Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 USA Cycling Summit

About 90 of us made our biennial trek to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the 2010 USA Cycling Summit. The accommodations are great and the weather was beautiful. We had about a dozen coaches from NorCal, most of which spend a bit of time at the track so it was a chance for some good hang time.

Following is a brief summary of the 12 lectures we attended in five days...


Challenges Facing Coaches Istvan Balyi
Long-Term Athlete Development Istvan Balyi

Lots of great info on early childhood development and dealing with the teenage growth spurt.
Also some good stuff on periodization.


Communication Kirsten Peterson, PhD

Some great tools to assess and improve communication between individual athletes.
Also how to use the same tools with a club or team.


Thermoregulation Stacy Sims, PhD

Don't use ice to cool off. Cool water on the wrists and palms is better.
Water in your bottles and real food in your pockets is best.


Sprint Track Training Jamie Staff

We need to open a pipeline between BMX and track racing.
I was hoping for training details but got none.


Paralympic Cycling Craig Griffin

Got me thinking about another program for our velodrome.
Lots of wounded vets are coming home that need an outlet.


Altitude Training Randy Wilber, PhD

If you need the benefit of altitude training it still takes four weeks.
Got some good advice on traveling to race at altitude.
All the other stuff sounded a bit too much like doping to me.


Mountain Bike Training Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD

Kristen is a great speaker and very passionate.
Of course her lecture was more about psychology that training.


Aerodynamics Andy Coggan, PhD

Oh my god, this was too close to rocket science.
If you go in a wind tunnel be sure to test in a crosswind.


Concussions Bernard Condevaux

Don't hit your head. If you do, seek medical advice and be conservative.


Business of Coaching Gale Bernhardt

Time to rewrite my business plan and mission statement.


Using Technology Steve McGregor, PhD

Always a pleasure to listen to Dr. McGregor. He is dry, witty, and very sarcastic.
Great new tools are coming for measuring training stress for runners and tri-geeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mad Dash

It's been a little over a year since I decided to make track racing my primary focus. As I get closer to the top I find myself trying to emulate some of my favorite racers. There are a few that I make a point to watch whenever possible. Dave McCook, Jame Carney, Zak Kovalcik, Giovanni Rey, Laura McCaughey, Steve Pelaez, Brian Peterson, Jen Featheringill, Pete Billington and Cari Higgins come quickly to mind. I've been wondering since returning from TVC, AVC, and FSA-GP why this particular group has enchanted me. The one thing that stands out most clearly is an image of these riders coming over the top through turns three and four and passing several riders on their way to the line. And when they come barreling down that finishing straight I always get a little giggle at how fast they are pedaling. It's precisely that head down, elbows out, whirling mad dash for the line that keeps me getting on my bike day after day and dreaming of the next big race.

Following is the final 2 laps of a recent ten mile race...

2 to go and this poor guy has Zak Carney Beardsley Allen McCook and a pack of hungry young Canadians on his tail...Zak hit the front on the back stretch and was friggin flying!

1 lap to go and the final three are on the front. McCook was tucked in nice but couldn't hold it...

Zak put in an amazing dig and almost held it but Carney is just too darn fast.

Uh yeah, 29+ MPH on a tight bumpy track. Sweet Baby Jeezus! See you at the next show.

Monday, June 7, 2010

high force/high cadence Quadrant Analysis #1

Okay, since the subject came up today, here is my high force high cadence jumps for all to see. I have been doing these along with box jumps in the gym to get my race specific jump together. This has been in addition to high cadence VO2max work and weekly racing. I pick a gear that I can spin at 110 rpm and then jump hard out of the saddle and wind it out. I am doing these in preparation for the Anaerobic Capacity block I will do after the Testarossa Velodrome Challenge. It should be noted that this was my first track specific winter in the gym and will be the first time since I started track racing in 2007 that I will be doing a full blown anaerobic block of training. I am 45 years old and have been riding hard for ten years...

