Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Skate Ski Camp Motivation

Check it out.  This is what is possible on xc skis.  XC SKIS!!

Short version, good tunes:

Longer version, better vid.

No, I don't think you'll be quite this good after camp, but you can dream.

Camp will be late Jan, stay tuned for more info.  You'll love skate skiing!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Mikes Don't Make A Wrong

Two of my boys ended the season on pretty high notes and I'm both super proud of them and really excited about where we're headed in 2011.  I might even be more excited than they are right now as they are both basking in the well earned glow of reaching their (lofty) goals and taking some time to recover physically and mentally from the efforts. 

Mike Festa and Mike Hebe wrapped up their seasons with a second place overall finish in the MAC Men's B competition and by snapping up the last Kona qualifying spot in the Cozumel IronMan for men 40-44, respectively. 

Festa built his MAC success on consistent high placings from the start of the season through the last race and in the process grabbed a win at Granogue.  Perhaps even more impressive was that this November success came at the end of a season that saw Mike take on some big challenges including riding extremely well at the Trans-Sylvania Epic in May and making a strong run at Battenkill Roubaix in April that had him in the final selection at the end of "America's Hardest One Day Race."  Coming into form for three events in one season is no mean feat that takes work ethic and mental toughness and a solid plan.

Festa in action:
Festa on the Bald Eagle Coburn stage of Trans-Sylvania, courtesy Abe Landes Photography

Festa riding the steps at Granogue on the way to victory.  Captured by Scott Hendrickson.

And speaking of mental toughness, Hebe could be the proverbial picture in the dictionary defining the term. His season was highlighted by some great performances in TTs, Tris and a Aquathon, but what was really impressive was his commitment to training.  Hebe didn't race a lot this year and really very little after making the decision late in summer to make the run at IM Cozumel.  In fact, the longest triathlon Hebe raced since returning to tris in prep for his assault - again, not just to finish the damn thing, but to qualify for Kona - was an Olympic distance event.  As any IMer will tell you that marathon at the end of the day is the real killer.  Hebe prepped for Cozumel on the strength of his very focused approach to training.  He went out and did what was needed and through strength of mind - both in belief of his ability to compete and in his willingness to train as hard (or harder) than he needed to race - grabbed that last qualifying spot for Kona.  

As an aside, the other very cool bit is that way way back in the day Hebe took a shot at Kona and just missed.  He decided that at that point in his life he needed to focus on his career and turned to road, cross and mountain bike racing for 20 years.  In less than two years he's made a return to multisport racing and now we're building to the World Championships.  That's a good story, but it ain't finished.  Now to the "Kona Here We Come" plan.

Crossing the finish in Mexico.  On to Kona.

Here's a little interview with Hebe, who has also organized the MAC and PA 'Cross series the past several years about all this stuff - http://www.cxmagazine.com/macs-iron-mike-hebe-trials-series-director

Nice work fellas,

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Have you seen this yet?  If not you should.  These things are fun.  These things are good.  CadenceTV is something we started cooking up a few years back when I was hanging out in Philly with the crew.  Of course, I'm not there any more, but luckily Brady is and Brady knows some stuff.  See, Brady went to school for doing fancy things with video cameras and audio equipment and such.  He took the good idea of CadenceTV and has continually tweaked it to make it something most anyone who spends any time indoors on a trainer in the winter can appreciate and enjoy (I suppose this is a loose interpretation of the word "enjoy" but you know what I'm saying).

CadenceTV takes the idea of the indoor trainer DVD and expands it into a web based version that offers dozens of workouts with more coming every week that offers variety in a ready-made 1 hr dose.  All you need to do is log in, jump on, and go.  The online interface provides all the instruction you need for the workout with pop-up notifications of changes in intensity and technique throughout.  You can even customize the experience further by inputting your own personal heart rate and power data which will then be reflected during the workout on the screen.

The interface keeps improving too with more of the workouts being shown with video of group rides or races which helps engage the psychological components of training.  This can be further customized by booting up your own vids and showing them over top the Cadence video feed or even bringing up something like Hulu or internet TV and putting those in the place of the video stream - you can still see the workout so the training is uninterrupted.

