Racing and Riding in the Rain

Rain changes things, but it doesn't have to keep you off your bike. Coach Marianne shares some tips for those rainy days.

It's a Battle Out There: Using a Power Meter to Win

Bike racing is a game of the strong-willed and tough-minded. Hunter offers four tips to stack winning odds in your favor using your power meter.

Changing Your Mindset About Nervousness

Are you nervous before your big events? How do you deal with it? Hunter shares some tips to reprogram the way you think about nervousness and receive its energy in a positive way.

Three Common Racing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

It's hard to win. And in all our efforts to win, we make mistakes. Read about three of the common errors made in racing, plus tips on how to avoid them.

Race Strategies and Tactics

Hunter shares some race strategies and tactics to help you get to the top of the podium.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Week for PCG Athletes!!

Jen Ackeroyd- 1st Banana Belt Series final and overall series Winner & 2nd at the Piece of Cake Road Race 
Jen had a great weekend out in Oregon. On Saturday she took a hard earned 2nd place in the cold and wet and ironically named "Piece of Cake Road Race" which included 3.5 miles of gravel in each of the races 17 mile loops. The Women’s 123 field tackled 3 laps with attacks going on the gravel in each lap. In the end Jen and another rider came up just short of catching the loan leader but Jen opened her packet of sprint legs to beat her chase companion. Following Saturdays race, on Sunday Jen raced again in the Banana Belt Series final to take the WIN in the race and in the series overall. Jen attacked the small lead group in the Women’s 123 field to cross the line solo 4 second ahead of the sprint for second place. 
Peaks Coach:BJ Basham



Todd Baumeister - 8th at the Independence Valley Road Race
Todd got the timing of his final attack for the line in the Masters 40+ 4/5 event at the Independence Valley Road Race in Rochester Washington. Todd got swamped just meters from the line but held on for 8th overall. 

Peaks Coach: BJ Basham



Brian Sacawa - 12th at the Bethel Pro 123 Race
Brian made the best of the weekend after the Jefferson Cup Road Race was postponed due to expected snow. Brian made the drive to Bethel Connecticut where he worked hard for a great 12th in the Pro 123 race. 

Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Isaac Howe - Personal Best at the San Dimas Stage Race

Isaac was part of the hard working team that helped Ben Day repeat his victory at the San Dimas Stage Race in California. After Ben took the lead in Friday's uphill time trial, where Isaac took 90 second off his own personal best, the Kenda p/b 5 Hr Energy team patrolled the front for Saturday's rolling road race and Sunday's fast 6 corner crit keeping the pace high all day and neutralizing any dangerous attacks from the riders close on the GC. 

Peaks Coach: BJ Basham


Graham Long – 23rd overall at Marblehead Circuit Race

Graham started his racing season with a solid ride in the Marblehead Circuit Race in Massachusetts. Graham finished with a top 10 in the field sprint behind a break to finish 23rd overall.

Peaks Coach: BJ Basham




Louis Naes – 3rd at Hell’s Kitchen Road Race, St. Louis MO 
Louis Naes of St. Louis, MO took 3rd in a large Category 4 field at the Hell’s Kitchen Road Race on March 20 in Hogeye, AR. The race featured two ascents of the infamous 1.2 mile, 15% grade “Hell’s Kitchen Climb.” On the second lap two riders got off the front, and Naes lead a chase group to the line, winning the field sprint for third, and nearly catching the second rider. Peaks Coach: Randy Catron


Jeremy Larson- Personal Best by 30 min!

"Muddy and Wet! But I beat my previous time by over 30 minutes and had more stamina in the last 8 miles, which is the most technical." - Jeremy exclaimed 

Peaks Coach: Brig Brandt

Becky Smith – Personal Best at the Piece of Cake 10k, Oregon
 

Becky ran the Piece of Cake 10k, she has been working on her running and this race was in preparation for her upcoming 10 miler. All of her hard work is starting to pay off. This year’s race must have felt like a "Piece of Cake" to her, as she sliced off nearly 2 minutes from her last year’s time at this same race! Way to go Becky! 
Peaks Coach: Karen Mackin


Jeremiah Bishop - 2rd in the men's Pro XTC at Fontana CA 

Jeremiah took a strong second place podium spot at the mens Pro XTC.   
Peaks Coach: Hunter Allen


Sam Schultz - 3rd in the men's Pro XTC at Fontana CA 
Sam took 3rd just behind another Peaks athlete Jeremiah Bishop and also had a strong showing of 8th in the Short Track on Sunday. Two weeks ago at Bonelli Pro Series, Sam also got 8th in the Men’s pro XTC, 5th in the Super D, and 4th in the Short Track. 

Peaks Coach: Kristen Dieffenbach



Amanda Carey - 10th in the women's Pro XTC at Fontana CA 
Amanda got 10th on a tough course at the women’s Pro XTC. At the Bonelli Pro Series, two weeks ago Amanda placed 8th in the women’s pro XTC.

Peaks Coach: Kristen Dieffenbach



Colin Carey - 2nd at the Classico Mountain Florida
Colin took 2nd at a C2 UCI race in Costa Rico at the Classico Mountain Florida

Peak Coach: Kristen Dieffenbach 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PEAKS ATHLETES finish STRONG at US Pro XCT Fontana

Bishop and Schultz were 2nd and 3rd respectively!!

