Monday, December 29, 2008


Pronounced "two by twenties". So, what's so great about 2x20's? Well, if you're NOT doing these intervals you're probably NOT taking advantage of one of the best indoor/outdoor workouts for increasing Functional Threshold Power...especially if you do them at Level 4. I wouldn't recommend doing them without working up to them first. Either do 2x10s at L4 first or do the 2x20s at the Sweetspot Training Levels until you get in better shape. Here's what the profile should look like if you do them on the road. Notice that the first 20 minute interval was done just below my LTHR of 175 bpm. Also notice the Heart Rate creep...which is normal. The 2nd 20 minute interval exceeded my LTHR. Couple of things you shouldn't do..that you can see here: 1) do NOT take a 45 minute break between intervals like I did..that's WAY too much. However, to come to my defense, I stopped to grab a drink and ended up talking to a friend. And, 2) Don't let the Power on the 2nd interval drop more than 5% of the first. I was close on the second interval. BTW, if you do them inside, expect at least a 10% reduction in FTP power. Have fun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Are you "Sweet Spot" Training?

During my weekly local "Power Advantage Program" training sessions I'm preaching/advocating Sweet Spot Training Intervals. Why? Because they work. i.e. they improve cycling performance. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that most of the physiological adaptations that are responsible for improve cycling performance are centered between the L2-L4 training zones/levels. Are you "Sweet Spot" Training? If not, you should be..because this is the PERFECT time of the year to be doing them.

For more information on Sweet Spot Training, please visit Coach Frank Overton's website:

The Perfect Pedal Stroke

The Perfect Pedal Stroke
How to get the most energy from each crank revolution.
By Loren Mooney
©TopDog Illustration

Pedaling in a simple circle is a complex thing, but mastering it can save energy, says Todd Carver, biomechanist at Colorado's Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. He says that with proper ankling (shown here; not the injury-causing technique of the past), riders can churn out the same amount of power at a heart rate as many as five beats per minute lower. This stroke is for flat terrain at threshold, or time trial, intensity.Hip-Knee-Ankle Alignment Viewed from the front, your hip, knee and ankle should line up throughout the pedal stroke. "You don't want knee wobble," says Carver. "Just think pistons, straight up and down." If you can't correct this, or if you experience knee pain when you try to restrict lateral movement, you may need orthotics or another type of biomechanical adjustment.

Zone 1 Known as the power phase, the portion of the pedal stroke from 12 o'clock to about 5 o'clock is the period of greatest muscle activity. "A lot of people think hamstrings are used only on the upstroke," says Carver, "but a good cyclist uses a lot of hamstring in the downstroke, because it extends the hip." The key to accessing the large muscles in the back of your leg is dropping your heel as you come over the top of the stroke, says Carver. "At 12 o'clock, your toes should be pointed down about 20 degrees, but as you come over the top, start dropping that heel so that it's parallel to the ground or even 10 degrees past parallel by the time you get to 3 o'clock." The biggest mistake Carver sees in novice riders: not dropping the heel enough in Zone 1.

Zone 2 Using the same muscles as in the power phase, but to a lesser degree, this phase acts as a transition to the backstroke. "As you enter Zone 2, think about firing the calf muscles to point your toe," Carver says. As you come through the bottom of the stroke, the toe should be pointed down 20 degrees. "This ankling technique transfers some of the energy developed in Zone 1 by the bigger muscles to the crank," Carver says. He uses the advice popularized by Greg LeMond: "Act like you're scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe."

Zone 3 Even though you feel like you're pulling your foot through the back of the stroke, you're not. "When you look at even the best cyclists, they're losing power on the upstroke," says Carver. "The pedal is actually pushing your leg up, so the goal is to lose as little power as possible and get that foot out of the way." One fun way to improve the efficiency of your upstroke: mountain biking. "The terrain keeps you honest," Carver says. "If you're focusing only on the downstroke, you'll lose traction and fall off your bike in steep sections." As for other exercises, Carver advises against single-leg pedal drills--"for recreation-level riders, they injure more people than they help"--but recommends hamstring and glute-strengthening lifts, as well as squats, "done correctly, in a squat rack with someone showing you how."Saddle Position Proper bike fit, especially saddle height and fore-aft adjustment, is a prerequisite for a smooth pedal stroke. Without it, says Carver, you won't be even remotely as efficient as you could be. "If your saddle is too high, you're not going to be able to drive your heel effectively," he says. "If it's too low, you'll have knee pain." In the right position (knee over the ball of your foot with the pedal at 3 o'clock; knee slightly bent with the pedal at 6 o'clock), you'll maximize your energy output and also be able to adapt your ankling technique to different terrain, cadence and effort levels.

Zone 4 As you enter the second half of the upstroke phase, think about initiating your downstroke. "Many riders don't initiate early enough," says Carver, who often sees riders wait until 3 o'clock--but they should be starting before 12 o'clock. A tip: As you begin to come across the top of the stroke, think about pushing your knee forward, toward the bar. But only your knee, says Carver: "Your pelvis should remain a stable platform, not sinking down and not moving forward." As the knee comes forward, you should feel your hamstrings and glutes engage, and your hip extend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Competitive Cycling in USA Growing

Colorado Springs, Colo. (December 4, 2008)—The sport of competitive cycling in the United States continues to grow according to the latest figures released today by USA Cycling.

For the sixth consecutive year, the number of licensed competitive cyclists has risen compared to the previous year, while the number of registered clubs and event sanctions also increased. Collectively, these categories represent the popularity of bike racing in America from a participation standpoint.

At the close of the 2008 license sales season on November 30, USA Cycling listed 63,280 licensees, a 2.9% increase over last year. In similar fashion, the number of sanctioned clubs rose 1.8% as USA Cycling listed 2,155 teams among its constituents. USA Cycling also sanctioned 2,551 events, a 3.1% jump from a year ago.

