Category Archives: General Updates

Training Truths

There is no spoon.

Nowhere to go but up.
Nowhere to go but up.

First and foremost, there is no one thing that holds true for everyone. No magic bullet. No “perfect practice.” The only way to learn what works for you is to try it.

Want beats need.

Your mindset towards training can be as important as the training itself. Don’t think of it as “I need to do my intervals.” Think of it as “I want to do my intervals.” Don’t think of it as “I can’t eat that cheesecake.” Instead, think “I don’t want to eat that cheesecake.” (Okay, that last one might be extremely difficult). When you associate words of choice rather than words of requirement with an action, those actions are taken (or not) with a more positive attitude, yielding better results.

“Cycle” also means “repeat.”

It’s the name of what we do. We cycle – we repeat what we do over, and over, and over. That’s how we get better.

Returns diminish.

The more you do it, the less special it is (I’m talking about focused training, of course). Whatever you start to focus on will show significant increases at first, but will eventually level off. However, it’s the minute increases at the top of this flattening arc of improvement that will set you apart from the field.

Food is fuel.

Remy’s dad in “Ratatouille” said it best: “Food is fuel. You get picky  ’bout what you put in the tank, and your engine’s gonna die.” I don’t mean that you can eat Twinkies all day and go climb the Alps d’Huez. But you also don’t have to eat kale chips and deprive yourself of a cookie once in a while.

You are not your results.

It’s only too easy to get caught up in the end-game: complete a century; do a sub-5; podium. Cyclists are nothing if not obsessive. If you train for months and don’t make your goal, what then? Was all that training wasted? No. There are all sorts of reasons for not making a goal. As thousands have said before me, shit happens. You could be perfectly placed one moment for the sprint, and the next you’re spit out the back. You can get 90 miles into your century, and suddenly you’re out of gas and cramping. Don’t let the achievement – or not – of your goals define who you are.

Rule #5 is more of a guideline.

You can’t be bad ass all the time. You are not made weaker by saying, “I’m not riding today.” You choose, and should never feel bad about choosing. Riding is a luxury, something to be enjoyed. If it becomes a hardship or requirement, then seriously, what’s the point?

R.T.D.B.

“Ride the damn bike.” Whether you’re new to cycling, or a multi-century-per-day monster, doesn’t matter. You want to get better? RTDB. You want to go faster? RTDB. You can’t afford expensive gear – doesn’t matter, RTDB. You think you might be dropped? RTDB. If you add saddle time, you’ll improve. That’s it. No fancy intervals or meal plans or ultra-pricey gear. Just ride.

Race Report: Crosswinds Classic 2016

When it’s windy out, I try to train anyway. And in Tulsa, we know all sorts of wind: breezy, gusty, OMFGsy, etc. If you don’t train in the wind out in the Midwest, you might as well not ride your bike.

There’s training in the wind, and then there’s racing in the wind. And racing in the wind is a whole different ballgame. A lesson clearly demonstrated at the Crosswinds Classic down in Little Rock, AR. Continue reading Race Report: Crosswinds Classic 2016

Out of the Frying Pan

Only a few hundred feet from the start of the 2015 Tall Chief Road Race - Cat 5, 67 racers.
Only a quarter-mile from the start of the 2015 Tall Chief Road Race – Cat 5, 67 racers.

By now, most of you have ridden in a group ride, or a mass start tour ride. Your skills have improved, you’ve got thousands of miles under your belt, and your speed is starting to really climb. So, you want to jump into a race. But what is it like within that peloton? How does it differ from a group or tour ride? What should you look out for?

The more you know going into that peloton, the safer you – and everyone else – will be.

Continue reading Out of the Frying Pan

Insider Trading: A Beginners Guide to Racing

Yes, this is about as organized as the race will get.
Yes, this is about as organized as the race will get.

When I first wanted to dabble in racing, I was given exactly zero advice. In fact, the only thing I was told was, “Hey, you should race.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming my teammates at the time. I didn’t ask a lot of questions. At the same time, not much was volunteered. It’s just how it is.

That doesn’t work for me, though. I’m a planner. The more I think and know and analyze going into a situation, the more comfortable I feel. But what I found was that those who are racing tend to speak in racing terminology, to others who have already raced.

So, for those tour riders who have been speeding up and enjoy competition (and a lack of elbow room), I’m going to go over some of the things that I know now that I did not know before I started racing. Think of it like an IFAQ – Infrequently Asked Questions – for getting into racing.

Continue reading Insider Trading: A Beginners Guide to Racing

Aggregate Thoughts

Insert cadence A into potassium port B... wait, where did aero position G go?
Insert Cadence A into Potassium port B… wait, where did Aero Position G go?

