie is now writing a regular column on the Trafik Pictures blog about LA’s growing (more like blowing up!) bike culture. He’ll be hitting up everything from the social rides to the alleycats to the weekend traning rides — and of course all the riders who ride to and fro. The cycling community here has come a long way already and it just keeps on getting bigger and Ace is stepping in to document it. The first entry is just an introduction but I’m definitely looking forward to reading more next week. I love Ace and he’s got an awesome perspective on this city and on life in general so check out Mellow Mondays every Monday.