The growth in membership continues a six-year trend which has seen the number of licensed racers in America increase by 48% since 2002. Over that same period of time, the number of events sanctioned by USA Cycling has risen by 50%, while affiliated clubs have grown by 30%.

Many of the sport’s insiders point to the success and popularity of American athletes in cycling’s most notable events, such as the Tour de France and the Olympic Games, as a primary factor in the sport’s recent boom. The most significant growth occurred throughout Lance Armstrong’s dominant seven-year winning streak at the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005, while success by several other Americans on the sport’s biggest stage since then has encouraged continued interest. If history is any indication, cycling is poised for similar growth in 2009 following a five-medal performance in Beijing – the most successful ever for a U.S. Cycling Team at a non-boycotted Olympic Games – as well as a return to competitive cycling and the Tour de France by Armstrong. Factor in the 13 major internationally-sanctioned professional men’s and women’s races set to take place in the U.S. next year, as well as Armstrong’s commitment to race in February’s Tour of California, and the notoriety of the sport on U.S. soil next season is sure to reach new heights.

“Once again, we’re excited to witness continued growth in the sport of cycling,” commented Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling. “The market for amateur sport in the United States is a competitive one with so many choices and opportunities available to athletes these days. That said, to experience another year of increased participation is very rewarding. Looking ahead, with the continued expansion of professional cycling opportunities both domestically and abroad, we hope and expect this growth trend to continue throughout 2009 and beyond.”

Broken down by specific disciplines and types of licenses, road, track and cyclo-cross grew by 3.2%, while mountain bike increased 1.2%. The number of professional riders in the U.S. rose 6.3% and the amount of student-athletes competing for collegiate clubs jumped 2.5%. Of all of its licensees, USA Cycling’s largest increase was in the number of licensed bike race officials, a figure that rose 17.6%.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weight Loss- Part II

I've had a bunch of people ask me what they should be eating in the off-season to lose weight. One of the things you can start doing is reducing your Carbohydrate intake, both simple and complex Carbs. As you know, Carbs are essential during long hard summer rides to prevent you from bonking..but in the off-season, when volume and intensity is really don't need as much. And, diets like the Atkins diet are testimony that reducing/eliminating Carbs in your diet will lead to weight loss.

Speaking of Atkins diets..lets talk diets. I am NOT in favor of any kind of diet..because they don't work. Let me say it again: THEY DO NOT WORK! They may work initially, but they're not something you want to adhere to for life..and definitely not for the working athlete. In fact, most people that go on diets end up losing weight initially, only to gain it all back a year or two later..and then some. Trust me..I've seen it. I am however, in favor of one diet...and it's called the ABS Diet. Wait a minute, didn't I just say I'm NOT in favor of any kind of diet? I did, but the ABS Diet is not really a's an eating plan for life. And, it has nothing to do with your Abdomen (Abs) other than, if you follow the plan you may actually discover you have Abs. I'm serious! With the ABS Diet Power eat what you like. All you have to do is include the food items/groups in the acronym: ABSDIETPOWER. A=Almonds/Nuts, B=Beans/Legumes, S=Spinich/Veggies, D=Dairy Products, I=Instant Oatmeal, E=Eggs, T=Turkey/Other Lean Meats, P=Peanut Butter, O=Olive Oil, W=Whole Grain Breads/Cereals, E=Extra-Protein Whey and R=Raspberries/Other berries. That's it, all you have to do is eat two or three of these foods in each of your three major meals and at least one of them in your snacks. If you want to read more about this plan, you can go to Border's or Barnes and Noble and pick up the book: The Abs Diet, by David Zinczenko, editor of Mens Health Magazine. You can't miss the cover, it's bright fluorescent orange. Or, you can mail order it from or buy it online: BTW, if you go to this link you'll find more information on the ABS DIET POWER eating plan.

Does this ABSDIETPOWER plan work? Absolutely, I'm testament to it. In 2004, I used this plan to help me lose 50 lbs. That's right...I went from 222 lbs. down to 172 lbs. Yup, Wubba Rob weighed 222 lbs. (Hey, before you skinny wimps start snickering I could also bench press 285 lbs. back then, something you must dream about..hahaha) But, I can't tell you this..NEVER AGAIN will I let myself get fat/overweight. Since then, I've managed to keep the weight off by sticking to the plan. Currently, I'm 179 lbs. but that's only because I gained 5 lbs. in the Fall from all of the beer/pizza and riding my bike less. (Hey, it's the off-season..give me a break) I'm going to use this plan combined with Weight Training and increased cycling volume to lose an additional 14 lbs. by February. (BTW, did you know that Weight Training is a good fat/calorie burner?) That's right, I'm going to lose 14 lbs. from now until February 4th when I head out to the Desert of Nevada to ride the hills. That's 1.5 lbs. per week. My goal weight is 165 lbs. (Last time I weighed 165 lbs. was a Senior in High School.) And, I'll be eating whatever I want to get to that goal weight..including beer and pizza..just not as much as I did this past Fall..hahaha.

Anybody want to bet me I don't get there? I will. Come Spring time I'll be looking for hills to ride because my power to weight ratio will be the best it's ever been. Remember, Power to weight ratio is your Power (watts) divided by your Weight (kg). The higher this ratio the better the hill climber you'll be. You can increase your Power to Weight Ratio by either a. Increase Power b. Lose Weight, or c. Both a and b. Now you know why all those skinny/wimpy bike riders like to take you for rides in the hills..because that's where they shine. Or, I should say, that's where they get their ego dropping heavier guys like me. You think I'm kidding? I kid you not. But, not this year..even at age 50.

