Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bicycle Safety

I'm amazed at the amount of cyclists I see riding on the road in the early morning wearing all-black clothing...or cyclists riding near dark without any lights on their bike. I just don't get it. Are these morons (yes morons) looking for a good excuse to end up in a hospital? I thought the reason why the majority of us ride is for (good) health reasons? Yes/No? How healthy is it riding on the road with dark clothes when drivers can't see you very well to begin with. Why make it harder on them? That's not to mention the drivers that are texting on their phones...or drinking their morning coffee with one hand and munching on a donut with the other.
The next time you ride..I want you to think about this blog and what you can do to ride SAFER. Better yet, go to this website: and READ some of the things you can do to not only make yourself more visible but prevent an accident BEFORE it happens. There's no excuse to ride without some reflective piping in your cycling clothing...especially if you ride alone. There is definitely safety in numbers if you can ride with/in a so. Better safe than sorry. Be SAFE! Power ON! Coach Rob

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stopping/Quitting on an Interval Workout

February is the time in most peoples Annual Training Plan (ATP) to start ramping up the intensity and performing harder interval workouts. When I say "harder" I'm talking physically and mentally harder. Have you ever started a 2x20 L4 (Lactate Threshold) Interval Workout and 10 minutes into your first 20 minute interval you're feeling like 100% dogsh$t? I have recently...and I know a few of the athletes I coach have felt the same. Lets face it, 2x20s at L4 are tough workouts...and if you don't think so..chances are you're doing them at less than your "actual" LT Power. (That's why you should continue to have yourself tested throughout the year so you can adjust your power zones accordingly)
Question is: What do you do when you feel like crap and you just can't seem to physically or mentally go on? Do you:
a. stop/quit your workout and resume another day?
b. lower your power and continue the 2x20s at L3 instead?
c. discount power altogether and finish the intervals based on HR?
d. reduce the duration of the intervals to say 2x10s at L4 instead of reducing power?
The more important question is NOT WHAT YOU DO..but WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? For me, I've done all of the above...but always wondered which of the 4 options was/is the best for my training. I'll give you the response I get from every Exercise Physiologist (PhD) I normally ask such questions: IT DEPENDS! It depends on why you can't finish the workout. Is it because you didn't get a good nights sleep, stressed out, poor nutrition, too much too soon, etc? (BTW, I recently emailed Velonews to ask the same question of their EX FIZ gurus to see what they would say. I'll let you know what they say when they get back to me).
There are times when I think it's BEST to opt for a). and stop/quit a workout..specifically if you're sick, getting sick, didn't sleep well, poor nutrition that particular day, dehydrated, hot, etc. I see no need to run your immune system down more than probably what it already is by trying to "stick it out". Besides, a few lost workouts isn't going to make/break you. Of the four options, I think b). is probably the one I opt for most often when I feel like crap. Granted, you're not getting the full benefit of the harder/higher L4 power physiological adaptation...but 75% is not so bad in my opinion. It's not a total loss of time and energy. Option c). is probably my second choice...because when you're feeling like crap your HR is usually higher/elevated than what it normally is. Therefore, it's almost the same as option b). That is, your HR is at LTHR but your power output is probably only at L3. Option d). is probably the one I'd least opt for. Why? Because when you start changing the durations of your interval workouts you start changing the energy systems/physiological adaptation your trying to develop/improve.
There is NOTHING wrong with quitting a workout. You won't get mentally weaker if you do. (However, make it a habit and you will.) That is why during the Feb/Mar timeframe I try to start doing all of my harder L4/L5 workouts with friends. It's a LOT tougher to bail on a hard workout when you're doing them with friends..and you see that same grimace of pain on their faces. (Misery breeds company) So, start doing your harder workouts this Feb/Mar with your buds...and push/motivate each other to complete these tough workouts. You will definitey reap the benefits when the racing season begins. Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comfort on the Bike

After talking to my friend AK about Wind Tunnel Testing the other day, it made me think about what I call the "Speed" Triangle. He was telling me a few of my new race team members spent some time in a low speed wind tunnel this past Fall/Winter. It made me wonder if these guys REALLY got their money's worth. Why? Because to do it right (zero in on your best AERO position)'d probably have to spend a full day in the tunnel yourself..NOT splitting valuable time up with your buds trying to save a buck on Tunnel Time. And, I'm guessing a full day in a wind tunnel would probably run a couple thousand dollars. When I say do it need (trial and error) time to ensure that your NEW found AERO position is also comfortable and optimizes/maximizes power output. A stealthy AERO position does not always afford that. That optimization requires repeated trials in the wind tunnel to ensure that COMFORT and POWER are not compromised with each AERO position change.

