Training Articles by Cycle U Coaches

I love Cyclocross because it is the most fun kind of racing. No matter how I end up finishing a race, I always get an amazing workout and my “hair blown back” as my friend Toddy T used to say. Cyclocross is never boring. It is slippery, arduous, thrilling and tricky. Often I am riding so hard I can barely breathe – and I love it. Like downhill skiing, it is you against the course. There are always one or two rooty or rocky sections of each course that I mess up on. Maybe I didn’t position my bike right and got knocked off my line, or crashed and had to run to catch up. But from those mistakes, I learn. I love the feeling of finally getting it right, nailing it through a tough section without losing too much speed. It’s a great feeling to make up ground on another rider because I found a faster way through a turn.

Our Cross Bootcamp started this week, and I love it because it gets my head back into the game of Cross and starts the fitness gains I want to make through winter. I actually become more fit through the winter because of cross, and tend to get a bit out of shape in the spring. When Cross Bootcamp starts I know my downtime is over. It feels good to begin pushing my limits again, and I am excited to see our junior racers out there doing the same. It is very inspiring to see our kids braving the elements and giving it everything they have on the course. Their efforts have motivated me to get back into racing cross seriously. We plan to go to Austin TX this winter for the national championships, giving me the chance to see how I stack up against the other 50 year olds. Here is a video of me in my last race last year at Enumclaw if you want to get a feel for what cross is all about.

This is early for most “normal” people to think about cross, but a good time to start dipping your toes in the water if you are just starting. If you want to join us in September or take an intro class from us in the next couple months I hope to see you. Lots of people jump on the band wagon in September or October when we have more classic Cross weather. Join us and get on the program, your body, bike handling skills and mojo will be glad you did.

Coach Craig

This time of year I struggle to fit everything I need to into my busy schedule, including cycling. It can be a challenge to keep myself in shape during the months leading up to Cyclocross season, but I know if I can keep myself going strong until Cross Bootcamp begins I will race well. Our Cross Bootcamp really takes care of the rest of my preparation, with rides four days a week. The constant schedule really helps me get into the rhythm of training. It becomes second nature to complete the rides, pushing myself step by step towards my goal. This inertia helps me avoid my natural laziness, and keeps me from taking the easy way out. When I coach someone, I look for the same kind of “automatic” training. A workout plan that becomes a regular habit, while giving the rider set “stepping stone” achievements to help them reach their goals.

If we are 6 months from your target event, there will be a few “stones” to step on in your preparation. Your training plan might look like this:

Your goal is to ride the RAMROD, a 152 mile trek around Mount Rainer with 10,000 feet of climbing. Starting in March, we will create “stepping stone” benchmarks working up to RAMROD. Your first step might be to ride a hilly century in March at your target pace. Next you might pick a hard ride at the end of May or in early June, like the Chelan Century. From March to June, you will be training to ride the Chelan Century. Your only goal is to finish the Century at your desired pace for RAMROD. Working up to a large event with stepping stone goals like this can help you both mentally and physically. By the time you hit RAMROD, you know you will be able to tackle the long climbs and distance. There will be less stress on you to train up quickly, as you will have been working up to your goal for the past several months. This technique will help you immensely, and works the same for all our main coaching disciplines: Triathlons, Cyclocross, and road races.

As you prepare for your final events of 2014 and look towards 2015, think about how to bridge your fitness to your target with “stepping stone” events as your training focus. Find a way to support yourself with intermediate events and training so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting right before a big event. This is where our teams, classes and bootcamps come in. Meeting each progressing goal with teammates, in a class with newfound friends, or in a bootcamp with your coach cheering you on can motivate you to reach the next step. Our classes and coaches will provide you with the stepping stones to make sure you are ready on race day. You just have to make the leap.

Many of us have big events to finish in the coming months, so I will leave you with my key to motivation in a long race. The key is visualization. Find a good memory of you finishing an event. It could be this event last year, or a similar ride. Savor it, see yourself powering through, getting into your stride over the hills and through long straightaways. Remember your hard work, and the pride and camaraderie of crossing that finish line. Imagine yourself meeting last year’s goal time- no, beating it! Then see yourself wait for it…this is the key… enjoying your time after the finish. The hot afterglow of a long ride,  a cool drink and your teammates and friends. You have worked hard for it, and once you visualize your success, that positive expectancy will draw you to your best finish yet.

Yours on the suffering line, and loving every minute of it!

Coach Craig

Summer is finally making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest, and those participating in outdoor activities need to be thinking about sun safety. Hot weather riding is more demanding on your body than riding during cooler temperatures. Summer riders need to be aware of hot weather hazards including dehydration and heat stroke. Luckily, these are preventable with the proper preparation.

Follow these basic tips and you’ll be ready to roll!

1. Keep dehydration at bay by making sure you are drinking regularly. Stop and refill your water bottles when you can. Cycle U West Seattle always has a water cooler available just inside our entrance for a quick fill up. For those who don’t like to make extra stops to re-fill bottles along the way, you can use larger 24 ounce bottles and consider packing an extra bottle in your jersey. However you choose to do it, make sure you are drinking regularly and that your bottles don’t go dry during your ride.

If you tend to not feel thirsty during rides (I know you camels out there!), this does not necessarily mean that you are not at risk for dehydration also. Regardless of if you feel thirsty or not, you should plan on taking in water every 15 to 20 minutes as a rule. This simple precaution can save you a big headache down the road!

2. Keep up on electrolytes. When you sweat a lot, you’re losing a lot of salt and other electrolytes. If your electrolytes drop enough, you will be at risk for cramping and delayed recovery time. Additionally, if you drink too much water without any salt, you may be at risk for hyponatremia, a medical condition that occurs when you develop a sodium imbalance at a cellular level. (Note: this does not mean you should dump table salt in your water!) To prevent salt deficiency, you can simply add in an electrolyte mix to your water. There are many available for purchase at Cycle U and other sporting goods stores, including the very popular Nuun.

3. In case of an emergency, make sure you have identification on you and let others know where you are heading. This goes for riding anytime: It is always a good idea to let people know your riding plans, and to keep identification on you at all times. Whether you take a wallet with you, or you choose Road ID, make sure you are being a responsible and safe cyclist.

4. If the weather looks too hot for your cycling comfort, one option is to ride early or late. Head out in the morning before the heat of the day, and end before it hits. Evening rides can also be very pleasant but keep an eye on visibility! Long summer days make later and earlier riding possible, but always be careful riding before dawn or after sunset. A front white light and rear red light are required by law for riding in the dark. It is always a good idea to ride a route in the daylight before tackling it under twilight conditions. If you are safe about it, a sunset or sunrise ride can be a beautiful thing!

5. Last, but not least, know your limits. If the weather was hotter than anticipated, and you don’t deal with heat well, maybe you shouldn’t do the 70 mile ride you were planning. Use common sense and be realistic.

Happy (hydrated) Riding, everyone!

Coach Vanessa