So, get back in the Weight Room, follow the ABS Diet, and keep riding your bike and get in the best shape of your life. I am!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Winter Ride

It always boggled my mind when I read any cycling book, magazine, web article, etc. on Periodization of Training that said that this is the time of year to build a base for the upcoming season. And, that base building should include lots of endurance time/miles on the bike spent at low intensity. Why does it boggle my mind? Because unless you live in FLA, TX or Sunny California...Southeast PA (in Nov-Dec) is NOT where you want to ride outdoors on the road for 2-4 hrs. at a time. It's cold/wet/icy/salty/windy/low-light/etc. And, the last thing I'm going to do is hop on my indoor trainer for anything more than an hour.
But, you don't have to stay in this Winter and ride on your trainer or on the road when you can ride "off-road" outside in the fresh-air. Just dust off an old bike, put some knobby tires on it and head for a place like the canal path between Stockton and Frenchtown, NJ. I'll tell you why I like it:

a. it's slow (averaging 12-15 mph), therefore it's really not that cold.
b. you get a good workout when it's windy and when the temps are in the 40s because the ground is soft/wet and increases your rolling resistance.
c. you're off the road and don't have to worry about: traffic, salt corroding your bike, stopping for stop lights/stop sigan, dark, etc.
d. it's a good endurance ride from Stockton to Frenchtown, non-stop, just what you want for base building Winter season training.
e. you get to stop at Frenchtown and/or Stockton and have a latte/coffee and a cookie/muffin, etc.
f. safe- always somebody on the path walking, riding, running, etc.
g. can do a group or solo ride at night with a light if you want.
h. rather do two hours outside than 2 hours on a trainer.
i. get some fresh air.
j. scenery is better.

So, next time you dread getting on your trainer and riding inside this Winter for a couple hours..grab your hybrid or mountain bike and head to a place like the canal path instead...the most important thing I didn't mention (above) is ... it's fun!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weight Loss- Part I

If you're overweight, like me, and you want to lose some weight before the race season..try works! Currently, I weigh 179 lbs. and my goal weight by February 6th (when I head out to Death Valley/Mohave Desert for a week of hilly riding) is 165 lbs. That's 14 lbs. I need to lose in just over 10 weeks, or 1.4 lbs. per week. To do this, all I need to do is burn and/or eliminate 500 more calories per day (500 calories/day x 7 days=3500 calories= 1 lb.) If that sounds hard, it really isn't. Here's how to do it:

a. Determine your maximum fat-burning heart rate zone. This is going to be close to 55-65% of your maximum heart rate. Although you won’t burn maximum calories at this heart rate, you will teach your body how to utilize fat effectively without causing muscle damage or inhibiting recovery. It’s important that you be able to insert this strategy into a pre-existing workout program without having to restructure for rest and recovery.

b. Every day, immediately upon waking (when your liver’s carbohydrate stores are nearly empty) exercise for 20-30 minutes in this heart rate zone. You can do this by either running, walking fast, using an elliptical trainer, etc. (I don't recommend doing it on the bike/trainer or you're going to burn out as you should be doing plenty of cycling training indoors already). In doing so, you will maximize fat-burning enzyme activity. Do NOT skip breakfast after the workout - just ensure that the actual exercise session is performed on an empty stomach.

c. To maximize this effect even more, eliminate any eating for at least 2 hours prior to bedtime the night before. This will ensure empty liver carbohydrate stores and more efficient fat burning in the subsequent morning routine.

d. In addition to the morning exercise, knock-out or reduce intake of the following: soda, candy, ice cream, and alcohol from your daily diet. (If you need to drink, like me over the holidays, stick to wine and light beer, it has less calories than mixed/alcohol drinks. And, keep it to 1-2 drinks per day max. If you need to eat ice cream, choose a light ice cream..they really don't taste too bad..once you get used to them.)

If you do this, exercise first thing in the morning and drop the soda/candy/ice cream/booze out of your daily diet, in addition to what you've normally been doing to maintain your current weight, I guarantee you that you will drop at least a pound or two a week.

Give it at try!


Training Doesn't Stop Because the Leaves Change
By Jeb Stewart MS, CSCS

Champions and seasons are made and broken by what we do or don't do in the off-season. Too many athletes wait until the racing season is upon them to hire a coach and ask them to work miracles with their fitness, having put in a haphazard off-season at best. Even worse, many athletes fire their coach when the racing season is over and then hire them again come spring. Many coaches may not have slots available and may require that the athlete pay another start up fee for the additional work they must now do since they have not been working together continuously.

Besides, this approach is very short sighted and leads to less than optimal fitness and unattained goals come race season. What you do in the off-season determines the heights that you can reach during the next year. Those who do it correctly, meet and far exceed their goals, and those who do not end up falling short and wondering why.

Why is this? Well, the most common traps involve doing too much or too little. Doing too much can take many forms such as going too hard when they should be really working on their base fitness, doing too much or the wrong stuff in the gym, and gaining too much weight by not approaching their nutrition correctly. However, even more athletes fall into the latter of the two categories. Doing too little includes: Not taking any time off, not doing enough miles, skipping cross-training or gym work, not doing enough base work before moving up the training spectrum, not attending to goals and long-term planning and not taking this time when there are no races to attain those elusive body composition goals.

Having a coach can also help you make sure that the things you are doing are actually helping you attain your goals. I see too many athletes either skip cross-training and instead do nothing, do only gym work (often times doing the wrong stuff), employ faulty nutritional practices and gain too much weight as result. I also find that a lot of people do their base training at too low an intensity to really get the gains they are shooting for. Having a coach prescribe the correct Power or HR training zones can help you make sure are actually developing your aerobic fitness when doing this ever so important part of your training. There is nothing worse than to find out that all of those miles you did only helped slightly at best. Never mind the athlete who just goes from racing to mountain bike racing, to cyclo-cross to group rides and then wonders why they never seem to get any better. Many of these things can and should be worked into a complete conditioning program for the bike. However, if you are going to train, then we had better make sure that what you are doing is actually going to benefit you in the long run.