Why would I talk about this here when I'm not with Cadence anymore?  Well the guys are a good crew and do a great job and this is something that can benefit anyone - and I do mean anyone, even those of us lucky enough not to be stuck in a winter climate.  CadenceTV is great for people who are just time constrained and need a quick workout any time of the year.   Plus it is $100 for the entire year - so you could maybe get 5-6 DVDs for that amount of cash and here you get access to an ever expanding library of workouts - potentially hundreds before long.  For $100 it is a great tool and a worthwhile investment for most any athlete.

And that's the kicker.  I'm here to make my athletes faster, stronger, better and smarter.  I am constantly looking for tools and educating myself so that I am able to deliver this to my athletes.  CadenceTV is something I suggest adding to the arsenal of training tools for my peeps for the simple reason that it can help get them to their goals.  Like I said, doing that for my athletes is my #1 goal.  Give me a call and we'll get you to yours - or get you to exceed them even.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Your Fix

These guys kick ass.  I love this site.  It is chock full of great info about a bunch of different sports and is presented in a manner that is relatively free of corporate influence. The two scientists behind this site cover whatever is the major world wide sporting event happening at any particular point in the year (they don't count Bowl games as world wide though, sorry).  You'll see coverage on all sorts of things and some pretty in-depth analysis that, if you happen to enjoy reading about the science behind sport performance, you'll love.   Best part though is that even when they get technical they go back and make it simple to understand too. They also run feature series on topics like hydration and running form that are well worth the read if only to have someone playing devil's advocate on the latest trends or on science backed by corporations (read the hydration series for more on that little ditty).  

This is great place to learn more about sport in general.  If your interests only lie with cycling then at least put these guys down for some visiting hours during summer stage races where they break down performances like few others can or do.  Plus with these guys being from South Africa you'll find a little different approach perhaps than what the US prognosticators offer up.  That's nice too.  Bring a sipping beverage and stay awhile - www.sportsscientists.com.

Right now they're running their take on the "Best of 2010" and have given "Drug of the Year" honors...no spoilers here though.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Getting Cold Out There -- Winter Training Tidbits

With winter's icy chill upon us here in the Mid-Atlantic....

Puncture Proof Your Ride
Not much is worse than getting a flat when it is sub-30, unless it happens to be raining too.  While no tire is puncture proof - remind me to tell you about the time I punctured a tire, tube and rim(!) all in one shot - you can do a lot to reduce the chances of getting caught trying to peel off a way too tight bead with hands slowly blackening from frostbite!  A heavy duty tire with puncture resistant plys is your first line of defense and I suggest choosing a tire that has the same level of flat resistance in the side wall.  Specialized's Armadillo tires have always done me well here and I've also had good luck with Conti's Gatorskins.  Another method is to go for thorn proof inner tubes - basically these are just super thick inner tubes that are going to take a awful nasty pointy thing to poke through.  Double up the thorn proof tube with the heavy duty tire and you're likely set (though I think the ONLY flat I ever got on Armadillos was the aformentioned metal forging puncture so no thick tubes may be necessary there!) for the winter.  No, your bike will not ride as well - it is going to feel less supple with this sort of set up - and you're going to add weight to the rig, but who cares, it's winter and it is way better than making your buddies wait for you to struggle through a flat change in mid-January!
Another possibility here is to go with Stan's NoTubes and go with the sealant fix to eliminate that leaky tube.  This could allow you to keep a better riding tire on the bike and still be puncture free.  I'd still suggest some extra sidewall protection from the heavier duty tire whether you go tubed or NoTubes through the winter just to be sure.

Fenders Aren't Just for PeeWee
Okay, some of you are going to say that fenders aren't cool.  Maybe not though there are some nice ones from Crud Catcher and SKS these days that look way more svelte than fenders used to.  What is cool - or downright cold - is the spray from the wet slushy nasty salted Mid-Atlantic winter roads.  And not only cold, that stuff isn't real nice to that frame or all those pricy bits and pieces you have hanging all over it.  Fenders keep you, your clothing and your bike cleaner and drier and that can lead to more enjoyable and longer winter rides.  They're also great on group rides - if everyone had 'em!  At least you don't have to be the jerk throwing slush all over your riding buddy.

If you find yourself in a pinch this winter - out longer than you intended and getting really chilled or caught in the rain on a cold day - grab some plastic to save your butt.  Plastic obviously isn't a great choice most of the time - it doesn't breathe and you want gear that breathes.  Unless your freezing then you just better get warm.  And, there is nothing better in the cold and wet to keep you warm than plastic bags.  You can find plastic bags all over the place, but two way to obtain them that work really well - convenience stores where you can find the shopping bag style and get a dry place close to the bike to modify them to your needs and those lovely little bags that hold newspapers.   I've used bags in all sorts of ways - shoved up the front, back and sleeves of a coat, to cover my feet inside my shoes (since it is super thin it plastic bags will fit right over your socks) and even in my gloves with a little bit of ripping and tearing - and they do work in an emergency.  And, if it is really really really cold I might even start with them on my feet.  Again, this stuff doesn't breathe and that is BAD so whip this out only in emergencies!

Put Your Right Arm In
Of course, while plastics are a great emergency solution when you haven't prepared well the best way to enjoy the winter is to make sure you have the right gear and you use it at the right times.  Winter gear has progressed and improved a ton since I started riding and the new lighter weight and more technical apparel is definitely nicer than the heavy jackets we used to wear.  Understand what you have and what you don't have and make an effort to fill in the holes in your winter collection.  One great thing about high quality winter gear is that it does last a long time.  Even though the new stuff is a lot better than my old faded gear, I have some neon purple/yellow bits from the early 90s that is still functional...slightly embarassing but still functional.  Invest in good winter gear and it will last potentially decades.  Don't be afraid to spend serious money for good stuff - unless you think the new stuff is just too sexy not too have....BTW, have you seen the Radiation gear from Castelli??  Damn.

As one of my athletes recently said, 'Yea, the jacket was $350, but I use it several times a week all winter long and I'll have it for years.  That's a lot less than I spend on race wheels that I probably don't nearly use as often or put anywhere close to the same number of miles on.  And probably benefits me more actually when I really think about it.'  That's pretty logical.  Get good stuff.

Let's Get It Started In Here
December is definitely time to start planning for next season if you have not done so already.  Yes, not all the calendars are out yet, but for the most part you can start to put together - and perhaps mostly flesh out - your event calendar for next season this month.  This is one of the primary concerns in setting up your annual training plan.  It is also a great time to start to think about those goals and even picture in your mind how you're going to get there and what it is going to look like when you put down your best performance on that day.  Positive mental imagery is very important and you have no reason to doubt that you won't be at your very best come race day - you have all the time you need to get ready - so start picturing that success as you start laying out the events.  Once you have an idea of what events you're going to target then it is possible to lay out a training plan based on what you need to do in order to overcome the challenges of the event.  All of this early preparation should only add to your confidence and expectations for success.  A good plan not only gives you the right workouts and training cycles, but gives you confidence that you'll be at your peak when your big day comes.  I'm here to help.  Give a call or drop an email.

Breathe Deep
In today's age of high tech monitors and wattage based training plans sometimes the forest gets lost in the trees.  This is a great time of year to take some of the clutter off the dashboard and spend at least a couple weeks just riding or running.  Base training - or not worrying about training and enjoying riding for the joy of riding - can definitely be done a lot by feel as long as you are honest with yourself about the effort you're making. 

Power monitoring and other technology is incredible.  It has changed how we train and how coaches build plans.  Understanding and making proper use of that technology can make your training time more efficient allowing you to stronger by training more intelligently.  That being said, sometimes you need to make sure you're head is up and you're doing the one thing that likely got you building goals and chasing dreams through sport in the first place - nothing more than being out there doing it.
Look around. 
It will be time to get focused soon enough.

Small Block Plans Now Available

I keep the Power On training plan break down as simple as possible.  Having seen the more complicated side of things I find that simple is better when it comes to plan options for the athletes and the coach.  Easy delineations between what one plan level offers and another make choosing the right plan simple and straightforward.  I've been offering two plans up to this point both of which have allowed athletes unlimited contact with me; the only difference between the plans coming from the additional analysis of power data.  This is my preferred way of coaching because it has been readily apparent to me in over more than a decade of  designing training that the athletes who interact with me most frequently often get the most from the training.  In my ideal world I hear from all of my athletes frequently!

That being said, I have been approached by a number of dedicated athletes looking for something a little different.  I've been asked to provide an option that creates a completely personalized and customized training plan, but at a lower cost.  Both very experienced athletes who have a good sense of how to cope with obstacles that arise in their training and athletes on a budget who want more than just a pre-built plan have come to me.  My solution are the following "small-block" plans.

Available in blocks of 12 weeks or 24 weeks, these plans start the same as the month-to-month plans do with an in-depth interview with the athlete that addresses all the important information needed to build a custom plan.  These plans differ in that they are delivered as a one-time block and do not include on-going communication or analysis in the cost of the plan.  The major benefit to this sort of plan is that it is still designed around you, your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, your schedule, your life, your past training, your target event and the demands of that event at a lower cost.  It just may be perfect if you feel you do not need as much interaction with your coach. 

Personally, I much prefer to communicate closely with my athletes on a regular basis.  I feel the athletes get more out of the coaching and I can coach them more effectively because I can respond or anticipate issues that may arise and we can adjust their plan as needed.  But, I take the same care and attention in building out these small block plans as I do in building out the training for my regular athletes and designed this as an excellent option for the right athlete.  Please contact me directly to get started on your 2011 plans!

12 weeks: $250 ($350 for triathletes)
24 weeks: $400 ($500 for triathletes)
Start up fee and Annual Training Plan design: $100 (waived with a 1 year commitment)

Initial power based testing or analysis is available and recommended when starting your training program.  Contact me for details.

Notes:  Small Block Plans must be paid in full at sign up.  A follow up call to explain any questions you may have about the plan is included after you've had a chance to look over the plan.   Modifications to the plan or further contact during the training block is available based on an hourly fee.  Discounts to Power On Camps are included with Small Block Plans!!

Additional information on these plans and on monthly training plans is available on the Coaching Philosophy and Pricing page of this site.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm thankful for...

Had a wonderful weekend with some great riding in some of PA's best places with some great people.  A long ride taking on the Gaps in central PA the day after Turkey Day with one of my tri guys - Derek O - launched a little 3 day block of great riding that worked out being a pretty sweet mini-camp for coach. 

Derek is working his way through Naval EOD school and we've had to really manage his training around an absolutely crazy and very physically demanding schedule.  It has been a difficult year in that the opportunities to compete have been few and far between and that is not much fun for a guy on the 2016 development list.  2011 is looking a little better for getting back to the races and we're kicking off Derek's plan with some solid base work as the schedule is finally allowing for some volume.  I can't wait and am psyched we're going to be able to take the reins off and get back to bizness next year.

Saturday brought on a friggin' cold ride in Michaux State Forest where one of my newest athletes joined me to check out some course options for the Short Version of America's Longest Cyclocross Race, Iron Cross 0.5, 2011.  Joe Castle is coming on board through a new effort I'm launching - small block training plans in increments of 12-28 weeks that include an initial consult and result in a fully custom plan, but one that is "on your own" once delivered.  These allow me to develop fully custom personalized plans built around life and event demands for each individual.  They are perfect for athletes who don't feel they need access to the coach, but want something that is specific to their situation.  I personally prefer much greater contact with my athletes, but I realize that not everyone feels they need a high level of access - this delivers a fully custom built plan to that sort of athlete.  Joe and I spent a few hours talking about what he wants out of his training, which camps he'll be attending this coming spring - he's hoping to hit all three! - and a few other things as I contemplated what sort of sweet suffering I can put riders through in a single 50K lap next October 9.  I got some good ideas and we got in a nice 3.5 hours of wonderful Michaux riding.

Sunday was Trans-Sylvania Epic course recon with a ride on trails in consideration for the Queen Stage.  Looks like we have it locked down as Ray, Frank and I spent about 6 hours. 40 miles and 6000 vertical feet sorting it out.  We decided to get rid of some of that vert, but keep all the delicious singletrack.  One thing Frank and I have been talking about is getting Team IMBA involved in TSE this coming year and I'm hopeful to have some news on that front soon.  Team IMBA offers up some cool benefits to its members and if we can work it out TSE, TSE and associates camps, and TSE training plans may be some of those benefits.

Braden saving some for later

I hope your weekend was just as spectacular!

Monday, October 25, 2010

South Carolina Training Camp

Here is the first glimpse of the 2011 South Carolina training camp I'll be hosting in Traveler's Rest, SC in late Feb to March 1 next year.  Two years ago I made my way to Traveler's Rest with one of my athletes for my first camp in the area.  I found awesome roads and terrific weather that make the short drive south well worth the trip for those of us stuck here in the mid-Atlantic through the winter months!  Join me for anywhere from 3-6 days of sweet sweet riding around Greenville, SC.  We'll even be taking our own run at the 2009/2010 US Pro National Championship course on Paris Mountain during camp!  Here are the deets!

South Carolina Training Camp
Come join your fellow athletes and yours truly for a great training trip to the welcoming roads of South Carolina where late February will provide us great riding conditions and a superb early season training block.  Available to cyclists and multisport athletes for 3-6 days, the camp will give you a jump on early season competition, help set the stage for a fantastic 2011 campaign and offer up a needed and well earned break from the mid-Atlantic winter!  Great riding at a fantastic price for a week of training camp!

Dates Feb 24-March 1 (6 days, 5 nights) - Arrive Feb 23/24, Depart for home Mar 1

Lodging: Hampton Inn in Travelers Rest.  Rooms @ $80/night single, $40/night double

Dates Feb 24-March 1 (6 days, 5 nights) - Arrive Feb 23/24, Depart for home Mar 1
Lodging: Hampton Inn in Travelers Rest.  Rooms @ $80/night single, $40/night double
Camp fee:  Camp is available at the following rates for varied amounts of time.  My aim is to make the camp flexible in order to meet your time considerations and constraints.  This is a fantastic way to kick off the season whether you can attend just a few days or the whole camp!

Advance Rates:
3 days for $324 ($304 for coached athletes) - any three days
4 days for $394 ($364 for coached athletes) - any four days
5 days for $454 ($414 for coached athletes) - any five days
6 days for $494 ($454 for coached athletes) - the whole darn camp
Regular pricing will go into effect Jan 1; varies depending on camp duration

Late fees will go into effect Feb 15.

Day 1 - (Thu, Feb. 24) Travel to Travelers Rest* - Ride at 3:00 PM in Travelers Rest, basically until dark (bring blinking front and rear lights at minimum for the week).  We will traverse Paris Mountain, site of US Pro Championships in 2009 and 2010 at least twice today and maybe more.  It will be a great way to shake out the legs from the trip!

Day 2 - (Fri, Feb 25) Long ride to mountains; includes climbs to Ceasars Head State Park.  The Greenville area climb.  Great going up with sweet switchbacks and an awesome view at the top.   And of course those switchbacks make it lots of fun coming down!

Day 3 - (Sat. Feb 26)  Long ride north of town into some cool real estate along a lake or two with winding roads and good but not super long climbing.  It will be a beautiful day on wonderful roads and a little break from the vertical challenges the rest of the week!

Day 4 - (Sun, Feb 27) Long ride (are you catching on to the theme?) with awesome dirt road section north of Travelers Rest; ride includes descent of Ceasar’s Head.  This is my favorite Traveler’s Rest ride I’ve found so far.  It is beautiful and the climb was not so bad you were dying but you got in some good vert!  Plus it is includes some good road bike dirt.  Sounds perfect, no?

Day 5 - (Mon, Feb 28) Today after breakfast we’ll hop in the cars and drive toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We’ll spend the day climbing up to; riding along and descending back down from one of the most beautiful roads in America.  Plan to be away from the hotel for basically the entire day as we will likely return after dark.  Bring extra clothes and gear!

Day 6 - (Tue, Mar 1) Last day of camp.  Please plan departures for later in the day if you can as we will hit up a short ride early and take on Paris Mountain one last time before you all jet off for parts unknown ready to kick some serious butt in 2011!

During the week we’ll be sure to make a few trips to Greenville to sample some local flavor and relax in the excellent downtown.  Traveler’s Rest also offers several places to eat and a few convenient shops within a short drive/walk/ride. 

Throughout the week we'll have time to talk about cycling and multisports' multi-faceted challenges; from tactics to training to nutrition, mental prep and technologies like heart rate, power and gps, and more - we will chat about what you want to discuss!

*Travel Notes (for those in the mid-Atlantic)
Drive time from Allentown/Philly - 11 hours
Flight time as little as 2 hours (currently running approx $450 without shipping bike)
I will be driving down prior to camp and can take at least six bikes with me.  Round trip from my house in Bethlehem for the bikes is $50.  First come first served.
Distance from GSI airport to hotel is 20 miles
Travel from airport is not included.  If arrival and departures for athletes staying for the entire can be coordinated in such a way as to make pick up and drop off for a group feasible then we may be able to accommodate airport transportation.  For athletes choosing less than the full stay other travel arrangements to and from the airport will be needed.

Questions about camp or other coaching?  
Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Topping out on Everest (Challenge)

A little report from the ladies in CA about the two day Everest Challenge

"The conditions were rough - altitude was tough, temperatures were all over the place - we'd start at 40 and end the day at close to 100.  First day was mega - I had a hard time getting fluids in to begin coz of temp and the heights we were getting to and then paid for it big time at around mile 95 - cramps in leg muscles that I didn't know I had.  We'd planned to stick together for the first two climbs - and once we'd experienced the descents and realized that to be truely competitive we needed to practice descending on longer climbs than 2miles we decided to enjoy the experience rather than kill ourselves.  So - Rach was really strong on the last climb - all 20odd miles of it - it went on and on and on.  Really steep at the last mile or two .....but we  made it and man what a view when we got up there. Then of course we had to come down - it's amazing how far we climbed and I'm sure we shall be in forever shock that we made it up there.

day 2 - two 8 mile climbs - stepper than yesterday and we were awesome - reeling folk in and really strong - you'd have been proud - of course we then took breaks and long ones sometimes at the top to rehydrate and eat as didn't want the day 1's experience to happen again.  Rach had a slight melt down at climb 2 but then realized we only had one more climb to do.  But what a f'ing climb it was.  Up, up and away - 10,000feet  switchback, black top in the canyon and hot as heck, then more switchbacks that were mega steep - this time it was my time to encourage Rach - we were tough !!! We crossed the line together, attached at the hip the whole way !

Thanks to you Coach - we made it, survived it and felt really proud of ourselves coming from the east coast with no idea of what we were getting ourselves into .

What's next ?  Off season right ?  Let me know what you're thinking - guess I need to come up with some  goals.

Gotta work this sat so no mtb clinic for me but sounds like fun - will definitely be up for the training camps - April for sure will have to swing feb  but know it would be an awesome training week especially if I want to start of with Battenkill next year."

Thanks Ruthie for the quick wrap up and congrats to you and Rach for conquering Everest and making it through a long season to meet this goal.  What a crazy challenge (and one that I might have to try myself in the future as it sounds pretty awesome)  Yes, off season...but maybe Iron Cross first if we can find her a bike!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend Update 9.26

What a weekend.  Derek took a hell of a swing at Tri Nationals, Hebe swam and biked a long long way, Ruth and Rach climbed and climbed and climbed and Eric, Ken and Ed got dirty at Whirlybird.

Lots and lots of action this past weekend for my peeps.  Mike Hebe is well on track to his IM with a strong second place at last weekend's swim-bike IM distance and a stellar bike split. We have a handful of weeks left until Mike heads south for Cozumel and meshes some sun and sand with a bunch of swimming, riding and running.  He is on track for a great performance and we'll be using these last weeks to hone that form.

Derek took 3rd U23 at Tri Nats and did so with far less than ideal preparation with an injury just two weeks, but more importantly on the back of as demanding a military training school as exists anywhere at EOD school in FL.  Derek has basically put his training on hold as he finishes that training - which is not just time consuming but physically exhausting - and went as hard as he could at Nats.  He did great.  It is really frustrating for an athlete to be in a situation where training conditions are far less than ideal and to come out of that situation with a podium finish at Nats.  Nice work D.

'Cross racing is in full swing and more of the boys are jumping in, but learning some lessons about equipment prep.  Ed and Ken got roughed up by the bikes with both succumbing to wheel/tire issues while Eric battled it out with an eye on using the race as a hard training ride for Iron Cross coming up on 10/10/10.  IC prep will be the focus of one of the updates this week.

Ruthie and Rach climbed those 30,000 feet over two days out in CA.  More on that later as they are both still out in CA just kicking back and enjoying some well earned time off the bike. 

This weekend yours truly is leading a little MTB clinic at the nearby Jordan Park for a few riders pretty new to mountain biking.  We'll be working on the basics like steep climbs, descents, turning, riding small obstacles, etc. with the goal of making everyone more confident and faster by the end of the day. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Update

Big props to the boys at Charm City last weekend who both raced very well and are setting themselves up for great seasons.  I get to ride with one of them tomorrow, Ken D, on a little personal ride here in the Valley where we'll be putting the hurt on each other to keep his preparation building to the end of the season and can't wait to catch up more on the weekend's rassin'.  Mike F. left Baltimore with a 2nd and 7th in hand from the B Men's races over the weekend and should be sitting high in the early rankings for the MAC.  Neither of these seemingly brought me a custom made cake from Duff, but perhaps they're still filming that episode...

Yours truly got to spend Saturday getting beat up by Ruth D. and my new friend who I should have gotten to know more a long time ago Maria C. who made the trip up from Philly for Kuhndog's Wild Ride #1 and final prep before Ruth takes on the Everest Challenge out in CA this coming weekend.  Ruth is ready - she certainly looked it as she slapped me around all day on the 7000 feet of climbing we did north Bethlehem and luckily had Maria along for company as she topped out those climbs.  I couldn't let those two have all the fun though and found us some great dirt roads where I could let it rip a little...unless they went uphill.

Ruth's event this weekend is a two-day affair with 30,000 feet of elevation gain and climbs that last up to 22 miles!  I can't say I'd be too excited about all that climbing, but descending 30,000 feet or so sounds like an awesome time!  Ruth is one of several athletes in for some big riding and racing this weekend and those guys will be getting a shout out later this week!

The Kuhndog rides are lighting a fire under my butt to get back out and ride - and a few other people's butts, I'm happy to report, because that's the whole idea.  There's nothing like some incredible riding in beautiful places to make you want to ride more and more and more.  And do some skate skiing, but more on my other endurance sport love some other time!

Grit and Determination

How about the last few stages of the Vuelta??  Damn that was some good racing.  Give it up for the promoters for putting together a course that kept things fresh and interesting right up to the end and more importantly to the racers who beat each other and themselves to a pulp for three straight weeks for the show that was the 2010 Vuelta!  How great would it be if every stage race came down to the wire like this year's tour of Spain?

Gilbert, as has been said, is certainly showing he's on form for worlds.  The attack with three days left ripped the legs off everyone including one of the best sprinters in the world, who just happened to be sitting on his wheel and was unable to come around at the end which, of course, is what the best sprinters in the world are paid to do!  Impressive to say the least, but has he shown too much?  Will he be so well marked at world's it will be next to impossible to perform or could he again show such power that it won't even matter?  What is apparent is that he is going to go in to world's with a ton of confidence.  Often it is that belief in yourself that is the difference.  In fact you could argue that when everyone is equally prepared, peaked and ready to race that it is the mind that makes THE difference.  Those who know they can win are absolutely more likely to get the job done than those that think they might have a chance.

The battle between Mosquera and Nibali on the final climb of the Vuelta was certainly one that will go down in history as a famous duel.  In a world that is seemingly less influenced by doping mountain stages seem less likely to follow the script; huge acceleration to drop everyone 10k to go and a super human outlay of power from there to the finish to distance everyone.  That final climb was one of the most exciting I've ever seen and the way those two racer willed themselves up that climb was a phenomenal display of grit and determination.  From the tactical start to the climb that kept the group together until only 3.5 miles were left on the stage to Mosquera's accelerations on every steep pitch to Nibali's strength of mind to respond every time the grade slackened kept you on the edge of your seat.  The battle up that final climb seesawed with each seemingly having broken the other multiple times only to see the other react every single time and make another stand for victory.  Nibali's final surge that just caught Mosquera before the line came down to one thing - his mind overcame everything his body was saying, told it to shut the hell up, and chased down his adversary to leave no doubt he was the strongest man in this race.

We know the mind is a terrible thing to waste; it is also the most performance enhancing piece of equipment you will ever own.  Train your mind like you train your body and prepare to win.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Charmed, I'm sure

Got a couple guys starting the 'cross season well with Ken Deitch having one of the best 'cross races of his career last weekend and Mike Festa grabbing the B men's win at last weekend's Allentown UCI season opener.  They're both headed off to Charm City, Baltimore's two-day 'cross weekend, so here's to them both having a killer weekend.

Me, I'm headed out on the first of Kuhndog's Wild Rides tomorrow with my girl Ruth D. - everyone else bailed - but this is hopefully the first of many of these.  Ruth will be dragging me around the roads north of Bethlehem for a few hours tomorrow as we keep working on her preparation for the Everest Challenge out in CA later this month.  The Challenge is two days of long ass rides in big ass hills with total elevation gain at something like 30,000 feet over the two days.  We don't have those long CA sorta climbs here in PA so I put together a plan to make the best use of what we do have here to get her ready.  She's going to kill me tomorrow.

Working on Weaknesses

The TT in the Vuelta showed incredibly clearly just how important it is, no matter who you are, that it is important to work on your weaknesses.  We saw in the TT the overall leader - Rodriguez - not just lose time, but bleed so much time as to take himself completely out of the race for podium (barring a completely meltdown by one of the top 3 in the final few days). 

Someone like Rodriguez is not likely going to challenge for a TT win in most situations save for uphill TTs.  (First he's not a very big guy and while his power to weight ratio is ideal for climbs his power to frontal area is not as high as many of the guys he's competing with for the overall.  Think of it this way, a 5'10" rider, once into an aero position on his TT bike, is not much bigger than a 5'4" rider in aerobars from the front; the view the wind sees, especially a 5'10" rider with a good aero position.  A smaller lighter rider can produce less power than the bigger one and still be faster on a climb because of the significance of weight/gravity in climbing.  To stay close on the climbs the bigger rider has to be able to produce more power.   In a TT though - and the flatter and faster the TT - the more aerodynamics play a role.  In fact, in TTs aerodynamics and power are the keys.  The bigger rider with greater absolute power (as long as aerodynamics are similar or better) has the advantage in this situation.  You also have to be comfortable staying in that TT position and producing power in it.  If you don't ride in that position often you won't be at your best in it on race day.

Rodriguez didn't need to win the TT.  He just needed to keep himself close enough to Nibali to have a shot at taking time out of him again in the last climbing stage.  He didn't look as aero and he didn't look as smooth on the TT bike which is likely a result of not spending enough time on it.  He's a heck of a climber and was doing the smart thing of racing to his strengths by sticking it to the rest of the field on the climbs, but he gave up his chance to win the overall by not working enough on the weakness of TTing.

Find time to work on your weaknesses.  They may never turn into strengths, but don't let them be the anchor that holds you back from your greatest success.

Staying Up

I've been greatly enjoying the Universal Sports coverage of the Vuelta the past few weeks - and particularly watching my friend and former colleague Gogo doing a heck of a job commentating on the race.  Gogo and I worked together for a while when we were both working for Cadence Cycling and Multisport Center in Philly and it has been fun watching his progression as a commentator!

I digress.

The coverage has been great to chill out to while holding the new baby and while I've loved seeing Cav and Farrar go at it in the sprints with some surprise performances here and there from other sprinters and some great exploits in the mountains of Spain by guys like Schleck and Anton.  Unfortunately Anton left the Vuelta with a great lesson for all amateurs that you always have to stay alert; what a shame to have your shot at the win taken away by a crash like that. 

Years ago at a camp I attended run by Eddy B he reinforced over and over the necessity of keeping one's hands wrapped around the bars, not just resting on them.  If you hit something like a pothole or reflector or other road furniture with your hands just resting on the bars you're almost certain to go down, hard.  At the finish of a race I used to promote near Harrisburg (my buddy Zach is bringing it back - Rockville Bridge Cylcocross Classic) the winner of one of the races came across the line and threw his hands up in the air to celebrate the win.  As the final stretch was a gravel road he went down fast.  That's not the way to celebrate a win!  At a collegiate race years ago the A raced finished and as we hung out the the B race came to the line.  A promising freshman came sprinting in for the win and thrashed himself from side to side so hard that he actually crashed himself out of the race!

These sorts of crashes are preventable. It is quite possible Anton was attentive and holding on to the bike and still went down, but just making sure your thumbs are wrapped around the other side of the bar or levers from your fingers gives you a much better chance of pulling out of a crash if you do hit something with that front wheel that sends you askew!

Looking ahead when you're in a group and seeing what riders are doing ahead of you can help you avoid these situations in the first place.  Don't fixate on the wheel or two in front of you.  Keep looking down the road past the riders in front of you and ahead of the group (this is also how you know what is going on in the race and who is where so keep your head up)!  Avoid the obstacles in the first place.

Finally, know how your bike is going to handle in different conditions and situations.  Figure out how to ride on different surfaces.  Practice things like skidding and bumping other riders and rubbing wheels (in controlled and safe conditions) and learn how to ride the bike. 

And, don't take your hands off the bars at the end of your winning sprint on a gravel road!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Power On Coaching

Welcome to the virtual home of Power On Coaching, coaching for endurance sports like mountain biking, road cycling, cyclocross, and multisport competitions.  Whether your goals are to race at the professional level or survive your first century I'm here to help you reach and exceed your goals.  Here you'll find a little about me, how I approach coaching, my opinions on training and racing and some updates about my incredible athletes.