VO2max #4 Quadrant Analysis

Success! On my fourth attempt at a proper VO2max workout I was able to complete two whole sets of 6x3:00. This comes near the end of a hard block of training and racing every week. Now I'll try to freshen up for the Testarossa Velodrome Challenge this weekend and then get some recovery before really digging in to some serious speed work leading up to the AVC and FSA Grand Prix in mid July.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

VO2max #3 Quadrant Analysis

Eeek, I attempted to complete a VO2max workout on a day when I ain't feeling so fresh from yesterday's effort. I made it 2 minutes into the second interval of the second set before the lights went out. And when I say lights out I mean if I had to sprint for my life I might not have survived. But the Quadrant Analysis is pretty much the same as workout #2 so I'm cool with that. I'll do a day of rest then have another go on Monday with fresh legs. My guess is there will be a big jump in race fitness this week.

Friday Night Pro1/2/3 track race Quadrant Analysis

Okay here we go. I did the Pro 1/2/3 omnium of 40 laps scratch race and 50 laps points race last night. The blue dots are the warm-ups and cool-downs. The red dots are the the 90 laps of racing at an average speed of 45 kph. Average cadence was 105 rpm. I ride a 94" (49x14) gear. I barely sniffed the front a couple times but with a full field of 36 hungry riders I was basically relegated to the role of wheelsucker. I never missed a split and was rarely in danger of getting dropped. I didn't bother with the miss n out as I was done done done with it by then. The big surprise is the high percentage of quadrant IV riding. That's almost half (46.6%) of the effort being high cadence (above 100rpm) and low watts (below threshold). So the take home for the night is it really does pay to do lots of high cadence work on little gears...I'll show more of that in the up and coming block of speed work, but it is strikingly obvious at this point in the game that the big watts will need to come with high cadence. Hitting 1200 watts at 90 rpm is of no use here...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

VO2max #2 Quadrant Analysis

Okay, in staying with my mantra "don't get hurt don't get hurt don't get hurt" I headed out to do just one set of 6x3x3 with the goal being to get the cadence up into the track specific quadrant 1. I'm pretty sure I could have completed a second set but we'll just have to wait til Monday to see for sure. That said, I am very happy to report that I was able to do all six in the 107-112 rpm range. See how the red blob has shifted to the right compared to my last post? The other unexpected occurrence was I popped out of bed when the alarm went off raring to go. This is a new sensation for this time of year as traditionally I am in deep fatigue and suffering the June Swoon. This balanced racing schedule and specific training is really starting to look like it's coming together in time for Portland and Seattle woohoo! Friday night I have no choice but to race with the P/1/2/3's so I guess I'm in for some speed work and a good old fashioned whoopin'.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

VO2max #1 Quadrant Analysis

This is a picture of my first proper vo2 max workout of the year as I get ready for some big races in July and August. The protocol is two sets of 6x 3:00 at 110-120% of functional threshold power with 3:00 rest between intervals and lots of rest between sets. Over the course of the next month or so I am gonna attempt to move my red blob up, to the right, and into the high cadence/high power quadrant needed for mass start track racing. For you stopwatch guys this means I'm trying to go 45-50 kph on a 94" gear for 3-8 minutes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Strength Training Q&A

I got the following question in my in box tonight...

"Dean, where are you getting the training program from? I'm about to build a little strength program for [my daughter] over the next 2 months. Could use some tips!"

And my reply...

I am a Level II USA Cycling coach, I write my programs myself. If you are looking for a qualified coach to lean, on I would check with Harvey Newton

All the rules of periodization apply to strength training...I rely heavily on Tudor Bompa, Joe Friel, Greg LeMond/Cyrille Guimard, Hunter Allen, Andy Coggan, Arthur Lydiard, Harvey Newton, and Mark Rippetoe.

The key is having constant dialog and hands on training with the coach. The program must be written specifically for the athlete's goals, as well as addressing her strengths and weaknesses. Finding a good balance between strength and endurance takes great communication, patience, and flexibility within the day to day application where the well being of the athlete is the highest priority. There is no excuse, but plenty of opportunities, for a bike racer to get injured in the gym.

I subscribe to the theory that bike racers need to spend time on the bike, therefore, my goal is to get in and out of the gym in about an hour, 2-3 times per week. High repetitions of single joint exercises with light weights is a waste of precious time...we already do that on the bike! We, as bike racers, need to do multi-joint exercises with heavy weights (relative to the individual of course) in the 5-8 repetitions range, followed up with explosive moves when we get close to our peak racing season. I'm talking about squats, dead-lifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches...followed by simple plyometric type exercises, like box jumps, when it's time to sharpen up for racing.