Many athletes want to come into form overnight and in endurance sports it just doesn't work like that unfortunately. Those who are patient and diligent in their preparation make the greatest gains. Take an athlete I am fortunate enough to work with for example. She started with me in November with her goals being in July. Her patient progress paid off in spades when she was on the podium 13 out of 14 races, won her state championships and two stage races. She was patient and believed in herself, her coach and the process. That's a perfect example of what doing things correctly can get for us.

Some of the many things your coach can help you with during the off-season include:
*Nutritional guidance and analysis
*Body composition goals
*Working cross-training into your schedule properly and effectively
*Periodized training for development in your sport of choice
*Proper strength and conditioning programming
*Yoga and flexibility training protocols
*Goal development for the upcoming season and annual planning
And much, much more.

Whether you are a recreational racer or a full-time athlete, what we do outside of our racing season is hugely important, and quite often will determine what we can achieve when the time comes to perform. So don't miss this golden opportunity to create your best season ever by working with a coach who can help you optimize the time you spend training in the off-season and make sure you are on track for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Build Power Now!

Here's a good article by Chris Carmichael. Plyometrics is a form of resistance training used to elicit power through explosive movements. I'm all for it. Here's a good workout:

Build Power, Save Time with this Double-Header Workout
By Chris Carmichael

Everyone knows the wintertime training lays the foundation for a successful summer season, but there’s still plenty of debate about the specifics – particularly when it comes to the idea of gaining power on the bike by heading into the gym to lift weights. I first heard the idea more than 30 years ago as a junior, and experts are still trying to decide if resistance training in the winter really improves cycling performance. You want to know the answer? For the vast majority of cyclists, resistance training won’t make you faster.
To make significant gains in on-bike strength and power, you need to be in the gym a minimum of three hours a week. That doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that, based on my observation of several thousand CTS-coached athletes, the average cyclist with a full-time job and a life can only squeeze out about 8-10 hours of total training time each week, if they really work at it. So why use 30 to 40 percent of that time doing something that may or may not make you faster when you know that more time on the bike will absolutely make you faster? Besides, there’s a way cyclists can effectively build explosive on-bike power without really cutting into your riding time: plyometrics.
Plyometrics are exercises that use explosive movements to bridge the gap between strength and power – and improve both. Most are jumping exercises targeted at making your muscles exert maximum force faster. Why is this more important for cyclists than pure strength? With strength you can push a big gear; with power you can push the same gear faster, which means you go faster. I also like plyometrics for cyclists because the exercises target large muscle groups, help them work together with greater synchronicity, and enhance balance and coordination – things you don’t get from traditional, muscle-isolating weight lifting.

The Double Header Workout
What I’ve found to be most effective in boosting power fast is combining a plyometrics session with high-intensity on-bike intervals in the same day. The jumps recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs, hips, and buttocks, which means they’re primed for action when you get on your bike. Try the following workout twice a week through the end of March. Do the plyos right before you get on your bike or within a few hours before your ride. Before you throw yourself right into jumping exercises, warm up with a simple 5-10 minutes of brisk walking and 2-3 trips up and down a flight of stairs.
Squat and Jump: About 5 minutesStand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart (in sneakers or bare feet, not cycling shoes!). With your arms at your sides, squat until your hips reach knee level, keeping your weight back and your knees even with or behind your toes. Then explode straight up and jump as high as you can, swinging your arms upward to generate momentum and more height. As you land, bend your knees to absorb impact. Immediately return to a standing position and repeat. Beginners should do two sets of 10 jumps, intermediates three sets of 10, and advanced riders two sets of 15-20 jumps. Rest 1 minute between sets.
Training ride with CTS PowerIntervals: total time 60 minutesPowerIntervals are short, hard efforts designed to boost your top-end power, but also to improve performance at any speed, so they’re worth doing even if you don’t intend to sprint for a single finish line this year. Warm up for 15 minutes. 4 x 1 minute at max effort (as fast as you can sustain), with 1 minute easy spinning recovery between each. These are very hard, and the time between intervals is purposely too short to provide full recovery. Beginners should do one set, intermediate riders two sets, and advanced riders three sets. Take 8 minutes of easy spinning between sets. When you’re done with the intervals, enjoy the rest of your ride.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weight Training for Cyclists- Part II

Many studies conducted on (trained & untrained) cycling groups that have combined aerobic endurance training and strength training appears to evoke a continuum of opposing adaptational responses. Why is that? It's because strength training alone is known to elicit an increase in muscle fiber size. That may sound like a good thing but for cyclists it's not, for two reasons: a) an increase in muscle fiber size reduces mitochondrial density and possibly capillary density (remember, high mitochondrial and capillary densities helps resist fatigue in the muscle) and b) increase muscle fiber size adds unwanted muscle mass/weight. The good thing is that increase fiber size (aka hypertrophy) is attributable to higher forces resulting in higher strength/power. High intensity endurance training alone, on the other hand, is known to elicit a decrease in muscle fiber size compromising the resistance training-induced increase in strength and muscle size. See the opposing adaptational responses?

So, what's this all mean? Does it mean that a cyclist should NOT engage in a combined aerobic endurance training and resistance training program? NO..not at all. But, it does mean that if you do enroll in such a program..that you do it under the supervision of a cycling coach that understands Exercise Physiology. Because if done right, I believe that an "explosive" resistance training program (vice a heavy resistance program) can evoke a marked increase in muscular strength/power, without compromising a combined aerobic endurance performance. An increase in a cyclists muscular strength/power will increase a cyclists ability to sprint at the end of a race..and isn't that a good thing to know when you're 200 meters from the finish line (after a 25 lap, one-hour criterium)..and it's only you and another guy duking it out for the top podium spot? I think so.