Many of you have seen this "Speed Triangle" before. The equilateral triangle (shown above) has equal sides because generally when you Ride or Race you want to consider each side equally (well- not really but we'll get to that in a bit). After all, what good is AERODYNAMICS if you're not COMFORTABLE in the position or POWERFUL. Likewise, what good is a COMFORTABLE position if it's not AERO or POWERFUL?

There are races, however, where you're not going to consider each side of the triangle equally. For example, say I have a 5 mile Time Trial coming up. I can tell you for a fact, that my top consideration for that particular race will be POWER. Who cares if my POWER position is not COMFORTABLE. It's such a short race..I'll deal with an UNCOMFORTABLE position. Of secondary importance will be AERODYNAMICS. After all, I don't want to be throwing away watts because I'm sitting up too high collecting wind. Conversely, you could see that a 40km Time Trial..things would be different. In this case, I want AERODYNAMICS to be top priority followed by COMFORT then POWER. Don't get me wrong..they are ALL important..but in a longer race I believe you can save (or buy) watts if you're more AERODYNAMIC. Naturally, that AERODYNAMIC position should be COMFORTABLE- since you're going to be in it for just over an hour (under an hour if you're an animal). If you're not COMFORTABLE you're going to sit-up, move around, and ruin that stealthy AERO position you paid handsomely (in the wind tunnel) to discover.

In this particular blog, I'd like to talk specifically about COMFORT. We'll discuss AERO and POWER in future blogs. In most master cyclists (like me), COMFORT is usually compromised by a past injury or a flexibility issue which inhibits performance. Therefore, it's imperative that you/we work on flexibility and strengthening exercises NOW so that when racing season comes we can exert more force/power to the pedals and go faster. That's the whole idea behind what's called- functional flexibility. Functional flexibility is not only important for us old guys but VERY important for you young guys for injury prevention. Functional flexibility includes: core strengthening, stability exercises, leg strengthening, etc. Here are some good exercises that Harvey Newton, cycling strength specialist, recommends: abdominal crunches, stability ball crunches, pillar bridge, pillar side touches, squats, lunges, hops, etc. Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to get lean for Peak Performance

I just read a pretty good article by Matt Fitzgerald that was posted on the website. I'll post the article here so you don't have to listen what I have to say about it:

You may have noticed by now, if you're a frequent visitor to my blog, that I probably post an equal amount of Power and Weight related blogs on this site. Why is that? That's because if you want to be a competitive cyclist and perform at your highest level/potential..YOU MUST BE LEAN! The guy/gal with the highest sustainable Power is NOT always the one who wins a hilly road race. It's the guy/gal with the highest sustainable Power to Weight ratio. (Funny, I'm saying all of this as I just threw a handful of Reese's pieces in my mouth....NICE!) So, how lean is LEAN? To be honest, I'm not quite sure- which is why I'm going to order Matt's book entitled: Racing to get lean for peak answer the question.

There is no doubt in my mind that I'm not as lean as I should be. In fact, I know I'm at LEAST 10 lbs overweight with body fat percentage looming around 12%. My goal for this season racing is to be sub 170 lbs., with 9-10% bodyfat. That's lean for a 6 footer like me, at 50+ years old. How lean are you? A couple of my friends have single digit body fat measurements. One is an elite professional triathlete and the other is a soon-to-be professional cyclist. Does that tell you something? Power ON! Coach Rob

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let it Snow...Let it Snow...

This is Part II of Let it Snow..a former blog..on riding outside this Winter even when there's snow. I've snow skied ever since I was a kid. I was a ski instructor for over 5 yrs. and I raced during College- Penn State Ski Racing Club. After college, I skied some of our Country's finest slopes all over New England and out West. For you long-time skiers you know what it's like to be the first one on a lift and to be the first one down the mountain skiing fresh powder (or 'freshies" as the Snowboarders say). I don't ski hard anymore (two herniated discs). Hell, I don't ski period because when I ski fast/hard the carving/skidding turns just send shocks up my spine..and it hurts. Anyway, I miss my days skiing fast/hard...and that's the only way I like it.