Lastly, the athlete MUST build up to this over several months under the guidance and care of a qualified coach. DO NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW A COOKIE CUTTER PROGRAM THAT IS THE NEWEST, HIPPEST PROGRAM OF THE STARS!!! I know of several athletes who have lost several months of training because of poorly written programs, improper technique, and a lack of patience.

I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes and please feel free to contact me if you require more ranting.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Winter Performance Testing

Who wants to go out and do a 40K time trial this time of year? Better yet, who wants to do a one hour threshold test on an indoor trainer???

For everyone that went "Eeewwww! I'd rather be stuck in a cage and poked with sharp sticks for an hour" I am developing my own indoor performance testing protocol using a MAP test and a simple follow up field test to round out the power profile.

For starters, my findings and prescriptions are based on the Coggan Power Levels and the teachings of Hunter Allen. I apologize to the both of them in advance for mangling your intellectual property hahaha! But, so far it's working for us, and my friend the ER Doc is interested in my rebel methods, so I'm laying it out for all to see. Hi Suzanne! Keep in mind that I mostly work with amateurs, women, and masters bike racers, so this protocol is developed for us.

I use a CompuTrainer, a PowerTap, and WKO+ power analysis software.

Okay, the first thing I do is estimate the athlete's FTP (functional threshold power - what the rider could do in a well paced 40K time trial). I'll use myself as our example. This past season my FTP stabilized around 300 watts and I figure it has dropped to about 270-280 watts in the off season. We'll be optimistic and go with 280 watts. I take that number and figure my Coggan threshold power level to be 255-296 watts. From there I divide the lower number by 2 and that serves as my starting watts for the MAP test. 255/2=127.5 rounded down to the nearest multiple of five (the CompuTrainer manually goes in 5 watt increments starting at 50 watts) giving us a starting point of 125 watts.

The reason I jump through all these hoops is that I want the test to last from 10-15 minutes, give or take a minute or two. The other part of the equation is I like to do winter training blocks of about six weeks with a rest week between blocks. The testing comes immediately following the rest week.

The other thing about the CompuTrainer, which works out to be a good fast warm-up, is the unit needs to be warmed up at 150 watts for 10 minutes and then a quick calibration is performed. I like to start with some easy spinning at 50 watts and gradually, over the course of 15 minutes, work up to and hold 150 watts for as long as is practicable. For those with higher FTP this means holding 150 for the last 10 minutes. For those with lower FTP this means holding 150 watts for the last minute or so. I also include some high rpm pedaling to shake things loose. Then we do the quick and easy coastdown to calibrate the CompuTrainer and off we go.

I started my test at the previously mentioned 125 watts and hit the +5 watts button every 20 seconds until failure, which last time around was in the 13-14 minute range. Then I do a little easy spinning at 50 watts until my vision returns and the birds stop chirping.

Next I take the PowerTap, download it into WKO+, and find the peak one minute. That is what I consider to be the MAP or roughly power at VO2 max. I averaged 327 watts for my best one minute. I take that number and subtract 15% and use that as my FTP. 327-15% = 278 watts.

Confirmation time. Lucky for us we can usually ride out of doors several days a week, even in the dead of Winter, but the confirmation test can be done on an indoor trainer as well. Just be careful not fall over, or better yet, don't bother with the jumps and sprints and do the one minute intervals seated...

The confirmation test is one five minute all out effort followed by a 20 minute time trial, 2x1:00 flat out, and several hard jumps and sprints. All efforts should be done after a minimum of 5 minutes recovery. More if neccessary.

My five minute test was 320 watts and the 20 minute time trial was 278. The one minute intervals hurt like hell and the better of the two was 530 watts. My best 5 seconds was 1139.

These numbers are solid enough that I can confidently use them as a base for the next block of training. Remember there are no set on/off points between training levels and the grey areas between our metabolic systems are broad enough to absorb the errors of my math. Also, this time of year is about building and maintaining fitness while eliminating race limiters, so if you need to fudge the numbers, err to the conservative side, so when the peak racing season arrives, you can spend like a drunken sailor. I hope this helps!

Until next time, ride fast and swerve...