Here's a summary table of what was discussed- a comparison of physiological adaptations to resistance training and aerobic endurance training (click for larger view):

Weight Training for Cyclists- Part I

I can't begin to tell you how much I've read re: this subject in the last month or so. To tell you that the reviews (as to the effectiveness of a Weight Training regimine for cyclists, when combined with an aerobic endurance training program, in the off-season) are an understatement. And, I'm telling you the reviews are from the experts in the field: PhDs, MDs and Physiologists.

So, you may ask, why do I even care about a Weight Training program if I'm a cyclist? Specificity of training tells me if I want to get better (stronger) on the bike..just ride. But, unless you live in Hawaii or Key West, FL, where you can do that- just ride outside all year around- you're most likely going to be stuck inside during the Winter months. And, I don't know about you..but I get pretty stinking tired of JUST riding indoors doing interval sessions (or whatever) on my trainer all Winter long. Besides, for me, the off-season is a time to "mix it up a little", have some fun so you don't burn out, and prepare for the upcoming race season. (BTW, I think I would burn out if I lived in South Florida and could ride all year round.) When I say, "mix it up", I'm talking about X-training. i.e. doing things off the bike, like X-Country Skiing, Rollerblading, running, etc. It's also a time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on those weaknesses. For me, my weaknesses as a racer are many: carrying too much weight (which drops my watts/kg and makes it difficult to climb hills fast), having a subpar aerobic engine (low Lactate Threshold and/or VO2max which makes it hard to hang-on during fast group rides), and having underdeveloped leg muscles (which will most certainly exclude me from any sprint finish). The weight I'm not worried about..because I'll start losing that with a strict diet and formal exercise/cycling training plan (which started in November), and the subpar aerobic engine will be tuned-up in February and March when I do more intense cycling interval training. But, what about underdeveloped leg muscles? I can take care of that weakness RIGHT NOW and continue that up to the racing season with a formal Weight Training Plan. Sounds pretty easy huh? Well, one problem..if you ever picked up a book on "Exercise Physiology" (and actually read it) you'll have discovered that Aerobic Endurance Training (i.e. cycling) and strength training (i.e. weight training) really don't complement each other too well. Why is that? See Part II for more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Secret Workouts for Cyclists?

Here is one of Lance's weekly workouts for October 2008, posted on a Power Training Forum by a very reliable source. After looking at this workout, you'll see that Lance isn't doing anything "magical" or "secret" in his preparation for yet another Tour de France victory. In fact, this is a typical workout that I prescribe for myself, in addition to the athletes I coach. Take a look for yourself:

-2 x per week 5-5.5 hrs endurance pace
- 2 x per week 3-4 hrs endurance pace with 2 x 20minutes at *just below LT pace (380-400watts)
- 1 x per week Tuesday-nighter
- 1 x per week 3-4 hrs with 2 sets of 4 x 20seconds max effort x 40 seconds recovery
-1 x per week day off-travel, rest.

Other than the microburst workout, once per week, seems rather ordinary. Although, I can't remember the last time I rode for 5 hrs. at endurance pace. Must be nice to have that kind of time eh? Anyway, there are no secrets or magical workouts..even for the elite pros.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Power Advantage Training Program


aCome join us for the 2008-2009 Power Advantage Training Program. Find out why training and racing with a power meter will make you a better cyclist. Power Training Sessions will be performed on the brand new Power Beam Pro power meter from Saris/Cycleops. For more information on the program..go to the High Road Cycles website at then click on Bike.reg to register for the program!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Transition Phase

Ok, it's September and for most of us..the racing season is unfortunately OVER! Now, we have officially entered the "Transition Phase"...the period in our Training Plan where we evaluate our current race season and start preparing for the next. This is also a period where we give our bodies both a physical and mental break from the bike. But, it's NOT a complete do-nothing's an "active recovery" break where we reduce the intensity of our training rides..and do "other stuff" like swimming, running, weight training, mtn. bike, cyclocross, etc. It's ok to continue to ride..but I would NOT race...ANYTHING. The experts also say that this is a period to increase the Volume. I always thought that was funny. i.e. how can I decrease the intensity and increase the volume of my training rides when I'm running out of light? And, the last thing I'm going to do is to sit my butt on an indoor trainer for 2.5 hrs. Don't laugh, I hear people on the message boards doing just this. I think that's insane.

Here is a blurb from an article on that I just read that pretty much sums up the Phase we're in:

"The purpose of the Transition phase is to allow your body to rejuvenate while not completely detraining so that you can begin next year's Annual Training Plan ready and able to build upon this season's success. In short, the purpose is to go faster when it matters (i.e., not during the off-season).
After nearly eleven months of training, chances are your body is tired down at the central nervous system level. Rather than stop training cold turkey after your final competition, I prefer to take a week or two to progressively reduce both work volume (i.e., frequency and duration) and intensity and to shift the emphasis to exercises other than your primary sport. For cyclists, this might include running, hiking, swimming, tennis or yoga. Because of the reduced volume, the transition phase is also an excellent time to spend some extra time with those who support you throughout the season.
The appropriate length of your Transition phase will depend upon many factors, including your age, experience level, degree of psychological burnout, timing for your first peak in the following season, etc. Generally, however, a transition should last three to five weeks. During this phase, you should train two to four times per week. Remember, these sessions should be low intensity and low volume. The purpose is active recovery, not becoming a nationally competitive athlete in another sport."