If you picked up a wheel, could you mistake it for a bike? Probably not. But you know it’s a part of the bike. What about the handle bars? The saddle? The tires? Any individual piece will tell you something of the bike, but you can’t call any of them the a bike without the rest of them. The entity of the bike is – as with many things in life – more than the sum of it’s parts.

Our brains work the exact same way. No one neuron contains a memory. You can’t just pull out a single brain cell and say, “Yep, that’s Friday, 7:15 PM, when I ate that steak.” That neuron contains only a piece of the information. A very small piece. Through it and the thousands of others surrounding it, we start getting a sense of the idea, and in turn the idea itself. Every memory, every thought, is an aggregate of many smaller pieces that on their own don’t mean much.

This concept is an important one in riding.

Continue reading Aggregate Thoughts

Are We There Yet? (AKA: The Chase)

Whereas most of my posts focus on casual riding, I’ve been doing a good amount of racing in the past year, so I’d like to cover a racing topic. More specifically, I’ve been doing a lot of criteriums (fast, short-course races), that contain breaks, chases, and – more often than not – failures of chases to catch breaks. These events got me thinking:

  1. How long would you have to work to chase down a break?
  2. How hard would you have to work to chase down a break?
  3. At what point does it become unfeasible to chase down a break?

Continue reading Are We There Yet? (AKA: The Chase)

Temet Nosce (Know Theyself)

Know Thyself. One of the Delphic maxims (seen here written in Greek - "gnothi seauton")
Know Thyself. One of the Delphic maxims (seen here written in Greek – “gnothi seauton”)

Forget the bike. Forget the gear, the road, the nutrition. Forget everything but you. Stand there and take a good, hard look. There are some truths you’re going to have to face. You are you – no one else. You are only as strong as you are. You’re only as fast, as well trained as you. This is important, because everything – everything starts there. With you.

There are two sides to this ancient Greek aphorism (an inscription from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi). In one sense, it’s a warning: to know your limits, be humble, and avoid boasting. In the case for the Temple of Apollo, it could be taken as a reminder to walk humbly in the presence of gods. On the other side, it means  that the opinions of others account for nothing – that you must know who you are, no matter what others say or do.

Continue reading Temet Nosce (Know Theyself)

The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 3 – Fuel Costs

[This is Part 3 of the “Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition” Series. Click here to read “Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients“, or “Part 2 – Calories In, Calories Out“]

How you’ve managed to stick around for this much reading is beyond me, but kudos! In the last part of this series, we went over the common mistakes with caloric burn rates and caloric replenishment, as well as the upper-limits of replenishment. In this final segment of this series we’ll deal with the caloric deficits inherent to cycling, and some post-ride scarfing that – when done right – can help make up for it.

Unblancing Act

Try as you may, the output is stacked against you.
Try as you may, the output is stacked against you.

So… notice a problem here with the numbers we’ve seen over the last few posts? Let me give an example:

  • Average glycogen reserves: ~2,100 Calories
  • Yesterday I did a ride in which I burned 734 Cal/hr
  • I ingested about 150 Cal/hr (really, I should do MUCH better than this)
  • Calories available after processing: 135 Cal/hr
  • Hourly caloric deficit: 599 Cal/hr
  • Total ride time: 2 hours
  • Total caloric deficit: 1,198

Now, for a 2 hour ride, that’s okay. I have more than enough glycogen stores that I shouldn’t bonk (assuming I start replenishing right after the ride), and in fact I didn’t bonk, even with my low ingestion rate. But if I were to extend this to a four hour event, that caloric deficit is would’ve been huge – 2,396 Calories. Even with having eaten 600 Calories over those four hours, my tank is definitely on empty, and I probably started feeling that approaching wall around the 3:30 mark if not sooner. Had I eaten twice as many Calories, I would’ve been at a deficit of 1,856, which my glycogen stores should be able to just about cover, meaning I’d have been getting worn down but most likely wouldn’t have bonked.

Continue reading The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 3 – Fuel Costs

The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 2 – Calories In, Calories Out

[This is Part 2 of the “Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition” Series. Click here to read “Part 1 – The Macro on Nutrients“]

Welcome back! In Part 1 we covered what the various macronutrients used by the body are, and how they are used. Today, we’re going to go over the loss of and replenishment of calories: the rate they’re burned, how many calories we need, and how fast we can replace them.

The Numbers Don’t Lie To Us, But We Do

Riiiiight....
Riiiiight….

Before we figure out how much we need to put in the tank, we need to figure out how much we’re removing. Many cyclists use activity trackers that track power and heart rate to give us a pretty good idea of the calories expended on a ride. When we get home, we see those burned calories and think, “Yes! I can eat a whole extra day’s worth of food!” Slow down. Yes, you burned those calories, but one thing a lot of cyclists forget is that some of those calories would’ve been burned even if you were just sitting around watching the Tour de France.

Continue reading The Nitty-Gritty of Nutrition, Part 2 – Calories In, Calories Out