Jeremiah Bishop (Hunter Allen–coach) finished 2nd  and Sam Schultz (Kristen Dieffenbach-Peaks coach) finished 3rd in the Elite mens cross country US Pro XCT in Fontana CA on Sat. March 26th.

The new course at Fontana proved to be much more difficult than in past years. The mountain climb was made twice as long and riders were calling it the BEAST. Bishop looked strong early leading up the mountain on the first few laps, but winner Max Plaxton hammered up the mountain on the third lap and took the lead and won the race.

Bishop gave praise to Max Plaxton "Max was definitely really strong. He came around me right at the top. He was riding full suspension. I was riding a hardtail. He definitely had the course dialed. He was the fastest on the descents - flowing and saving a lot of energy. I was glad that I pulled together a clean race and salvaged a great result."

On Sunday, also at the Pro XTC, both Bishop and Schultz finished in the top 10 in the Elite Mens Short Track, Bishop in 6th and Schultz in 8th.   

Another Peaks athlete Amanda Carey (Kristen Dieffenbach- Peaks Coach) placed 10th in the Elite Womens Cross Country, Pro XTC at Fontana CA.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Intervals: Why Do We Use Them? by Stephen McGregor, PhD

When I was a wee lad, I played soccer in high school.  My coach at the time was a conditioning freak and used to make us run intervals…a lot.  We would do Indian runs, or suicides, or half-mile intervals etc.  We would run as hard as we could until we thought we were going to puke, then, between drills, my teammates and I would curse the coach, and ask ourselves, “Why are we doing these?”  We never really got a satisfactory answer, so we just kept on doing what we were told.  Later, I became interested in cycling, and when I learned about the training for this sport, to my horror, I found that many coaches recommended intervals in cycling as well.  Again, I asked myself, “Why are we doing these?”

Most coaches prescribe intervals, and similarly, many athletes perform intervals, but often times, it is not clear why.  In particular, the athlete may not be aware of what the intended objective of the interval training, and may just be “doing what I’m told”.  Is the goal of performing intervals simply to make the athlete “tougher” and more resilient?  Are they simply being done to mimic the high intensity repeated efforts of racing, or are there specific physiological adaptation sought after by using intervals in training?  Is there more to performing intervals than just being able to go “as hard as you can” for 2, 5, or 10 min?  Are some intervals better than others, i.e., is there a reason to perform 2 minute intervals over 10 minute intervals?  This may seem like a lot of questions, but they should be addressed before a coach, or the athlete, embarks on a period of interval training.  By addressing the ultimate objective of the interval training approach, the athlete may be more likely to give everything required in the efforts.  Further, consideration of the intervals being used, and how they relate to racing objectives, may help eliminate potentially irrelevant training approaches.

Exercise Physiology tells us there are three primary principles of training: specificity, overload and reversibility.  Intervals can be used to address the first principle, by mimicking the demands of a particular event.  This may be the most common reason most athletes perform intervals.  For example, if the athlete is training for the pursuit on the track, and it is anticipated that the event will require a 5 minute all out effort; in preparation, the athlete may perform 5 min intervals.  In this case though, the training is being used for a very tangible purpose.  The athlete can clearly see, “I will need to go as hard I can for 5 min, so, I will train as hard as I can for 5 min.”
The second principle, overload, can also be addressed through the use of intervals.  If an athlete needs to perform sustainable efforts of 10 min within the context of their event, they can perform efforts in a progressive overload fashion that build from 5, 6, 7 up to 10 min, or more in duration.  Using intervals, progressive overload of duration (or even power if using power meter) can be applied in a very specific manner.  Finally, the third principle can be addressed by not performing intervals.  To paraphrase one of my graduate professors, “Use it or lose it baby!”
Another, less tangible way to use intervals is not necessarily to address specific effort durations of an upcoming event, but within the larger context of the overall training program, to target specific physiological adaptations that will result in improved performance at a later date.  In this, I mean that certain intervals can be used to specifically target adaptations resulting in improved VO2max, whereas others may be more likely to elicit adaptations to the lactate threshold.  Moreover, certain intervals are effective at raising one’s anaerobic capacity or neuromuscular fitness.  As we all should be aware, the long term goals of most competitive cyclists should be to raise their VO2max, LT power, and for some disciplines, anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular fitness.  Once these objectives have been attained, the specific needs of a given event may be targeted.

It is not simply the duration of a given interval that results in such adaptations, but the manner in which the interval is performed at a given intensity.  In other words, an interval may not need to be performed “as hard as you can” to target the desired adaptation.  It may be better to perform at a given percentage of VO2max, for a given duration (neither of which may be maximal), which induces an overload, but it’s not unduly stressful.  Also, depending on how an interval is performed for a given duration, say 3 min, the adaptation may be more anaerobic or aerobic, and vice versa; all 3 min intervals are not created equal.  Therefore, knowledge of the physiological responses of various interval approaches will provide the coach and/or athlete with information to most effectively use intervals to not only target specific needs of a given event, but the physiological adaptations that will ultimately result in improvement as a cyclist.  So, in the end, the athlete should not be asking themselves, “Why am I doing these?”, but should be able to emphatically state, “I am using these intervals to improve my______”.