For more articles on the "Transition Phase" or "Off-season" Training, click here:

Enjoy your time off! Remember, do NOT push it or's the only time to really take it easy! Have some fun..spend some time with the family and/or friends. Remember them? The ONLY ones that REALLY care/love you that you blew off during the racing season. Coach Rob

Monday, August 25, 2008

Solo Century Rides

How many of you have ridden Century rides with your friends/buds in the past? I know I've done a bunch, and to tell you the truth..I think they're just junk mile rides that benefit you only by burning calories (if your goal is to drop a few pounds) and getting your butt used to sitting on a bike seat for 6 hrs. But, have you ever ridden a Century Ride solo- and challenged yourself to go as hard/fast as you can? I've ridden two local Century rides solo this year: Suburban Cyclists Unlimited (SCU) Quad County Metric Century and the SCU Lake Nockamixon Century..and starting to prefer them that way- SOLO. And, in each ride I challenged myself to go as fast/hard as I can. The beauty of these rides is the following:

a. you've got a well marked route on the road so you can't get lost
b. you reel in the slower riders one by one- which ought to motivate you to go faster/harder
c. you've got sag support enroute
d. you've got aid/food stations enroute
e. you've got safety in numbers
f. you can ride as fast/hard as you want..usually faster on your own
g. you can find a fast group or riders and sit-in/draft for a portion of the I do
h. you can enter the ride mid-route (on your bike) if you need to drive to the start
i. you don't have to pay..if you don't want...and still eat/drink at the rest stops...hahaha
j. you might see some of your friends along the way
k. you get home when you want to, not when your friends allow you to
l. you get a better workout in on your stopping..slowing..waiting..etc.
m. you can quit..anytime you want when you're cooked..and soft pedal home
n. you can go as many miles as you want..nobody says you have to do 100 can do 125 or 50
o. you can create a race day scenario..i.e. pretend it's an Ironman bike leg
p. you can try to break 5 hrs for 100 miles averaging 20 mph..or some other goal

Anyway, I could go on and on. So, next time there is a Century ride in the area, ride your bike to the route solo..and see if you don't prefer them that way in the future. Yeah, I miss out on the social aspect of the ride. But, you can always meet your buds at the bar afterwards and get your socializing in then...over a nice cold beer or two..or three. Treat yourself for a hard days work. Cheers Rob

Friday, August 8, 2008

Racing and Crashing

Hate to say it..but if you race a lot..sooner or later you're gonna crash. Crashing is an inescapable part of racing. And, a lot of times it's a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. i.e. being taken out by someone. I'm not going to tell you how to prepare for a crash either..other than to say statistically you're probably better off trying to keep your hands on the handlebars and roll..rather than to use your hand(s) to break your fall.

But, the purpose of this post is NOT to tell you what to do BEFORE a crash but what to do AFTER you crash. Naturally, the first thing to do AFTER is to assess your own health/condition. Did you hit your head? Are you cut? Did you dislocate or break anything? If so, seek medical attention right away. The second thing you want to do is to assess your equipment. Is your helmet dinged, cracked or damaged? How about your bike? Do you have a carbon-fiber bike w/ carbon handlebars? If so, do NOT continue the race. Why? Because you never know if you're carbon fiber handlebars or bike frame is not damaged..and you may not only be jeopardizing your own safety but that of the peloton...if you continue. When carbon-fiber bikes and/or handlebars are damaged it's not readily noticeable and they don't bend like Aluminum or Steel when they're failing or about to fail..they shatter. Also, bike helmets are NOT football helmets. Bike helmets are only good for ONE impact...not mulitple impacts like football helmets. So, if you hit your head on the ground at all- regardless of how hard..that's it..GAME OVER! At least for that race. If you're able to read this post, and you hit your head during a bike crash, consider that your helmet did the job it was intended to do..keep your brains from being scrambled. Now go out and buy a new one..that is lighter, cooler, etc.

When you get home from the race I recommend that you take your bike back to the shop that you bought it from and have them look over it REAL good before you ride it again . They're the experts. If you have either a carbon frame or handlebars, they'll probabaly insist that you/they send it back to the manufacturer. Most good bike and bike accessory manufacturers have good Crash Replacement Policies. You may want to check into it before you make your purchase. Here is a link to Trek's Carbon Bike Frame Replacement Policy:

Yeah, I know it aint cheap to replace your new carbon frame or handlebar..but it's a lot less than ignoring any potential/un-noticed damage and causing an accident that may injure a fellow rider, friend or family member.

Better safe than sorry!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Great Valley Practice Criterium

Went to the GVPC last night (for the first time) w/ a group of CB Velo riders. For those of you that don't know about is some info. I stole from Guy's Bike Shop:

Great Valley Practice Criterium Thursdays - 6:00 pm Location - Great Valley Corporate Center (Off Route 29), Malvern Format - 30 laps, sprint every 3rd lap, 30 miles, flat w/one riser Average Speed - 20 to 25 mph Map - Great Valley Parkway, Malvern, PA 19335

I don't know how old this post is from Guy's but the speed surely picked up a tad. My computer said 26.7 mph for the average speed. I'm not sure who the lead dawgs were but I'd say there were a couple Cat 2/3 racers in the mix..approx. 50 riders in all..which I heard is a relatively light crowd for a Thursday night Crit. Anyway, what I wanted to do is share some post-ride Power Tap data for you Power Guru's out there. Here is the ride data that I downloaded from my Computer:

Dist: 31 miles
Work: 800 kJ (800 calories)
Avg. Normalized Power: 230 watts (assumes const. pedaling)
Avg. Power: 195 watts
Avg. Heart Rate: 173 bpm
Max. Heart Rate: 193 bpm
Avg. Speed: 26.7 mph
Max. Speed: 38 mph

Ok, so what's all this mean? It means when you're sitting-in, you really don't have to produce that much power. i.e. 200 watts for me, and I weigh 174 lbs. But, what you can't see in these numbers are the accelerations per lap that allow you to sit-in. On each lap, I had to crank-out three 20 second intervals of 300 watts to keep me hanging-on. That's in addition to the lessor duration and power output intervals each lap. The peak 20 second interval for each lap averaged around 400 watts...with my max 20 sec. interval of 500 watts. That was when I got stuck pulling out front..bleh. I say bleh, cause I was redlining...almost blew-up..fried the engine.I missed the final sprint, but that's because I lost track of the laps. I'll learn!