But, I got a chance this past week to get out on the freshies...not on my skis but on my Mtn. bike. I got that same feeling you get when you take that chairlift ride to the top of the mountain..the serenity..the beauty..the quietness of new fallen snow. It only snowed a couple inches but that's all I needed or actually wanted for my ride. Believe it or not, traction was actually good with my knobby Mtn. bike tires. The only places you really have to be careful are at intersections where cars accelerate/decelerate and pack the snow down to ice..making it extremely slippery. That is why I ride on the canal path...void of cars/traffic and anyone for that matter. Actually, what I do is mix up the ride with a combination canal path ride and hill climbs on the roads adjacent to the canal path off of River Rd. (Rt. 29) in NJ. It's really a lot of fun..and a great workout.

Pictured above is Jason Wood with his newly built Cyclo-Cross bike on Tumble Falls Rd. Jason joined me for my canal/hill ride. Unfortunately, Jason took a spill about 2 minutes after this photo was taken, on the descent, where a car had obviously got stuck, spun its wheels and created a packed-snow/icy condition. Jason went down and scratched up his new steed. Guess that's why they call it Tumble Falls Rd...haha. He was ok, but his bike needs some touch-up. Anyway, be careful/alert..and get out there when/if it snows. It really is a LOT of fun...especially if you're a former avid skier like I was.

Oh, BTW, wear a helmet. I don't think Jason was wearing one and he could have been hurt really bad if he had hit his head when he fell. So, wear a helmet next time Jason. I actually wore my ski racing helmet on my Mtn. Bike. I may have looked like a nerd/geek/etc. but my helmet keeps my head/ears warm, in addition to protecting my mellon, and the older I get the smarter/wiser I get. I learned the hard way growing up as a kid...falling while skiing/biking and hitting my head without a helmet on. Plus, as a ski instructor I saw some pretty bad crashes where people hit their heads and had to be med-evac'd to the hospital. Some didn't make it.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Indoor Training Coming Soon

If you're like me and hate doing HARD indoor training workouts by're in luck. Todd Wiley (Professional Triathlete and USAT Coach) and I are currently organizing indoor group training sessions for January, February and March. They will probably start mid-January at a site to be announced. Training sessions will include networked Computrainers (for rent) utilizing RacerMates Multi-rider software as well as Ironman Real Course Videos. You can also bring your own trainer and join along with interval workouts that YOU SHOULD BE DOING to prepare for the 2010 race season. There will be weekly and weekend sessions...dates and times to be announced.

So, stay tuned..we hope to have more information for you this week with specific times/dates/fees/etc. We'll be having USA Cycling Cat 2 racer, Jason Wood in attendance for most training sessions. For those of you that don't know Jason, he is a local (Doylestown) rider who has gone from Cat 5 to Cat 2 racer in less than 3 yrs...and he's on a quest to become a Cat 1 Pro this summer. We'll also be having other elite Triathletes and Cyclists joining us. So, if you want to train with/where the Pros/Elite athletes train...then you'll want to join us this Winter.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Winter Training Camp

With the snow/cold that has already descended upon us, I'm REALLY looking forward to Winter Cycling Training Camp in Las Vegas, NV. I've had a choice between Hunter Allen's Power Training Camp in Bakersfield, CA and my friend Mitch Lesak's annual trip to Death Valley..but I decided to do my own training camp in "Sin City". I figure, where else can I go where I can: a) take the wife b) be relatively certain of half-decent weather c) have plenty of things to do when I'm NOT riding d) CHEAP e) good hilly/mountainous routes to ride void of traffic f) not too far g) rent a bike if I don't want to take my own h) etc.

One of my favorite cycling routes is out to Red Rock Canyon and back (frm downtown Vegas). The Canyon Rd. route is very scenic and ascends over 1000 vertical feet. (see elevation profile). The loop is a little over 14 miles long. It's a great place to not only ride but to hike as well. Last year when I was here (in February), the temps were in the mid 60s to low 70s w/ snow in the mountains.

If you're interested in joining me. As of now, I'm planning on making the trip Washington's Birthday week- February 22nd, 2010. You can get roundtrip air (direct) out of Philly or Newark for $250. You can also stay at the Hilton Las Vegas for as low as $69/night. You can't beat that. The game plan is to ride approx. 50 miles every morning from 9am til noon and relax/shop/hike/sight-see/see a show/gamble/etc. in the afternoon and evening.
Power ON! Coach Rob