Stephen McGregor has a PhD. In Exercise Physiology and is the Director of the Applied Physiology Laboratory at Eastern Michigan University.  Stephen had a successful career as a category I cyclist and is a veteran PCG Master level coach.  To find out more about Stephen and the services he offers; please visit his bio at www.peakscoachinggroup.com.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Week for more PCG Athletes!

Todd Baumeister took FIRST in the 45+ 4/5 field at the Skagit Valley TT in Washington State.  Even with slowly flattening rear tire Todd still managed to take first in his cat with the 12 best time overall. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Rob Sheffield scored some more points toward his Cat 1 upgrade by finishing 4th in the Cat 123 event at the Blackhills Circuit Race in Maryland. Rob was part of the winning 7 man break and along with his teammate was one of the first non-professional riders to finish.  Rob made the trip the next day down to the Richmond International Race way for the RIR Crit where he scored another top 10 with a well earned 9th place in the Cat 123 race.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Brian Sacawa also took home some upgrade points finishing 6th in the Cat 123 event at the Blackhills Circuit Race in Maryland.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Jen Akeroyd raced with the Cat 3 men in the soggy Willimetta Cup Criterium in Portland finishing in a solid 6th place. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Mykel Nahorniak was active and worked hard to overcome a poor start on a tight course at the Blackhills Circuit Race in Maryland finishing a strong 8th place in a crowded sprint to the line in the Cat 4/5 race.
 Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Tony Abate got a few more points toward his step up to the Cat 2 ranks as he scored a super strong 2nd place in the Cat 3/4 field at the Blackhills Circuit Race in Maryland.
Peaks Coach:BJ Basham 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peaks Coaching Group’s Athletes: Father and Son take Victories!

Mike Rickey- 1st Place Masters Perry Road Race, Perry Kansas
Mike Rickey took first place in the masters 40+ Perry Road race in Perry Kansas. It was a 30 mile race, with 6 laps of a 5 mile loop. Road Conditions were good but 20 + mile an hour winds.  There was one substantial climb on every lap with the race finishing at the top of the last climb (5%).  When asked about the race Mike replied “I felt good and attacked on the last climb for 1st place” and to top off the day Mike continued, “My son won 1st in the floor and vault and 2nd overall at the State gymnastics Championship!
Peaks Coach: Bill McLaughlin


Fred Williams -
Marathoner takes on the 5k
Fred Williams did his first ever 5k race on March 13, 2011 at the Ras na hEireann USA.  Being somewhat of a "Long" distance racer (with two marathons under his belt) he was shocked at how high his heart rate could get when running all out.  He really enjoyed the race and was pleasantly surprised at the speed he was able to churn out!  In addition, the race proved his threshold running pace was faster than we had estimated based solely on his long races.  Congratulations Fred!  
Peaks Coach: Karen Mackin


The Peaks Coaching Group family sends our thoughts and prayers to Peaks athlete Alexandra Danforth.  Bill McLaughlin’s athlete Alexandra Danforth was struck by a car while training in Florida. Bill replies, "I do not know the extent of the crash as she was still in the hospital waiting on a CT of her head.” All our positive energies are going your way Alexandra.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What is a Match?

By Hunter Allen

A "match" is an elusive term used by riders, and coaches within the bike racing world. When you burn a match, you have done a hard effort. It's an effort that in which you had to dig deep, or you had to really push yourself. Any bike racer knows what it feels like to have burned a match, but until now, no one has really tried to quantify a match.

Why do you need to know what a match is? Well, you as a rider start out the day with a full set of matches in your matchbook, but every time you go hard, do an attack, have to hammer over a hill, you burn one of your matches. All of us have different size matchbooks, but nobody has an infinite number, so it's important to burn your matches at the right time during a race or in training. Otherwise you are left with an empty matchbook and then your chances of performing well have been drastically reduced. Burn all your matches before the end of the race and it's doubtful you will win. Indeed, I propose that not only is it doubtful that you will win, but it's certain that you won't win.

So, your goals are fourfold: figure out what exactly is a match to you, figure out the size of your matchbook, try to increase the number of matches you have, and then burn your matches at the right time in the race in order to optimize your chances for success.

As a starting point, I propose that for most riders and racers, a match can be defined as an effort in which you go over threshold power by at least 20% and hold it there for at least one minute. Of course, burning the proverbial match could involve an effort longer than 1 minute, but as the time period gets longer that you are burning a match, the % above your threshold power would be lower. The chart below begins to take a stab at defining a match for different time periods. Before you read this, remember that there is no exact definition of match, I am just introducing this concept quantitatively so that riders can refine it for themselves, and illustrating how TrainingPeaks' WKO+ can really help with that.

Now that you have a general idea of what a match is, you need to figure out how many matches you have at your disposal. The only way that I know to do this is to do a super hard training ride in which you have pre-planned matches that you are going to burn, or to do a really tough race with lots of match burning! The great thing is that you know based on your rating of perceived exertion and also your rate of exhaustion, when you burned a match and when you are out of matches! So listen to your body here and then go back through your downloaded data to find all of your matches.

This is where TrainingPeaks WKO+ can help you. By using the "Fast Find" feature under the Edit button, you are able to enter some parameters in order to find those matches. Let's assume that your threshold power is 300 watts. So, take 120% of 300 watts, which is 360 watts and enter that into the leading edge. Then take 300 watts and enter that in as your trailing edge, since you are still going hard at that point. Then select 1 minute as the minimum duration and then 5 minutes as the maximum duration. 

Now, once this is done, all of your matches will be highlighted. You can then review the graph of your ride to put significance to each match by typing in the ranges text area, some description about that match. For example: Hard attack on hill, or prime sprint, etc. Or you could just simply label each "Find" as a match and then use the linking button to link them all together.

I have also used another way of viewing a match. I placed a gridline at 400 watts (this rider's threshold power), and then I placed another gridline at 480 watts (120% of his threshold power). So you can visually scan through the graph and look at any area that is above the 480 gridline. These are definite matches. The space under the yellow line (watts), but above the 400 watts line is the time spent burning a match. Any significant time spent above 480 watts is like sending up a flare!

Now that you know what your matches are, and how many you have before you are "cooked," you can go about changing your training in order to increase the size of your matchbook and also increase the intensity of the flame from each match. At the same time, by using a power meter in a race, you can review the data post mortem and determine if you spent too many matches in the beginning of the race or if you spent them at the correct time to optimize your chances for success. This is one of the great benefits of racing with a power meter. It allows to see objectively, if you raced tactically correct. At the same time, you can now begin to develop a better training plan based around your weaknesses (amount of matches and intensity of the flame), in order to better "toast" your competition.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Peaks Coaching Group Athletes Step Up to the Podium!

Jeremiah Bishop – 1st US Pro XCT Bonelli Park, California
Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) took the win at the opening round of the US Pro XCT in Bonelli Park in California. He won the first major American cross country race of the season. The men's pro race was nothing short of a barn burner with over 80 men on the start line. Bishop came from behind after dropping a chain in the third lap, then after multiple position changes on the exciting final lap, Bishop punched up a steep climb to take the lead and the win!  Peaks Coach: Hunter Allen


Siong Hing 4th at Ironman New Zealand

Despite less than ideal weather conditions, Siong Hing finished his 4th Ironman Event on March 5th 2011 at Ironman New Zealand. Throughout the day, he and the rest of the Ironman athletes were tormented by rain and relentless winds. Despite being shy of his goal time, he felt that he finished the race in better shape than his previous two Ironman events. When asked how he felt immediately after the race he said he "Felt too good to have completed an Ironman... I didn't qualify for a bed in the medical tent." 
Peaks Coach:Karen Mackin


Jen Ackeroyd- 1st Place at the Banana Boat Race Series

Jen Akeroyd opened her account of wins for 2011 with a great victory in the Banana Boat Race #2. This puts Jen on her way toward defending her overall series win in the Oregon Cup.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham


Todd Baumeister – 4th Mason Lake Road Race

Todd Baumeister moved up a few places from his great 7th place in last weeks Mason Lake Road Race #1 to finish 4th this week in the Mason Lake Road Race #2. I think there is a win in Todds future.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham



Lee Shuemaker- 7th Place Central Coast Circuit Race

Lee Shuemaker keeps racking up the top ten finishes as he scored a 7th place in the Central Coast Circuit Race #3 this week. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham


Dave Guttenplan- Rutas de America

Dave Guttenplan lead his Chemstar team in the Rutas de America. Dave scored three top 20 finishes and picked up some great international experience in the 6 day UCI 2.2 category stage race in Uruguay. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham


Tom Soladay – Murrieta Stage Race

Tom Soladay kept the streak alive by finishing the Murrieta Stage Race even making it into the winning break on the final day. This shows that even though Tom lost a season of racing, he still has the drive of a bike racer. Once the legs return, he will be back where he was at the end of 2009.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peaks Athletes Shine at US Pro XCT Opener: Jeremiah Bishop Wins & Sam Schultz Takes 8th





Bishop takes victory on final lap, Plaxton, Wells round out top three
By: Ty Kady



Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) took the win at the opening round of the US Pro XCT in Bonelli Park in California, on Saturday afternoon. He won the first major American cross country race of the season ahead of Max Plaxton (Specialized) and Todd Wells (Specialized).

Sid Taberlay (Kenda/H2O Overdrive) looked like the man to beat until the very last lap, when Bishop caught him and took over the lead. Taberlay was spent and after Bishop sped past, and Plaxton and Wells got by him, too.

"My training has been going really well this winter. I knew I still had the gas to do cross country efforts after the sensations I had at the Ice Man [Cometh] late last year," said Bishop.

The men's pro race was nothing short of a barn burner with over 80 men on the start line. The last lap proved to be a wild one, with multiple position changes that left the scoreboard turned upside down.

Taberlay had what looked like an insurmountable lead, but it wasn't to be after the Australian came "unglued" on the last lap and was swallowed up by a rejuvenated Bishop, Plaxton and Wells, who all closed over a minute on Taberlay in the last lap.

In the end, it was surprise winner Bishop who took the win.



How it unfolded:

Early on the first lap, it was Todd Wells, followed by Sid Taberlay, Max Plaxton, Jeremiah Bishop, Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain/Maxxis) and 75 other men. The togetherness didn't last long as Australian Sid Taberlay, coming off a summer season Down Under, quickly went to the front and set a blistering pace.

For the next six laps, Taberlay put on a clinic as he put time on North America's best riders, slicing the Bonelli course apart.

Bishop and Wells were in hot pursuit with Plaxton, and others in tow. Taberlay appeared to be on a mission as he put time on the leaders every lap.

With Taberlay off the front, it was a see-saw battle between Wells, Bishop, Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain), Plaxton, Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) and Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain).

On lap three, Bishop dropped a chain and lost contact with the main chase group.

Then on lap four, Plaxton suffered a flat and dropped off the group, while Bishop slowly clawed his way back onto the chase group.

Out front, Taberlay was on autopilot and looked to have the race in the bag with over a minute lead; however that would soon change.

Behind Taberlay, Bishop was back on the train with Wells, Kabush, and Gagne. Plaxton passed Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant), and Gagne and the others were trying to get into the chase group.

And then all hell broke loose. Heading into the last lap, everything changed. Wells surrendered his second place to Bishop, who was riding out of his skin. And to everyone's surprise, Bishop went off solo in search of Taberlay.

Behind him, Wells was about to be caught his new teammate Plaxton, who was laying down the gauntlet in an effort to get back on.

Kabush faltered and was slipped back off the chase group, while teammate Gagne was making a surge of his own now closing in on fifth.

Bishop had Taberlay in sight on the course's first climb and by the time they reached the rocky descent, Bishop was all over the Aussie. On the second bridge crossing, Bishop punched it up a steep climb to take the lead before heading into the new pro section.

"I just never gave up and took matters into my own hands," said Bishop, who complimented the US Cup on this year's Bonelli Park course. The things they added compared to last year made this a first class venue and a real cross country course."

From that point on the Harrisonburg, Virginia resident rode comfortably in the race lead, and took a 20-second win. This was Bishop's first national cross country win since Sugar Mountain in North Carolina many years ago.

Plaxton made an attack on the last climb of the day to secure second over Specialized teammate Wells.

"I was feeling good out there until about two to go," said Wells. "This course is deceiving and takes its toll on you lap after lap. But it's early in the season, and a top three was a good start."

"I was up there early on and was feeling super smooth on my S-Works Epic," said Plaxton. "I liked the course and the more technical sections suited me well. But I flatted on lap four, I think, and spent the rest of the time suffering to get back on. That last lap was weird as it all came back together after Sid had issues."

Taberlay kept it together to hold on for fourth after leading the whole day, while 24-year-old Canadian Gagne rounded out the top five.

Kabush, Horgan-Kobelski, Schultz, Craig and Stephen Ettinger (BMC) filled the fifth through 10th places.

Next up is the super D followed by the short track on Sunday. The best two scores on the weekend will determine the weekend's Pro Triple Crown All Mountain winner.
Full Results


Elite Men Results:

1 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Cannondale 1:40:15
2 Max Plaxton (Can) Specialized 0:00:19
3 Todd Wells (USA) Specialized 0:00:24
4 Sid Taberlay (Aus) Kenda/H2O Overdrive 0:01:12
5 Raphael Gagne (Can) Rocky Mountain 0:02:04
6 Geoff Kabush (Can) Rocky Mountain 0:02:13
7 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Trek 0:02:37
8 Samuel Schultz (USA) Subaru-Trek 0:03:12
9 Adam Craig (USA) Rabobank/Giant 0:03:48
10 Stephen Ettinger (USA) BMC Development Team 0:04:04
11 Troy Wells (USA)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Forget Your Tools!

With all of the great advances in power, and the guidance of knowledgeable Peaks Coaching Group coaches, you have set some goals and have a plan on how to achieve them. GREAT! You hit the road, or trainer, daily and you train hard. You rest hard. You are doing everything right.  You have pictured yourself winning, or having a great personal performance. You have seen yourself getting over the big climbs with a lot of power in your legs, feeling strong. You have felt yourself at top speed.

Your goal?  Perhaps it is that you line up on the start line this year with confidence that you have put in the work and you have some top performances.  Perhaps it is that you feel prepared for your Grand Fondo, or to feel prepared for the weekend local group ride. Confidence is half the battle in reaching your goals. And these training and mental tools can help you to gain a lot of confidence when used properly. The question is….what other tools can you use to build your confidence?

A tool that is often left out of the toolbox for athletes is their nutrition.  Let me ask you;  if you had a beautiful car, with a top notch engine, lots of power, acceleration, and speed…and the tank was getting really empty while cruising on the highway….would you just keep driving it until it ran out of gas and stalled? NO! And you KNOW that your car needs fuel in order to use all of that power and speed it has. YOUR BODY IS THE SAME.

To add to your confidence on the line, yes, you do all the physical training and get the rest. But you also need fuel your body properly.

I believe part of having a mental advantage on the line is knowing that you have done EVERYTHING YOU COULD IN YOUR POWER to be the best athlete you can be on that day. And everything includes fueling your body properly, training and working on your mind.

Imagine the extra confidence you have if you KNOW that your breakfast has gotten you through many hard rides and races like the one you are lining up for? Imagine that you KNOW you have exactly what you need in your bottles and pockets for the race/ride because you have tried and tested it? Imagine that you know what you have been eating day in and day out has your glycogen stores topped up and you are not worried about running out of energy? NOW THAT…IS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE!

The less worries you have when you roll up to the start of that club ride, race, Grand Fondo , the better of you are! You want to roll to the start with the most possible preparation. Tried and tested nutrition and training. Not with questions running through your mind such as “should I grab another gel? Did I eat enough for breakfast? Am I hydrated?”  This is not the time for doubts and questioning. This is the time to PERFORM.

The difference lining up for an event with half a tank or a full tank of gas could easily be the difference between winning or not. The difference in staying hydrated during an event on a hot day could be the difference between cramping and pulling out, or finishing strong while your competition suffers. The difference of having the kick in the last 5km or watching the pack ride away from you, could easily be from running low on fuel. But this is all in your control, if you make it part of the grand plan. Part of your tool box.

So as you prepare for an amazing 2011, be sure to get on top of your sport nutrition! Get the extra edge over the competition by arriving at the line with a full tool box….sharpened and ready to perform at your absolute best!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Peaks Athletes Shine in the Early Season Races

Todd Baumeister - 1st Place at the Ice Breaker TT!!!
Todd scored his first victory of the season with a win in the 45+ group at the Ice Breaker TT. He followed that up the next day with a great 9th place in the Mason Lake RR. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Jen Ackeroyd- 3rd Place at the Banana Boat Race Series
Jen scored her first top placing with a great 3rd in the second race in the Banana Boat race series in Oregon. Jen traded attacks to setup the winning move by here teammate before attacking the field taking only one rider with her. 
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Nick Friesen – 5th Place at Tumacocori Road Race
Nick started his 2011 racing season at the Tumacocori Road Race in Arizona. Nick finished 5th after attacking early and then having to work hard to bring back a late counter attack on the climb. A good start to the racing for Nick with tactics being the biggest factor in this weeks results.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Tom Soladay – Merco Cycling Classic Stage Race 62 in the GC out of 120 starters
And a big Welcome Back to Tom Soladay who did a great job of doing more than just surviving the Merco Cycling Classic Stage Race in California. Tom is on the way back from missing the entire 2010 season to illness. This is Tom's first race in over 18 months and apparently he still remembers how to race his bike finishing each day better than the one before to finish 62 on GC out of over 120 starters and he was about spend some time on the front for his team in the final stage. Great job Tom.
Peaks Coach: BJ Basham

Alexandra Danforth - 3rd in Webster Roubaix
After surgery last fall on her foot, Alex came storming back and got 3rd at one of Florida’s toughest races ….a 9 mile circuit that has 2 ½ miles of hard packed dirt each lap…4 laps and 36 miles Alex hung tough and finished strong! 
Peaks Coach: Bill McLaughlin

Monday, March 7, 2011

How badly do you want that donut?

By Brig Brandt, Peaks Coaching Group

Cyclists are known weight weenies, often spending thousands of dollars to save a pound or two off the bike. But how big is the weight penalty? What’s faster, a bike that’s two pounds lighter or a 10 watt increase in threshold power? Armed with a power meter, a steep climb, and twelve pounds of water I set out to answer some questions.

Before heading up my local (and much shorter) Alpe d’ Huez I weighed the total mass (me, bike, and clothing) I would be carrying up the hill both with and without the extra bottles. My two different weights were 184.5 pounds and 172.75 pounds. I climbed twice with each weight and I maintained (to the best of my ability) the same speed, letting wattage vary.

Obviously, because speed was maintained my times were nearly identical; approximately 5:15. However, the power output was very different: 346 average watts with the water, 311 watts without. So the 12 extra pounds required about 10% more power output.

How significant is that 30 watts? Like many things, it depends. If a rider can put out those 30 extra watts but has to exceed his threshold power to do so, then the increased power output will come at significant cost. However, if the rider can meet the increased power demand without exceeding threshold power, that is, without “burning a match,”  it will be of little cost (at least on a short climb).

A steep and sustained climb is the ideal environment to illustrate the power to weight concept, but not all (perhaps most) races have hilltop finishes. Nevertheless, for most of us losing a few extra pounds will pay big dividends in all race situations, because most races will include accelerations or climbs somewhere on the course. Getting over these climbs with less power means fewer matches burned for later in the race. If an athlete can lose weight without compromising power output then there will almost always be an increase in performance, regardless of the course profile.

Is there ever a trade off? If a rider keeps losing weight (and presumably some lean muscle mass, i.e. power) will he still climb faster? It simply depends on how much weight is lost and how much less powerful the cyclist is. An already lean cyclist should be very careful when trying to lose weight and should consult a nutritionist before embarking on any nutritional program. Underweight athletes are prone to long list of health problems.

There are three ways to improve your climbing: Increase threshold power, lose weight, or a combination of the two. Increasing threshold power is arguably the most effective method, as it will also translate into increased power on flat terrain and Time Trials. A rider who is carrying excess fat can also improve climbing by losing weight. However, a rider who is already lean will likely lose some lean muscle (and therefore power) if he tries to lose more weight, and this loss in power could trump the benefit of lost weight.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quarq and Peaks Coaching Group TEAM UP!

PRESS RELEASE:
Bedford, Va, USA – March 1st, 2011 - Peaks Coaching Group and Quarq Technology have joined forces in 2011 to make it easier for athletes of all abilities to train and race with power meters.

“It’s an exciting partnership because we are working with the best!” states Hunter Allen, founder of Peaks Coaching Group and co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”, “Peaks Coaching Group is the leader in power training, our coaches have been training, racing and coaching with power for years and fully understand how to maximize our athletes’ results through the use of power training and power meters. The ability to sell the Quarq CinQo Saturn will allow us to introduce even more athletes to the benefits and efficiency of power training.” 

Peaks Coaches, who are already leaders in power training, are going to receive specific training on Quarq CinQo Saturn set-up and use from the best in the business: Quarq’s founder Jim Meyer.  Jim will be leading sessions on the CinQo Saturn power meter at the Peaks Annual Coaches Summit in May.

“Hunter has been a good friend of Quarq from the beginning and it’s only natural that we work together,” said Quarq’s Jim Meyer.  “With the experience of Peaks’ coaches and the reliability of Quarq powermeters, athletes have everything they need to achieve their athletic dreams.  All that remains is the hard work!”

Cyclists and triathletes can immediately begin to benefit from this partnership as Quarq CinQo Saturn powermeters will be available for demo at all Peaks Coaching Group Camps.  “We see this as an important step in helping athletes try power training before buying” continues Allen, “often athletes hold off on purchasing a powermeter as they fear the start-up of the technology, well now, at our camps, Quarq will handle the installation and Peaks will handle the education”

Quarq Technology was founded in 2006 and designs, builds and sells athlete data systems.  Quarq produces CinQo Saturn powermeters at its factory in Spearfish, South Dakota.  Quarq’s open source software, quarqd, reads ANT+ device data.  Quarq is about to release Qalvin, a mobile application for advanced powermeter diagnostics and calibration .




For more information, contact:
Kathy Watts
717.515.1385

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Power of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Power

By Hunter Allen

This winter I had the opportunity to travel the USA on a book signing and speaking tour, which is always a great time as it gives me a unique insight into how different each area of our beautiful country is.  The people of this country are also so very different and each brings their own perspective to cycling, power training and endurance sports.  We are similar though in that we have strengths and weaknesses, are limited in our training time, respond somewhat similarly to training stimuli and all want to improve.  These similiarities are the key reasons why training with a power meter can help us to improve our cycling.  In my travels, I have met pro road cyclists, track athletes, ultra endurance mountain bikers, triathletes, recreational riders and many others,  each asking me questions about they can best use their power meter to optimize their training time, optimize their chronic training load and also optimize their individual intervals as well.   The knowledge of using a power meter for optimization is one of the top asked questions that I get at my seminars and book signings.   Sure, everyone wants to hear about this pro or that pro and see how to analyze their power file in the TrainingPeaks WKO+ software, but the general theme is always around optimization.                         


Optimize your training time

After you have a power meter for at least  six to eight months, you have plenty of data to review in order to find trends based on the training response to your training dose.   We each have limited time to train and a certain point, you have to make sure that you are focused during those key training hours on your best and highest use of time.  First you need to make sure you understand what exactly is your best and highest use and that comes from having clear goals combined with a very honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.   I wish I was a better climber, but I am not. I am a great all-arounder that win road races, crits and the occasional time trial with a very high anaerobic capacity which allows me to do the best in the hardest of hard criteriums.  Knowing this and being honest with myself will then give me the confidence to make a few goals which support my unique abilities.  Only after I have made those goals, correctly meshed them with my abilities will I be able to optimize my training time.  In my example, I have picked a couple of road races that are hilly and long, along with two hard criteriums all within a four week span which gives me the best chance at doing well in at least one of them.  For me, the limiter will be on muscular endurance in the road races as I tend to get cramps during a hard road race that’s longer than 75miles and in the criteriums, I’ll need my sprint as sharp as possible in case I want to win a few premes.   Generally though, I’ll need the highest FTP I can possibly achieve and also optimize my ‘repeatability’ for shorter anaerobic efforts which I excel in, but the key will be having the repeatability to attack over and over.  Doesn’t everyone want to have those two general abilities? Which is a good point to think about as you plan your training time, since winning races has a lot to do with your FTP and if your FTP is higher than the rest of the peloton, it makes it much easier to create a winning opportunity, therefore always make training your FTP the core of any training program.   

Now that I have defined the components of success for my goals, I can divide our training appropriately into the limited time that I have to train, which is about 12 hours a week.   Of those 12 hours, I will want to spend at least 3 hours focusing on improving my FTP, and I’ll do this mainly with intervals in the sweetspot range with one focused workout right at my threshold power or a touch above and spread throughout 2-3 workouts in the week.   Then I’ll want one workout during the week, to focus on my anaerobic capacity and the amount of time at anaerobic capacity won’t be that long (maybe 25 minutes total),  but the strain will be high.  Finally I’ll want to do a sprint workout as well, but I am going to incorporate it into my Saturday weekend ride and do the sprints early in the ride when I am freshest and can create the most watts during the sprints.  The rest of the Saturday ride will be endurance and sweet spot and I am going to burn 4 hours of my available 10 hours on this Saturday ride in order to stress my muscular endurance and really fatigue my legs. Sunday will be as many hours as I have left to play with(probably about  2)  and I’ll make sure to do some climbing or riding in my time trial position at endurance and tempo pace to just get in the time. 

As you have read, meshing your goals with your strengths and weaknesses provides the foundation from which you can optimize your training time best suited to your goals.   Let’s look at how we now optimize your chronic training load over the next few months in order to make sure you achieve the perfect balance of fitness and freshness.


Optimize Chronic Training Load

Chronic training load(CTL) is defined by all of the workouts that you have done in the last 6 weeks and the last 6 weeks of training is what drives your current fitness.   Of course, the hard work you did last season and in the last 6 months provides you with the foundation of fitness from which you build upon, but ultimately your current fitness has been built from all your workouts in the last 6 weeks.  This is an important concept to understand and review on a regular basis as what you do today and this week, ‘drives’ your CTL(and fitness) 6 weeks from now. Ultimately though, you want to optimize your training over every 6 weeks’  period which means planning for your hardest week, planning in the proper amount of rest, planning for your maintenance weeks, etc.  The critical things you need to consider are: 1) building your training load up in a rational manner, ie.- don’t do too much too soon.  2) make sure that have enough new training load so that you prevent training stagnation. Eventually you’ll stop adapting to your current training load and need additional stimulus to create further improvement.  3) allowing for the proper amount of rest in order to create a peak of fitness when you want to have it.  Each person is a little different in exactly how much rest they need in order to create enough freshness for a peak performance.    With these rules in mind, lets come back to my example in which I am training to peak for a solid four weekends of hard racing.  When we consider these goals, we can work backwards so that I create the most fitness possible during those weeks.   

For me, I have found with my athletes and myself, that a rest week needs to be planned in two weeks(weeks 5 &6) before that “A” race in order to create enough freshness the week before the race week, so I can hone and sharpen my abilities for the race.   Many people like to rest the week before their “A” race, but I have found that it’s not as effective for myself n or my athletes, as while you do indeed gain the freshness needed in most cases, you also can become stale and lose a bit of mental confidence because the legs don’t feel as good as you think they should.  Starting your rest week two weeks before your “A” race, allows you to still race on the weekend without having to worry about your performance  and having stale legs.   The week before your “A” race,(week 6) you can do a few tune-up workouts, which are shorter workouts emphasizing higher intensity and then plan a final taper for 3 days before your big race.  With these two final weeks planned out, that means working backwards again and making weeks 3 & 4 some of the hardest weeks of your final training block.  You will need to make them about 15-20% harder than any of the weeks preceding them.  Increase both your volume and your intensity during these two weeks and dig deep in each workout.  You will be tired, sore, complaining to anyone who will listen and ready to stop, but you have to push through these final two weeks. We continue to work backwards from weeks 3 & 4 and come to weeks 1 & 2 which represent ‘the beginning of the end’ or the start of your chronic training load before your “A” race.  This makes week 1 & 2 very important and it’s absolutely critical you come into those weeks rested and ready for the training load.  I recommend that these weeks are spent on your FTP and Vo2 max unless your goal is highly specialized and training in these areas won’t help you reach your goals.  This will give your body just enough time to adapt and improve your threshold and Vo2 systems before your peak of fitness.   One caveat here is important to include:  if you are sick leading into these two weeks or get sick during them, you need to rest, rest, rest and be 100% before beginning your final push, even it means delaying the training a bit.   

When you examine your Performance Manager Chart in TrainingPeaks WKO+ software, make sure you are comparing ‘ramp rates’ of CTL throughout your 6 weeks final build.    In Figure 1, note how you can hover over the CTL line (blue) and compare how quickly your CTL rises from week to week.  Be careful if it starts to rise more than 8 TSS/day each week.  It’s fine to have it rise over 8 TSS/day per week for a week or two, but if you have a week that it goes up 15 TSS/day and then the next week is 12, alarm bells should be ringing as this means you are increasing your training load too quickly and too rapidly.  


Optimize the number of intervals

How many intervals you do in a training session can be optimized and this is one of my favorite ways to properly utilize a power meter during training.  Until recently we have only been able to guess whether we should do 5 hill repeats or 10, 15 or maybe none at all.  We had no understanding of what wattage we needed to hit in order to improve that energy system, nor did we know what wattage we were hitting on interval one and how we fatigued we might be by interval 12.  I have written about this concept many times and put it in the 2nd edition of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” as well, so I am not going to go into depth here, but do want to give you some basic concepts with which you can build on.   First off, when you train, you are training with a goal in mind in that training session, maybe it’s improving your anaerobic capacity and in my personal case, this is an important goal for me since I want to have the most number of “matches in my matchbook”  to be burned in a race.  For anaerobic capacity,  I want to do intervals between 30seconds and 2 minutes and in this example, I am going to crack out some 1 minute hill repeats because they are just painfully satisfying.  First off with my FTP at 300 watts, I know I’ll need to do at least 120% of 300(360watts) in order to even strain my anaerobic capacity system enough to cause enough stress and in turn gain improvements.   I will start out shooting for 150% of my FTP (450watts) and then do as many intervals as I can until I can’t average 360 watts for the effort.  When this occurs, I know I will have completely exhausted this system and doing anymore intervals won’t help me.   

Now, I have a more complete discussion of the optimal intervals in Dr. Coggan’s and my book and I would encourage you to read it thoroughly so that you can optimize the number of intervals in each session you do.    In Figure 2, you will see a guideline to help you understand when ‘enough is enough’.   In order to do this correctly, you have to have a clear understanding of how you use the ‘interval’ button on your power meter computer head and then also how to review those intervals before doing the next one.

Each of these three optimization ideas come from the fact that you are using your power meter in training and using it properly to keep your body right on the ‘face of the wave’ so to speak.  Optimizing your training is something that each of us can do and should do since we all have limited time to train and that time is highly valuable.  Another resource you might want to check out is my website and under the Seminar/Webinars section, I have placed over 25 webinars on different topics including these three, along with tips on using WKO+ software and how to build your training plan.  Keep up the great work and stay focused this early spring using these concepts to help guide you to success.