Anyway, if you want a GREAT TRAINING CRIT..this is it folks. If you get just try to get back on when the group comes back around. We meet at Jason Wood's house off of Cold Spring Creamery Rd. at 430pm. That works for me since I live 2 doors down from Jason on Boxwood Circle.

Cheers Rob

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tapering for the BIG Event

Ok, you've got a BIG race coming up and you're wondering how much/how little training you should do with the remaining days. Train too much up until the event and your legs will be tired, train too little and you'll be stale. But, what is too much...or too little? To peak for the BIG event, you want to reduce your training volume the week before but maintain the intensity. So, if you've been averaging say 200 miles per week on the road, cut it down to less than half of that..around 75 miles per week. Continue doing interval training because that will help retain muscle enzymes that help you process lactate. This type of taper combines rest with intensity. It allows recovery but encourages speed. Fast riding will also allow your neuromuscular system to stay accustomed to going fast when you ask it to go fast during the event.

Say you have a 40k TT coming up. If so, do 5 min. intervals at race pace intensity (L4/L5). If you're doing a shorter TT or a Crit, do 3 min. intervals instead. Remember, you don't want to do too many of these intervals. You're just trying to give your legs a wake-up call without tiring them out.

Here's a sample pre-week interval workout for a 10 mi. TT I have coming up. Don't forget to warm-up for at least 15 minutes prior to the intervals:
Day 7- 5x3 at L4/L5
Day 6- 4x3 at L4/L5
Day 5- 3x3 at L4/L5
Day 4- 2x3 at L5
Day 3- 1x3 at L6
Day 2- 30-60 minutes of easy riding at L2/L3
Day 1- Race Day

Go Fast! Good Luck! Have Fun! Coach Rob

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Burning a Match

We all know what burning a match is...we did it as kids. Didn't we? At least I played with matches as a kid...hahaha. And, we all know what a matchbook is right? If you don't, that's the paper/carboard jacket that all of the matches are held in place with. And, there are a certain number of matches within this matchbook. There could be 3, 5 or even 20...but nobody has an infinite number. Sorry Lance, not even you.

So, what's this have to do with cycling? Well, every cyclist has a matchbook with a discrete number of matches in it. When you're done all your over..end of race day...especially if you burn them prematurely. Question is: how do you know how many matches you have in your matchbook? Equally important question is: how do you know when you burned a match? I'll answer the initial question first: the best way of knowing how many matches are in your matchbook is through hard training and/or racing experience. The answer to the second question is: you can tell if you burned a match based on the following chart:

All you have to know is your FTP, and you can determine what a burned match is for different durations. Pretty nice/easy eh? For more information on, "What is a Match?" refer to Allen/Coggan, "Training and Racing with a Power Meter".

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Derby Ride- May 25th at 0900

Our next D-Town Derby Ride is this Sunday, May 25th at 0900 leaving from Cold Spring Elementary School. (See details on CB Velo Blog for more info) Hope to see you all there!

2008 Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial

Join me on Saturday, June 7th, 2008 in Philly for the "2008 Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial". You can register online with The TT is a flat out/back course on West River Drive starting at the Philadelphia Art Museum. The distance is 8.4 miles and all categories included. Starting time is 0730. If the Category listing on their flyer is any indication of proposed starts it is: Men Cat 5, Cat 4, 40+, 50+/60+, Cat 3, Pro 1/2, Women then Juniors. Start times will be posted one week prior to the event at:

The event is hosted by Tri-State Velo Club and is a Commerce Bank Official Event. It's also a PA Cycling Association BAR Event.

Online registration will close at 11:45 pm on Wed, June 4. There is NO day of registration!!

Contact me if you're thinking of going, or already signed-up.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lake Placid Ironman Training Weekend

Just got back from a weekend training in Lake Placid. I'm not participating in Ironman Lake Placid in July, but I had an AWESOME time training with those that were. The weather was PERFECT, food/drink good, and the company even better. If you're interested in joining me and TWiley Sports next year, drop me an email and I'll tell you more about what we're planning...which will be bigger/better I'm sure. Here are some pics from this years weekend:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pre-Race Prep 101

I thought I'd give you some tips on how I prepare for races...specifically my next race which is tomorrow, Sunday April 20 in Harrisburg, PA. It's a 20k Time Trial. Here are my Top 10 tips:

1. The first thing you want to do is check to see when your start time is. For me, it's early 7:42 a.m. to be exact..bleh. The last thing you want to do is miss your start time...or your warmup.
2. What time do I need to be there? Well, the shorter more intense efforts require more warmup time. So, that would be at least 60 minutes for me (incl. registration, bike setup, dressing, etc.)..everybody is different. I HATE BEING RUSHED FOR A RACE!
3. Where is the race? Find directions and print them out. If your'e a geek like me, you have a GPS so program it now, don't wait. I ALWAYS recommend printing out maps ahead of time, even if you have a GPS..cause if your GPS goes tits're lost. Hey, it's happened to me!
4. How long does it take to get there? For me, from my home in Doylestown, it usually takes 2 hrs. to Harrisburg. Always check to make sure there's no traffic delays or construction enroute. Ok, so that's 2 hrs. to get there, and 1 hour warmup with a 7:42 a.m. start time. So, I'd have to leave my home at 4:42 a.m. That's LEAVE at 4:42 a.m...not get up at 4:42 a.m. I'd have to get up at 4 a.m. then drive for two hours..bleh.
5. Well, I'm not getting up at 4 a.m., so in this case, I decided to get a room tonight/Saturday night. Red Roof Inn, Harrisburg- $54/night AAA rate. It's a room..what can I say. Write the confirmation number down and telephone number.
6. Ok, got your directions, booked your room now what? How about your equipment? Bike all setup? Got your helmet, gloves, shoes, kit, glasses, booties/bandanna, etc? Got all your nutritional items: Gu's, Power Bars, Accelerade/Gatorade, Recovery Bars, Food, etc. for the race and after? Tire pump? Tools?
7. How about money, waiver and your racing license? Did you fill your car gas tank? You don't want to have to stop if you don't have to. Clean the windshield? Oil ok? Tires?
8. Got your cell phone? (Hard to believe anyone leaves without it these days) How bout clothes and a towel for the ride home? Relaxed? The day before is NOT the time to get in a last minute workout.
9. How about a trainer to spin on before the race? I used to laugh at guys that did this..but now, I think it's a great idea...for various reasons. Especially when you can't ride the course ahead of time. How about an iPod w/ some crazy tunes to get you pumped up while on the trainer?
10. Ok, you think you're ready..and you have all your what? Do you know the course? Have you ever ridden it? If not, DEFINITELY try to get out and ride on it in advance..even if it's with your car. If you can't, I HIGHLY recommend you check out the course with Google Earth. Google earth will show you the elevations so you know EXACTLY where the hills are. You don't want to be surprised on race day. I even print the course from Google Earth.

By the way, this is all easier if you go with a group..because you have people to bail you out if you forget something, or if you get lost, have a mechanical, etc. Heck at my last race, three cars got stuck in the mud and had to be towed out. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone from my area going to this Time I'm on my own. If you got any OTHER tips I missed, please email me and I'll include them:


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting dropped on the hills?

Have you gotten dropped lately (on the hills) during one of your recent group rides or race? Don't despair you're not alone...I just got dropped the other day. Yeah, I know it's not fun and not something to talk about..but if you ride a lot, regardless of your ability/level, sooner or later you're going to get dropped by stronger riders- especially on the hills. Wait a minute, are these other riders really "stronger" riders or are they "lighter" riders? Are they both? What makes some riders better hill climbers than others is their "Power to Weight Ratio", also denoted watts/kg. The riders with the higher Power to Weight Ratio will be the better hill climbers. So, how do you find your "Power to Weight Ratio"? Power to Weight Ratio's can be determined during Performance Testing, something that my partner Todd (TWiley Sports) and I perform for area athletes. Performance testing will determine what your average maximum sustained power output is, aka Threshold Power (watts). You take this number (watts) and divide your weight (kg) to give your watts/kg. Here's an example, say my average max sustained power is 300 watts. I divide that number by my weight (180 lbs= 180/2.2=82 kg) to give: 300/82= 3.65 watts/kg

So, how do I increase my Power to Weight Ratio? Good question! There are three ways: a) increase your power output (watts) b) decrease weight (kg) or c) do both a & b. When I say lose weight, that either means find a lighter bike to ride or shed a few pounds..or both.

As a coach, I can help you increase your Power to Weight Ratio which will make you a better hill climber. I'm not saying you'll never get dropped on the hills again..but you won't get dropped by the same group. For more information on performance testing, individualized training programs, and weight loss programs, contact me at: Cheers Coach Rob

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pimp My Ride- 2008 Trek Madone 5.2

Well...finally put a deposit down on a NEW bike I've been looking at and researching for almost an entire year: The 2008 Trek Madone 5.2 (all carbon). I wasn't particularly enamored with Trek (since it's a high-volume bike company), nor was my interest piqued by the fact that Lance Armstrong rode/rides "The Madone". What definitely piqued my interest was the "engineering" that went into the design and fabrication of this 2008 Madone. I've read over 100 articles on this bike..not to mention the hundreds of cycling forum message board opinions, and I have to say..I NEVER saw a negative response..or a bad review. I can't say that for any other bike. Can you? Besides, it's made in America (Wisconsin) and not overseas somewhere where all the other high-volume (and some high-tech) bikes are made. Anyway, I got a chance to get out and demo-ride it this weekend. Here are my initial observations: Fast, Comfortable, Light, Responsive, Good Climber, Stiff, Stable, etc. Anything I didn't like about it? I thought it was a little bouncy. I'd expect the ride to be smoother than my "stiff" aluminum Cannondale CADD 7 frame. Could have been the tire pressure was too high. I didn't check it since the shop (High Road Cycles) pumped the tires up for me. I have to make a couple tweaks to the bike. For one, I have to drop a spacer in the stem/head tube as it makes me sit a little too upright (I bought the Performance model in lieu of the Pro model which has a longer, more upright head tube)..and could be the reason for the bounciness. ie. I was sitting too upright and too much weight on the back wheel and not enough on the front. Any customization? You bet, just like Harley Davidson buyers modify/customize their rides, I'm doing the same: going to replace the Bontrager handlebars with FSA K-Wing (full carbon) handlebars because I like the flat section on the addition to the "sexy" look..hahaha. Also going to replace the wheels with my Bontrager X-Lite wheelset with built-in Power Tap SL 2.4 Power Meter. Lastly, going to replace the Bontrager seat with a Specialized Toupe Gel seat. Throw-on a couple carbon bottle cages and we're good to go! Here'a pic of my "new ride". BTW, want a good deal on a "Madone"..see the folks at High Road Cycles in Doylestown, PA..I'm sure they'll take care of you, like they've taken care of me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CB Velo

Kickoff Meeting Announcement for a new cycling team in Doylestown. Check it out: