Friday, December 31, 2010

Play the hand you're dealt!

I really believe the saying, "PLAY THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT" not only applies to life in general, it applies specifically to cycling. 

Genetics plays a huge role in how successful you are in cycling.  If you're fortunate to have Olympic Athletes as parents, like Taylor Phinney has, there is no wonder why you too can't be an Olympic athlete someday.  As far as I'm concerned, Taylor was dealt a Royal Flush.  For the average mortal cyclist reading this blog (unless you're an elite athlete) we're lucky if we were dealt a pair of 10's in comparison.  Why do I say that?  Because if we trained hard everyday for 5 yrs. straight (with the best coach in the world) we still wouldn't be able to come close to matching the cycling accomplishments/performances of a Taylor Phinney..even if we were the same age. 

So, what makes a Taylor Phinney genetically superior to us weekend warriors?  For starters, he probably has a huge VO2max (engine), his muscles clear lactate faster than the average Joe, i.e. a higher lactate threshold, a high power-to-weight ratio, a good ratio of Slow Twitch to Fast Twitch muscle fibers, etc.  I want to talk a little bit more about the muscle fiber types since I believe it relates more to our cycling training/racing...and the title of the blog.

Slow Twitch (ST) muscle fibers (aka Type I) have slow contraction times (thus the name) and are slower to fatigue than Fast Twitch (FT) muscle fibers.  Fast Twitch muscle fibers (aka Type II) have faster contraction times and are quicker to fatigue.  The big difference between the two are that the ST fibers use Oxygen and Carbs/Fat for energy production where the FT fibers do NOT use Oxygen and only use Carbs for energy production.  The FT fibers also produce lactic acid as a byproduct of energy production.  And, I think we all know what lactic acid feels like in our legs during short/hard efforts.

For most of us, our bodies are composed of a 50/50 ratio of FT to ST muscle fibers.  Some people have an 80/20 ratio of FT to ST or ST to FT.   The ratio differs not only throughout the body but in the individual muscle group itself.  For example, I'd say I have a 50/50 ratio of FT to ST muscle fibers in my body.  But, I know that my tricep muscles are probably 80% FT and 20% ST muscle fiber and my quadricep muscles are probably 20% FT and 80% ST muscle fiber.  How do I know that?  (No, I didn't have a muscle biopsy performed- which by the way is the only REAL way of knowing what your muscle fiber composition is.)  It's because when I was on my HS Football team I could throw a football 65-70 yds and when I was on Penn State's Track Team I threw the javelin over 220 ft.  Since throwing a football and the javelin primarily uses the tricep muscle (as well as the hips/legs) and requires fast explosive action..I can pretty much tell that it's made up of FT muscle fiber.  Now, for my poor excuse for quadriceps.  Back in HS my 40 yd. sprint time was probably the slowest of the defensive backs on the football team.  I'm not sure of the exact time but I'm guessing it was closer to 5 seconds than 4 seconds..haha.  And, when I played HS basketball (at 6 ft. tall) I could barely get my wrist over the rim (let alone dunk).  I definitely suffer from the white mans disease..can't sprint and can't jump.

And, for what it's worth, you can't change the ratio of Type I to II muscle fibers in your muscle.  Let me repeat that so it sinks can NOT change the ratio of Type I to II muscle fibers in your muscle.  Yes, you can change the muscle fiber characteristics or develop Type Is to act more like Type IIs (and vice-versa) but you can't physically change one type to the other.  (BTW, this will be the topic of a blog later this week)
Despite the differences in the two muscle groups, generally the muscles have the same force when fired; one just burns out quicker than the other. Muscle build is what allows Olympic athletes, like Taylor Phinney and his parents, to separate themselves from others. Generally cycling sprinters are built of predominately fast twitch muscle fibers in the legs while long distance riders are predominantly slow twitch.

While you may never be an Olympian (not in the cards) understanding how your muscles work might allow you to revamp your cycling training.  If your leg build is more fast twitch muscles and you are attempting to ride long hilly distance road races and find that you never succeeded, think about possible transitioning to more of a shorter distance flat criterium racer. If you are more of a slow twitch person and you cannot figure out why you can never compete for that final sprint I highly recommend you change your goals to competing in a long hilly road race instead- where most of the pure sprinters are spit out the back.

Whatever your body type, the more you understand about it the better off you will be when you are attempting to reach your 2011 goals.  Play the hand you're dealt...don't fight it!

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cross Training

Snow arrived (locally) this past weekend and my XC Skis begged me to take them I acquiesced.  The first trip was over to Lake Galena on Tuesday.  The skiing couldn't have been better until the Park people plowed the very path I was skiing on..bleh.  Check out the picture on the left.  (In fact, the damn plow guy almost hit me when he passed)  I managed to ski on top of the plowed snow..but it definitely wasn't as fast as the trampled/packed snow on the trail.  Why do they have to plow the path so soon?  Hell, they weren't even done plowing the roads in the Park.  They could have at least waited a day or so.  Something tells me the locals, who use the trail for their daily walk, are behind the prompt plowing..bleh.  Regardless, I got a good 6 mile workout in.

After giving up on Lake Galena I decided to try the Parks that were within walking distance of my house.  I headed over to Bush Park (in Buckingham) yesterday and found a gold mine.  It was a soccer field with at least 6 inches of virgin snow (except for a few footprints).  With that, I blazed an oval trail (or track) that was approximately 400m long. I did a sort of track workout during my lunch break.  After work, I met Jason Wood (Cat 2 roadie) and did some more track work.  I pushed myself MUCH harder with Jason because we raced.  Jason was averaging 2 min. per lap and I was averaging 2 1/2 min. per lap so he gave me a head start.  I think we got a couple miles of 400m sprints in.  A great workout for sure.  I wore my HR monitor and I was at 188bpm (193bpm max HR for cycling) at the finish of each lap.  We had a great/fun time.  More importantly we got a great workout in.  My legs are so sore right now.  In fact, I don't remember the last time my quads were so sore.

Maybe another XC Ski Track workout today?  Regardless, gotta get back on the bike/trainer tonight for a Sweetspot interval.  Cross Training is fun but it is NO SUBSTITUTE for time on the bike.  Will it help improve cycling performance?   Probably not.  At least there is no research to support it.  But, that's not why I do it.  I do it because it's fun, it gets me outdoors in the fresh air and in the sunlight (which I don't get enough of these days), it's a break from the bike and keeps me in good cardiovascular shape.

It's all good!  Power ON! Coach Rob

Progressive Power Base Training

Starting Monday, January 3rd, 2011..Coach Rob Teixeira (now I know why they call him Coach Rob) of Southern California will be uploading U-Tube Videos on "Progressive Power Base Training". This video series will teach Computrainer users (and/or folks that use other Power Meters on their trainers) how to begin not only the Base training phase of the season but, most importantly how to incorporate Progressive Power Training (PPT) into training for maximum on bike strength gains!

Coach Rob is picking up where the great Bill Edwards, PhD (Engineering) left off. Bill wrote an e-book ,which I highly recommend, about Progressive Power Training (PPT). In short, PPT is very much like Resistance Training in the gym. For those of you that are foreign to resistance/weight training (or gyms), in order to increase muscle strength in the gym the initial weight (or load) is progressively increased with training. The body adapts to the to the increased training load and gets stronger. Coach Rob is using this same principle/methodology to increase strength on the bike.

Coach Rob will also be posting other videos on U-Tube.  In fact, he just posted a video on how to put together your Annual Training Plan (ATP).  I like that he uses the same terminology as Joe Friel uses: Base, Build, Taper/Peak, Race and Transition Phase of training.  They are the same ones I use because it's simple and makes a lot of sense.  There's no need to talk about microcycles and macrocycles like some coaches do.  During the increase training volume and get a lot of aerobic training in at lower intensities. i.e. L3.  During the Build, you start increasing intensity in the L3/L4/L5 zones and build on what was established during Base Training.  During the Taper/Peak phase, you start decreasing/tapering the training volume and working on race specific training. i.e. sprints to get you in peak shape.  Finally, it's Race Time..when you have some fun and show everyone how hard you trained over the Winter.  Transition is the break after racing season...a time to relax, cross-train, have some fun and spend some time with family/friends.
I think you'll be surprised (one way or the other) at Coach Rob's training methods when you see his video on Monday. I think he's going to prescribe more hi-intensity workouts be implemented into the annual training plan. High Intensity Training (HIT) seems to be the big buzzword these days in cycling training..especially for the time-crunched athlete (see Chris Carmichael's book). There is a lot of recent (credible) research that concludes that HIT is not only beneficial for improving lactate threshold and VO2max performance but long tempo endurance as well (hello Triathletes).
Hey, if it were up to me, I'd prescribe hi-intensity training (HIT) intervals (L4-L6) all the time for my athletes. The reason I don't, is threefold: a) the athletes won't do them- because they HURT like hell and you'll feel like puking afterwards b) the athletes eventually burn out from doing them every week and/or c) the athletes get injured (or sick) by doing too much too soon. That's the primary reason why I prescribe tempo and sweetspot interval workouts in the first two months of ALL of my athletes training plans- to build strength to ensure the legs are ready for the more intense workouts to come- thus, preventing injury.

Anyway, should be interesting. I've emailed Coach Rob and told him that I have Bill's book and pretty much subscribe to everything Bill says (in the book) for the past 2 yrs. He was happy to hear that.  I also told him I would post a blog (like this) recommending athletes to view his video.  He was REALLY happy to hear that.  So, visit Coach Rob's site on Monday and check out the FREE U-Tube Training Video. Perhaps we'll discuss the Video (in my blog) next week.

For more information, go to Coach Rob's website:

Until then, Power ON! The other Coach Rob

Happy New Year 2011

For some, the New Year is a celebration of the previous year.  For others, like me, the New Year is a celebration of the upcoming year- a new start/beginning if you will.  2010 was NOT a particularly good year for me.  My Mom unexpectedly passed away in April.  A good friend of the family recently passed away from a long battle with breast cancer.  I did NOT meet my 2010 cycling goals.  I was on the road for business much too often (which had a lot to do with not meeting my cycling goals).  My back (two herniated discs) started giving me fits again. 

Yes, I know, it could have been a lot worse.  But lets just say this wasn't one of my better years and that I'm truly looking forward to a better 2011.

If you haven't started your 2011 Cycling Training Plan..get on it NOW!  There isn't a better time to start.  If you need help getting started, send me an email  and I'll help you get started.  Unfortunately, I can't take on any more athletes for coaching.  I'm booked for 2011.  I'll do my best to include some blogs in the next week on how to get started.  For now, however, you need to evaluate the past training/racing season to see what worked and didn't work- then re-evaluate.  Then, you have to decide what your goals are for 2011 and how are you going to achieve them.  This is particularly important for new cyclists.  You first have to decide what you want..then determine how you're going to get it/there.  Remember, what you want may not necessarily be what you get.  i.e. if you're a 225 lb. rider with a big muscular upper body ..don't make it a goal to win the local (hilly) 100k road race.  Likewise, if you're a 135 lb. rider with a little muscular lower body.. don't make it a goal to win the local criterium sprint.  It probably aint gonna happen.  Sorry!  I'll devote a couple future blogs to this exact topic and tell you why.

For now, don't drink too much on Friday night..and please don't drink and drive.  To all, have a Happy (and healthy) New Year 2011.  I hope you meet/achieve all your goals.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, December 17, 2010

iBike Pro Power Meter For Sale

For Sale - iBike Pro - $500

Included with the sale:

- heart rate monitor
- cadence and speed sensors
- cadence and speed magnets
- stem mount
- computer connection cord
- installation cd
- 12 new batteries

-- my iBike head unit was just sent back to me from VeloComp for a warranty replacement in November, it has never been used, all other parts are lightly used and in good working order.

-- with the asking price you will also get the trainer unlock key which will allow you to train with power on your trainer. this is an aftermarket upgrade available through VeloComp for $39, I will provide it for free.

-- please email me at with any questions.
For more information on the iBike Pro, go to:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Real Cyclist

I don't really advertise places to buy stuff on this blog, since I'm a proponent of supporting and buying stuff at the Local Bike Stores (LBSs).  But, if the LBSs don't have what you want (and you need it in a hurry) good Goretex Bike Wear that I just bought..I HIGHLY recommend the folks at  If you're not sure what to get or you want more information on a particular piece of gear/equipment..they have an online chat with knowledgeable people to help you.  I just recently ordered some Gore Bike Wear and used Real Cyclists online chat for sizing information/help.  Their prices are as good as anyone else online and I'm sure they'll even match their competitors prices.  Can't hurt to ask.  Both Andrew T and Rich F helped me with my online order and gave me a great price.  So, check em out. 

Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cross Country Skiing

If you've been following my blog you know that Santa dropped off some XC Skis at my house a few weeks ago.  (I'm planning on doing a lot of Cycling Cross Training w/ my XC skis this Winter.)  Since then, those skis have been dying to see some snow.  (they told me so..haha)  If you live around me (Doylestown, PA) the only snow I've seen so far this year was a coating around Thanksgiving.  That's NOT a problem, however, because I didn't buy XC Skis so I could ski in my backyard.  I bought them to ski further North like the poconos.

BTW,what really irks me is the fact that there are NO decent XC Ski websites in the Philadelphia Area with recommended places to ski within a 2 hr. ride.  And, I'm NOT driving out to Williamsport for XC Skiing.  The reason I'm XC Skiing is to get a good leg workout in for cycling...not to sit on my butt for 4 hrs. driving one way to get there.  Is it some kind of secret with the XC Ski purests? 

So, where do you cross-country ski in the poconos?  Well, you can always sneak on a ski resort like Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Blue Mtn, Camelback (where I used to be a Ski Instructor: , etc.)   In fact, I think JF/BB and Camelback have already opened.  But, as one guy told me, in a comment on a previous blog, a lot of these resorts are getting smart and having ticket checkers right outside the lodge to make sure EVERYONE has a lift ticket.  In prior years, the only time the ski resorts checked for a lift ticket was when you boarded the lift.  And, hell NO, I'm NOT paying $50 for a lift ticket when I have no plans on using one.  I'll pay a $10 greens fees of sorts, if they want, but I'm not paying $50.  Besides, I'm only going to be working out on my skis for 1-2 hrs.  (2 hrs. of XC Skiing and I'll be ready for the bar.)

I'm really not counting on the ski resorts in the Poconos for XC Skiing.  However, that's the only place I/you can be sure has snow all Winter long due to their snowmaking capability.  So, if snow is sparse..that's where I'll be.  Where else can I go?  Well, there are always the State Parks in the Poconos (and locally) that have XC Ski Trails.  But again, I'm relying on them to have snow.  The closest are:
Hickory Run State Park-
Lehigh Gorge State Park-
Promised Land State Park-
Nockamixon State Park-
Fort Washington State Park-
Washington Crossing State Park-

The best part about these Parks is that you can Mtn Bike in them too..if there isn't enough snow.

Ok, where else?  There are a couple resorts/inns that come to mind which are less than a 2 hr. ride from my home.  They are:
Cliff Park Inn-
Pocono Manor Inn/Resort-
Sterling Inn-

Here is another place the looks REAL good, except it's probably a solid 2 hr. drive:
High Point XC Ski Center-

Just like when I bought my Mtn Bike, I checked out all of the local Mtn Bike Trails, I'm going to try to do the same with these XC Ski Trails this Winter.  We'll see.

If anyone knows a place I missed, please comment/email me.  I'm not looking for any fancy resort to ski, just a place to get a great workout in, within a 2 hr. drive, and a "watering hole" nearby for afterwards.  Thanks.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Why do Cyclists Shave their Legs?

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday, with the bottom of my pants riding up above my ankle exposing my bare leg, when a woman (and friend) I work with said, "Do you shave your legs?".  To that question my first reaction was one of embarrassment.  My first words were, "Uhh, yup!".  I already knew what her follow-up question would be, since I'm asked all the time by women- "Why?".  To that question my reply was, "It's a cycling wouldn't understand".  Well, she didn't buy it.  At that point, the entire meeting stopped and the six people that were sitting around the table were looking at me for further explanation...bleh.  To that, my reaction was a beet red face..and nothing out of my mouth.  I was speechless.  Why?  Because it really is a good question, "Why do I shave my legs...even if I'm a cyclist...especially in the Winter when I don't race and nobody can see them?".  For me, it's primarily peer pressure. I ride with elite athletes all the time, both indoors and outdoors, and they shave their legs.  In fact, on one recent ride one of the athetes I coach said, "dude, shave your hairy-ass legs".  So, I did.  haha. 

Anyway (Nicole), here are the top 6 reasons why cyclists shave their legs:
1. BETTER AERODYNAMICS- less leg hair, less drag, faster racer.
2. EASE HEALING OF ROAD RASH- when you race bikes, you's part of the sport.  Shaving of the legs makes healing of road rash that much faster.  No hair in the wound, and less chance of infection.
3. MAKES MASSAGE MORE PLEASANT- there is no doubt about feels much better to have your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles massaged with no hair on them.
4. MORE ATTRACTIVE- dark tan legs that are cleanly shaven and smooth just look more muscular and lean.  That's why bodybuilders do it.
5. TRADITION- cyclists have been doing it for years. 
6. PEER PRESSURE- if you line up at a race with hairy legs you are quickly tagged as an inexperienced UNSAFE rider that riders should stay clear of.

The more I think about addition to peer pressure, I probably also shave for vanity reasons.  Just this past summer another woman (and friend) asked the SAME question, "Do you shave your legs?"  This time, my wife was with me and she answered for me.  She said, "yes he does, he does it for cycling".  End of discussion.  I think the reason why this particular woman didn't delve deeper into questioning is because she was afraid I'd say, "What you jealous that my legs are more attractive than yours and guys will be looking at my legs instead of yours?"  Which they were/are more attractive by a long shot..although I hope guys aren't looking at my legs..haha.  After all, my wife has commented in the past that there are a lot of women out there that would LOVE to have the smooth toned legs that I have. 

So, the next time a woman asks me if I shave my legs I'm going to proudly lift my chin (and pant leg), smile and say, "You're damn right I do..don't they look great?  I think they're sexy". haha

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, December 6, 2010

Todd Wiley and Aaron Scheidies- World Champs

Thought I'd pass this article on to everyone.  An article written by Aaron Scheidies, a blind triathlete, that I had the pleasure of meeting at the NYC Triathlon a couple years ago with my friend Todd Wiley.  This article was posted on Todd Wiley's website:   What Todd didn't mention (because he's modest), however, is that he and Aaron broke the previous World Record by 9 minutes at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida this year.  Kudos to Todd and Aaron.

A Tribute to My Guides by Aaron Scheidies

I have been competing in the sport of triathlon for ten years now and I have yet to see the guides get any credit or recognition for all that they do. They are the ones that make it possible, but nobody knows their name. In the stat sheets, it is as though they didn’t show up for the race. In my stat sheet they are the star performers. The sport of triathlon can become a very “me centered” sport until you experience it as a guide or a blind athlete. The sport then becomes a team sport. I put a lot of trust in my guide to make the best decisions for both of us. My guide must be accountable for the training and mental preparation required to stay with me the entire race. What do they get out of it? Well, if you’re thinking materialistically than nothing. My guides have sacrificed weekends from their family, personal finances, hours of their free time and the stress that great responsibility brings. All of this to help someone else become the best they can be in something they love. Their impact expands well beyond the sport of triathlon. My guides have been mentors and teachers. They have also been protectors. Most of the time they are heroes! My guides have helped me become better in the sport of triathlon but more importantly they have helped me become better at life! For this I want to honor them for all that they have done.

A few of my guides deserve special recognition. These guides have become my “go to” people. They are the ones that I can always count on to get the job done. They have sacrificed the most for me and I think it is only fair that I give them special recognition.

Todd Wiley

Todd Wiley has guided me in the fewest races with respect to the above two but demonstrates the character of someone that loves life. Todd was a former professional triathlete and now triathlon coach that sought out the opportunity to guide me. Todd has guided me in some of my biggest races including the New York City Triathlon two times and Escape from Alcatraz in 2009. Todd has also been there to guide other blind athletes when a guide was needed at the last minute. He is so much fun to race with and helps bring out the inner kid inside me. Later this year, the goal is that Todd and I will get our first World Championship together at Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Just like the two Matt’s (Matt West and Matt Miller), Todd exemplifies the person I want to become.


At TWiley Sports our goal is to grow endurance sports both in the individual and the community. We do this by providing athletes with personalized training programs tailored to their needs to help them achieve their highest potential at their target races. We feel this can be achieved by communicating with our athletes through written and hands on training programs.

At the community level we provide events, camps and clinics to athletes from the junior level athlete to the athlete that just wants to learn more about endurance sports.

We provide performance testing for athletes to meet their maximum potentials while training and racing throughout the year.
Great article!  Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, December 5, 2010

FatSecret Challenge

For most of you, losing weight is NOT a goal/objective for the 2011 racing season. But for me, it's just as important as producing/improving power on the bike.  After all, as most of you's all about w/kg as it pertains to road bike racing.  The guy/gal with the highest sustainable w/kg usually WINS- especially on a hilly tract!

Most people diet in order to lose weight.  I don't believe in diets.  Why?  Because they are NOT for life..they are ONLY temporary.  That is, short term, you may lose weight and reach your goal but in the long term, you're going to gain that weight back- and some.  I've seen it all too often.

I lost 50 lbs. from 2003 to 2005 and have been able to keep that weight off since.  Yup, that's right, I weighed 225 lbs. in 2003..BEFORE my Bally's weight-loss challenge.  I did it by laying off the pizza, beer, pasta, etc. (eating right) and exercising.  My exercise routine included riding my bike and a resistance training program in the gym.  That's right, a weight/resistance training program.  Most people think that lifting weights will add muscle mass, make you bigger, and actually put on pounds.  Nope..not if you do it right- like I did.

Currently, I weigh 178 lbs.  My goal is to lose 13 lbs. and get to 165 lbs. for Battenkill in April 2011.  I'm going to make that weight loss goal with the help of my NEW friends on   I recently started a "pound per week weight loss" challenge on  Currently, there are 56 people signed up for the challenge.  If you're interested in joining us- sign-up today/tonight/tomorrow.  Fat Secret is FREE.  They have a dailly food journal for tracking your calories as well as an exercise journal for tracking your workouts.  That is, in addition to the challenge forum with people like you..those that are trying to lose weight and meet their goals.  Who knows, maybe some of you will meet/make a new friend.  Look for the "pound per week" weight loss challenge on Fat Secret and sign-up today.

Tomorrow starts the Fat Secret Weight Loss Challenge.  I'm already 1 month into my Functional Threshold Power Challenge on the bike..which is to increase my FTP from 240w (indoors) to 270w (indoors).  For me, that translates to an outdoor FTP (where it matters) of 297w (since my FTP outside is 10% higher than inside)..and a w/kg of 3.96  or 4 w/kg.  I don't care who you are, or what age, if you have a w/kg of 4 or greater on the bike- you're a strong rider!  (FYI, a w/kg of 4 is mid Cat-3 power).  And, that's where I want to be for my race (Battenkill) in April- regardless of where I finish in the race (Masters 50+).  If  your w/kg is higher than 4, you're a stud..and if it's higher than 6- you'd be Lance Armstrong in his prime.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Creating a Solid Base

If you haven't started training for the 2011 training season- what are you waiting for- Christmas? haha (or should I say ho ho.)  Ok, I'll give you Cyclo-Cross racers a break..after all, you of all people need a break- especially if you're coming off a long road bike racing season.  So, kick up your heels and have another drink on me.  You other guys/gals have no excuse.  So drop that donut and get in the gym and on the bike and start training.

For the most part, November and December is our "Base" training period(s).  A period where our goals should be to a) establish/create a BIG base on which to build b) improve our overall fitness and c) fully develop aerobic threshold fitness.  For now, I'm just going to talk about a) and b).  I'll talk about developing aerobic threshold fitness in a future blog.

So, how do I establish a BIG "Base"?  For me, establishing a BIG Base is all about increasing endurance, improving strength, and developing speed in my legs.  I increase my endurance with longer rides on the bike and aerobic cross-training- such as Nordic skiing or inline skating.  I work on strength with a weight/resistance training program specifically geared towards cyclists as well as performing strength drills on the bike/trainer.  Speed skills are developed on the bike- both inside on the trainer and outside on my Tempo Endurance rides.  If done correctly (improving endurance & strength as well as developing speed), and with enough will also be improving your overall fitness.

How do you know if your overall fitness is improving?  One way you can tell is to perform a comparison between similar rides and see if your Heart Rate is lower for the same power output.  When I say "similar" rides I really mean closer to "identical" rides.  Not only the exact same ride profile but the same time of day, same hydration level, same energy level, identical temperature, same stress level, same warmup, etc.  What you're trying to do is take out all of the external factors (including environmental) that can affect Heart Rate.  I do this comparison test on my Computrainer with an Erg Video file for 25 minutes.

I've attached a graph of my two rides for comparison: one from 11/26 and the other from today 12/2.  The yellow lines are from my ride on 11/26 and the red lines are from today's ride.  The graph compares Power, Heart Rate and Cadence.  You can see on the graph that Power and Cadence are relatively identical.  However, my Heart Rate averages almost 10-20 bpm lower on 12/2 than it did on 11/ least for the first 20 minutes of the ride.  Only after 20 minutes were the Heart Rates similar.  To me, that means my fitness is improving (which is a good thing) but my endurance is just not there yet..which can be expected so early in the training season.  The endurance will come with time.

As I said earlier, in a future blog I will tell you how to test your aerobic threshold fitness via your power-to-heart rate ratio.  According to Joe Friel, author of "The Cyclists Training Bible", when you can do an aerobic threshold ride for 2 hrs. while your heart rate and power remain coupled, you can consider your aerobic threshold fitness full developed and your primary goal of the Base Period will have been accomplished.  Don't worry, I'll tell you how to compute your Power-to-Heart Rate ratio and explain what "coupled" means.  And, you won't have to ride for 2 hrs.  I'll also explain what "cardiac drift" is all about.  Until then...

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rain to Snow?

Looks like the Northeast is going to get some rain tomorrow into Wednesday followed by an Arctic blast of cold air.  Although it may not bring along some snow with the cold, it does mean that the pocono ski resorts will have their snow guns working around the clock in hopes of opening for Christmas.  That also means that yours truly will be taking advantage of the snow and getting some XCountry skiing in when he addition to some Mtn biking.  I love Mountain Biking in the snow.

Oh, BTW, here is a map of Blue Mountain where I plan on doing some night XCountry skiing this Winter (midweek).  I think I'll park at the Summit lodge and do a counterclockwise rotation of the hill.  The red lines are uphill and the green lines are downhill.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gore Bike Wear Part II

Just got done reading two reviews on the 2011 Gore Bike Wear Fusion Jacket.  One review from  and another from 

Both reviews were rave reviews of the Fusion Jacket.  Now, I need to find the best place to find it at the lowest price.  I don't care how good it is, I'm not paying $400 for a stinkin' bike foul weather jacket..haha.  When I do, I'll post a link on this blog.  For now, the hunt is on.  If I can find a sale for closer to $300 it's mine.  Stay tuned.

Ok, found a source: Wiggles in the UK with free delivery to the States for $325.   Problem is, they are out of stock in size Large..bleh.  Guess I'll continue the search.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday Morning Off-road ride

On Sunday mornings throughout the Winter I'll be riding my Mtn Bike for 2-3 hrs.  If I had a cross bike (which I don't) I'd be riding that too.  For me, it's just too cold to be riding my road bike at 20+ mph on the road.  Plus, the nasty/sloppy road conditions of the Winter make it more sensible to be off-road- at least I think so.  Normally, I drive down to the Delaware River in my car (btwn 9-10 a.m.) and park near the Black Bass Inn adjacent to the walking bridge to Bulls Island.  From there, I either ride my Mtn bike on the PA or NJ side.  I try to mix it up so I don't ride the same route more than once a month.  The ride consists of intervals on the canal path along with at least three climbs (on the roads) in the hills surrounding the canal.  Last week, for example, I rode down the NJ side of the canal towards Frenchtown and latched onto three cyclo cross riders.  I rode at least Threshold pace for 10 minutes catching up to the group who had no clue I was in hot pursuit.  (It was fun)  Once I caught on, I drafted behind the cross riders for at least 10 minutes while chatting with them a bit.  From there, my first climb was Tumble Idell Rd off of Watson Rd.  For those of you that never climbed Tumble Idell Rd, it's a dirt/gravel road that has about a 10% average grade hill, with a max grade of about 16%.  I ride that to the intersection of Hill Rd, which is about a mile long climb.  From there, I turn around and head back down to the canal.  Once back on the canal, I head back towards Bulls Island for my 2nd climb- Stumpf Tavern Rd.  Stumpf Tavern Rd is not as steep as Tumble Idell but averages about an 8% grade hill for about a mile.  Once at the top, I turn around and head back to the canal.  The last climb is Quarry Rd Hill, at Bulls Island, which is only about an 6% grade hill.  Although, after doing the other two climbs, it feels like it's an 8-10% grade hill.  Quarry Rd. Hill is a lot shorter.  Once at the top of Quarry Hill Rd. I head back to the canal for some more intervals.  Depending upon how I feel determines how much longer I go, but I normally try to ride for at least 2-3 hours total.  It's a great workout.

If you're interested in joining me:  Most of you that know me know that I only have Cat 4 power- if that right now.  So, if you're a Cat 3 or lower you can still join me and get a great workout in.  That's because when I ride with stronger riders, which I almost always do, I either draft behind them and/or tell them to go ahead of me on the hills.  I also tell the stronger riders to go longer than I do on the canal path.  I usually meet back up with them at some point- always finishing together.  I don't believe that stronger riders should have to sit back and wait for my slow a$$- just ride.

The ride is a Tempo ride for the most part because I really don't believe in going hard so early in the Training Season.  The main goal/purpose of the ride is to get a longer endurance ride in that I'm not able to get in during the week on the trainer.  When I hit the hills, however, I'm definitely at Threshold pace..sometimes VO2max before I convince myself that it's too much too I back it down.  I think it would be cool to get a group ride going EVERY Sunday morning whether I'm there or not.  I'll try to be, but sometimes I'm out of town.  The ride, this time of year, is more social and just an excuse to get outside and ride longer.  Sometimes I stop at one of the local cafe's for a small latte and cookie (for re-fueling).  I don't like to stop longer than 10 minutes because I don't want to cool down too much otherwise it's too cold starting back up.

Just a heads-up, I'm always on my Mountain Bike when I ride in December and January.  As I said earlier, I don't really like riding my road bike outside during the Winter months.  I get enough interval workouts on my road bike during the week inside on my trainer.  So, if you show up on your road bike I probably won't see you until the end of the ride because as you may well know- road bikes are much faster than a Mtn. bike.  In fact, Cyclo-Cross bikes are much faster than my Mtn. bike.  So, even if you only have Cat 5 power and you show up with a road'll ride away from me.   I don't start riding my road bike on the roads again until February.  That's when my road bike rides are specifically geared towards riding hills and developing power in my legs.  February is also the time of year when I take a vacation to Las Vegas for a week and ride the hills of Red Rock Canyon.  I find that riding the hills in February really prepares me well for Spring road riding/racing.  Hey, if anyone is interested in joining me on that trip..send me an email.  I usually ride in the mornings at Red Rock Canyon, then spend the afternoon and evenings with my wife (who doesn't ride) shopping, dining, seeing a show or whatever.  Last year the temps were in the high 60s low 70s in Vegas (in February) and riding was awesome.  Hotels are cheap in Vegas right now. i.e. $49/night.

Also, this Winter I'll be taking my Mtn Bike and X-Country skis up to the poconos (if there is snow on the ground) to get a workout in on both.  For those Sundays, I'll be leaving Doylestown at 0700 and returning around 2 pm.  You are more than welcome to join me.  I already have a couple of riders that are interested in Mtn Bike riding and X-Country skiing.  It will be fun.  Plus, you'll be back in time to catch the end of any football game or do any chore around the house that needs attention.

Lastly, I'm considering taking a trip up to Blue Mountain once a week (mid-week) during the Winter for some nightime (under the lights) X-Country Skiing.  That is, when I'm in town and not on business travel.  I don't intend on buying a lift ticket just skiing the mountain and climbing back up.  I can't see why I'd have to buy a lift ticket if I'm not using the lift.  I don't know what the ski resort policy is, they may make me buy a lift ticket anyway saying that it's a greens-fee of sorts and pays for the lights and insurance.  I guess we'll see.  I use to downhill race at Blue Mountain (once a week) years ago and always had a great time- particularly at the bar for a beer or two after a hard night skiing.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Erg Video Review

I don't really post many product reviews on my Coaches Blog unless I come across something I really like.  One product I REALLY like is ErgVideo DVDs for the Computrainer.  Erg Video is a company in Canada that makes Real Video Cycling Simulation for the Computrainer.  The videos are in HD.  Included with every DVD is Erg Video 3 software that is superior to Computrainer's Real Course Video software.  The software supports up to 24 Computrainers and displays power, heart rate, cadence, calories, etc. for each rider.  The best part of the Erg Videos is that you are right there- riding in the peloton.  The videos are shot from helmet cams that the riders are wearing- unlike the Computrainer Videos that are shot from a trailing car where you never see a rider. 

Additionally, the Erg Video software makes you keep up with the peloton..otherwise you're dropped...just like in real life riding.  With the Computrainer software when you slow down or stop pedaling, the video stops.  With the Erg Video software all you have to do is enter your FTP and the computer software applies the appropriate load for the ride.  For example, if I load an Erg Video Tempo ride DVD the software adjusts the load to 75% of your FTP making it a true Tempo ride.  If you're not feeling particularly strong on a given day you can either lower your FTP or lower the load prior to the ride.  Another cool feature of the Erg Video software is that you can select any portion of the video to ride.  If you want to do a 2x20 sweetspot workout you can select that from your 2 hr. Tempo ride and get a good 50 minute workout in (with rest intervals).  Unlike Computrainer videos that are more Ironman Triathlon based, the Erg Videos are more geared towards road cyclists.  You can choose from Tempo workout DVDs, Threshold workouts or even Tour de France stages in the Pyranees.  And, as I said earlier, they are High Def videos which look awesome when projected from your computer onto a big screen. 

If your a cyclist that I coach, you're more than welcome to join me in an Erg Video training session.  Just give me a call, when I'm home, and we'll setup a training session for FREE.  One ride and you'll be hooked.

Check em out at

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Gore Bike Wear

If anyone spends as much time as I do outdoors (year round) you can appreciate the value of good bike wear clothing.  Often times when I last weekend..I start off my rides cold then end up sweating my a$$ off when I'm doing intervals or climbing hills.  Even when you wear good base layers that are moisture-wicking (like I do) you still end up cold when you slow down or stop.  When I ride, I ride with multiple layers.  I also ride with shirts/jerseys that have zip-up collars.  The zip-up collars help (because they allow you to zip up on descents and zip down on ascents to let your body heat escape) but a lot of times it's more appropriate to shed layers.  Unfortunately, you just can't leave your layers on the side of the trail or road.  Well, at least I can't leave them for fear they won't be there when I return.  I can't afford to lose good/expensive stuff.  Additionally, I don't let rain ruin my ride so it's imperative that I have a waterproof layer.  When I say waterproof, I mean waterproof NOT water resistant.  Water resistant clothing is just repels water but is NOT water proof.  Most water resistant clothing does NOT have waterproof seams and that's where they leak- through the seams.  Been there done that.  Oh, one more thing, if you do get wet on your ride whether it's from sweat or rain get out of your clothes immediately after your ride- especially in the Winter. If you don't you'll end up getting sick like I did last week...and you'll be forced to take a break from your training.  Remember, when you ride're lowering your body's immune system and you're open/prone to every freakin' germ that's spread at home and in the office.  Being chilled after a ride only helps accelerate the process.

I've done a lot of research lately and came across the Gore Bike Wear line of clothing for cyclists.  There clothing is engineered for cyclists.  I won't go into detail re: the engineering I'll let you read for yourself:  (Ladies, they make Gore Bike Wear for you too) If you want user reviews, do a Google search and you'll find outlets online like that have them.  After all they are from cyclists that have actually worn the product.  What caught my eye from Gore Bike Wear is the 2011 Fusion Jacket.  I have to admit what caught my eye was the MSRP price: $399- gulp!  Four hundred bucks for a stinking jacket was my first thought- wow!  But then I started to read about the engineering that went into the jacket I was quite impressed.  I was also impressed with the rave reviews.  You'd expect that from a $400 jacket.  This jacket has it all, ventilation, comfort, waterproof, pockets, velcro closures, etc.  Most important it's a year-round jacket.  It's warm in the Winter and lightweight for the summer..if that makes sense.  The jacket has so many ventilation options that instead of shedding layers all you have to do is regulate your core temp with the ventilation zippers.  If you need some pants that you can ride in, they also have a matching Fusion pant.  They are $200 MSRP- not cheap by any means...but probably the only pair of pants you'll need for the rain, cold, sleet, snow, etc.- year round.  Both are also very durable..after all, the last thing you want is this stuff falling apart after a season of riding.  If anyone knows of anything negative about this product..please post in the comment section of this blog because I'd really like to hear from you. Or if you know something that is AS good for less $$- please share.

If this stuff is as good as advertised..I'm going to try to find the best place to order online.  I doubt very much if any of our LBSs carry this kind of stuff because it's good stuff that I'm sure the masses are really not interested in.  But, if you're like me and you spend 50% of your time outdoors- I think it's worth it.  Although advertised for cyclists, I'm sure it would work well for running, kayaking, fishing, x-country skiing, etc...everything but hunting where you're hiking through heavy woods and prone to having a branch pierce the fabric. It's durable but it's not bulletproof.  If you want heavy bullet-proof stuff I recommend Goretex rainwear from Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops- which is actually a lot cheaper.  That is if you call $400 cheap for top and bottom.  But, beware, the bullet-proof stuff is heavy and will have you sweating in the Summer and really not built for mobile outdoor activities like cycling or running.  I know, I have stuff from BPS that I use for fishing.

Also, not all Gore bike wear has Goretex membrane in it.  If it doesn't it means it's NOT waterproof.  It's only water resistant with Windstopper fabric.  That's the difference between the $200 jackets and the $400 jackets.  The only negative thing I can think of with the Fusion Bike Wear from Gore is that it's probably not good for Mtn. Biking where falls are likely.  Well, at least for me falls are likely when I Mtn. bike..ha.  I'm sure if you fall on rocks or asphalt the material will get ripped and there goes your waterproofing no matter how good a patchup job you do.

So, check em out online at  If you see any sales out there on the 2011 Fusion models..let me know because I think I'm going to pull the trigger and talk Santa into dropping a suit off at my house for Christmas. 
Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cold Weather Riding

If you've been following my blogs you probably realized that I've fired off quite a few the last couple days.  That's because I've been laying in bed, for the most part, fighting off a cold/flu.  And, the reason I'm fighting it off is because I did something STUPID when I rode on Sunday.  I rode outside w/ too many clothes on (despite the temps being in the mid 40s) and sweated profusely when I did my hill repeats.  I even unzippered the shirts/jackets I was wearing to help the heat escape.  I also took my helmet off on the long climbs to help release the body heat.  What was even more STUPID than sweating so much, is not going directly home after my ride.  Instead, I went to my LBS to get a replacement buckle for my shoes.  Only now I remember standing in the shop completely chilled.  Well, you can only imagine...a run down immune system from a long hard ride combined with a chilled body equals SICK.  I even bailed on a 2x10@ L4 workout this morning because I was feeling so Sh$tty. 

It's ironic that I just got done reading an article by the folks at Saris/Cyclops entitled "Conquering Cold Weather Riding".  Read it, it's a great article if you're going to be riding outside this Winter. 

I love the photo in this blog. Photo Credit Michael Oryl.  This is also another way you do NOT want to dress for Cold Weather Riding in the Winter- for obvious reasons.  I actually rode by the same sign (Loveland Pass) on my bike a few years ago, dressed the same as the cyclist in the picture, however, it was in July and the temps were in the 70s.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Obsessed with Weight Gain?

No, this is NOT a concentration camp photo.  This is a picture of the Danish bike rider Michael Rasmussen.  For those of you that don't know Michael, he was the yellow jersey wearer/leader in the 2007 Tour de France and what looked like a sure podium finish.  Then his own team (Rabobank) mysteriously cancelled his contract during the race for violating his contract...I assume it was for going AWOL and allegedly doping.  What I never knew about Michael was his obsession with weight.  I just thought he and a lot of these pro tour riders like the Schleck's, Contador, etc. were just naturally thin.  But, here's a quote from Wikipedia on Rassmussen:
"Michael Rasmussen is known for his care for detail when considering weight. He is known for peeling off unnecessary stickers from his bike, not wearing the Livestrong wristband which has become common among many Tour de France riders, due to the additional grams.  He used to count each grain of rice before eating and had water with his breakfast cereal, not milk. He only carries one water bottle holder and his Colnago Extreme-C bike weighed 6.81 kg only 10 g more than the minimum limit."

Unlike Michael I'm not obsessed with my weight but I do know the value of being lean..especially on a hilly road race. (see my w/kg blog)  I just stepped on the scale this morning and discovered that I'm at my Winter peak weight- ALREADY!  And, it's not even Christmas yet.  Yeah, it's a shock alright.  I have a goal to lose 15 lbs. by April 2011.  That's 15 lbs. in 15 weeks.  How convenient!  I only have to lose 1 lb per week for the next 15 weeks.  Since there are 3500 calories in a pound, all I have to do is cut out 500 calories a day for seven days for the next 15 weeks.  For some reason that sounds more daunting then 1 lb per week for the next 15.  But, instead of thinking about cutting out 500 calories a day..why not think of it as burning 250 calories more per day through exercise and cutting out 250 calories of food (or junk) per day.  Same result.  For me, when I'm spinning/riding at close to Threshold I'm burning about 800 calories per hour.  So, to burn 250 calories I only have to workout at that pace for 20 min.  REMEMBER: This is 20 min. over and beyond what I'm normally exercising each day.  So, if I already have an interval workout planned for that day, I had better wakeup early in the a.m. and get perhaps an hour Tempo ride in..befire doing the interval workout that evening.

Ok, now for the cutting out the junk food..or just eating less.  Jot down what you ate in the last month or so..just generally.  You don't have to include everything...just the stuff you know could add up to an extra 250 calories per day.  After you do that, write down what you SHOULD HAVE done instead.  Here's my list:
* Two bowls of cereal in the a.m. INSTEAD of just one
* Handfuls of Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, etc. INSTEAD of just one handful
* Three to four beers in one sitting INSTEAD of just one beer or two lite beers
* Eating too much when dining out INSTEAD of bringing half home
* Eating ice cream INSTEAD of sherbert or water ice
* Eating cookies at the hotel registration counter INSTEAD of resisting
* Eating too many breads/rolls/sandwiches INSTEAD of knocking off the carbs
* Eating Peanut Butter Sandwiches INSTEAD of tuna fish or a good salad w/ protein (meat)
* Eating my kids leftover Halloween candy INSTEAD of resisting
* Drinking some of my kids soda INSTEAD of drinking water
* Eating at a Chinese Buffet and going back for 2nds/3rds INSTEAD of filling up my plate once
Anyway, you get the point.  Just these little things can save you 250 calories per day in food consumption.  Combine that with 250 calories of exercise and you've got your 500 cal/day x 7= 3500 cal/wk= 1 pound x 15 weeks= 15 pounds= GOAL ACHIEVED

BTW, don't forget to treat yourself along the way.  I'm already looking forward to that big a$$ steak I'm going to have in Las Vegas in February at the Steak House in Circus Circus.  For those of you that have been there, you know what I'm talking about.  For those of you that haven't, you're missing one of the best steak houses in the country.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Weight/Resistance Training

Ok, I lied.  I said I wasn't going to give you Weight Training exercises on this coaches blog and that you should get them off the internet.  There are a bunch of em so what I'll do is give you what I believe are the best. The best part is- you can do them at home with just a few pieces of equipment.

Remember, what I'm suggesting here are just a few of my favorite exercises that are cycling specific that you can do at home.  After all, there is a ton of articles on the internet on Weight/Resistance Training specifically for Cyclists.  Plus, there's a good book from VeloPress by Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz, "Weight Training for Cyclists", 2nd ed. 

The first thing you want to do is go to your local Sporting Goods store and buy three pieces of equipment: 1) Adjustable dumbbells ranging from 5-50 lbs (buy 2).  Shop around because they range in price from $150-$500.  I bought mine years ago from Walmart.  Here they are:   2) Swiss Ball or Stability Ball.  Buy one to fit your size.  Big guy, big ball.  3) Resistance Bands. I like GoFit.Nets resistance bands.   In fact, if you want a great kit buy the Pro Gym in a Bag.  It comes with everything you'll need including an instructional DVD.  The best part is that you can throw it in a suitcase when you travel away from home- which I do a lot.

Ok, now that you got your stuff..what's next?  Lets start with the dumbbells.  No, you're not going to be doing bicep curls with the dumbbells and training to look like Popeye.  (Although some of you might want to do some upper body exercises with them so your wife or gf doesn't have to take the trash out for you..I'm not kidding.)  The dumbbells will be used during squats and lunges to develop your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes.  The Swiss Ball (or Stability Ball) will be used to develop your core which includes the abs and the lower back.  It's also good for stretching.  The Resistance Bands (aka Power Bands, Thera-Bands, etc.) will be used to work the smaller abductor/adductor (inner thigh) muscles as well as the glutes and hamstrings.  Additionally, the resistance bands are great for stretching muscles..especially sore/tired muscles.

Here are my favorite cycling specific exercises w/ the equipment you just bought.  I've included a link to a U-Tube video on how to do the exercise correctly.  Lets start with my favorite dumbbell exercises working the legs:
a. Side Lunge-  Hold one dumbbell in front of you when you do them rather than holding dumbbells to your side.
b. Forward/Front Lunge-
c. Rear Lunge- 
d. Calf Raises
e. Single-leg Squat-  Instead of the Smith Machine you're going to use your dumbbells.  Start with low weight because you will have problems with balance at first.

Here are two of my favorite Resistance Band exercises working the legs:
a. Abductor/Adductor-  Abductor exercise shown.  Just put your ankle strap on and tie the other end to the bottom of the couch, door or some other heavy object.  To work the Adductor, just turn around.
b. Hamstring Curl-  Sorry guys, no good looking girl on this demo..ha

Lastly, here are a couple Swiss Ball (aka Stability Ball) exercises to work the abs and lower back:
a. Core- 

These exercises will get you started.  Now, here's some workout tips:
1. Lift on opposite days that you ride/spin.  I like M-W-F because I spin/ride on T-Th and the weekend.
2. Start out with 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise (for each leg) using relatively light weight.  Later on in the year, you can (and want to) reduce the reps and increase the weight. 
3. Plan your workout for one hour.  I don't workout any more than an hour.  You can get a lot done in an hour working the legs and the core.  Any more is not necessary.
4. Rest no more than 90-180s between sets.  That's enough recovery time.
5. I like to work my legs independently.  Not only does it better mimic the cycling movement, it will identify any leg strength imbalance.  You'll notice that one leg may be stronger than the other for different exercises.
6. Pay attention to form when you're doing the exercises.  You want to isolate the muscle you're working on.
7. Don't put any unnecessary strain on your back when lifting dumbbells.  Maintain strict form.  The last thing you want to do is hurt your back...or your knees.
8. If you feel any knee pain when doing the leg exercises..STOP immediately.  Resume another day.  Don't try to exercise through the pain.
9. Work the larger leg muscles first. i.e quads and the smaller ones last. i.e abductor/adductor.
10. Have FUN!

Power ON! Coach Rob

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Cross Training

Winter is coming...just take a look at the weather forecast and you'll see that the highs for next week will be in the 40s.  That means the nights will be in the 20s and 30s and that means the ski resorts in the poconos will start making snow.  The goal for most ski resorts in the poconos is to be fully open by Christmas.  I know, I used to work as a Ski Instructor at Camelback Ski Resort for years.  So, what the heck does this have to do with cycling?  It really doesn't unless you're like me and enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors and love to cross-train in the Winter.  I used to race (giant slalom), back in the day, but two herniated discs in my back have slowed me down a tad.  That's ok, because this year Santa is buying me Cross Country Skis.  In fact, Santa already dropped them off at my house.  (Even Santa has got to start early to make the rounds)  The stuff (skis, boots, poles) is from Onion River Skis.  You'll find that these guys have the best selection, and prices, for Nordic ski packages.  Trust me, I looked around a lot before I purchased.  Check em out:   For those of you that have never Cross-Country skied before I can tell you without reservation that it is not only a great workout for your's a great cardio workout as well.  And, it's fun.  Maybe not as much fun as downhill skiing but definitely a better workout.

The skis I purchased are Back Country  Skis.  Here is what OR says about BC skis:  For folks who don't know where they might end up once they head out their back yard, a Back Country package will give the confidence needed to explore. These skis are wide for better float in deep powder, have metal edges, and have lots of sidecut for making effortless turns. The boots are super warm and laterally stiff for optimal downhill control. There are a lot of new, exciting things happening in this category. Come in and check it out for yourself!

Although we don't have any deep powder in the East, the wider ski will give you a more stable platform..and the metal edges will definitely give you a good bite on the hard pack trails you'll most likely experience.  These skis will also go through the woods for cutting your own snow covered trail.

My plan is to try to get out every Sunday morning and do a little Cross Country skiing this Winter in the poconos.  If we don't get enough snow in the poconos, then I'll just Mtn bike around here instead.  Actually, I'd like to do both if I can.  In addition to the poconos I'm planning on a trip or two to Vermont.  I can get to Mt. Snow, just north of Bennington, VT in 3.5-4 hrs.  There always seems to be snow around Bennington.   If you don't have a Mtn bike, a Cross or Hybrid bike will work too.  During the week, I'm going to try to make it up to Blue Mountain for some night skiing because they'll have made snow.  I used to race up there during the weeknights.  I can't see why I have to buy a lift ticket if I'm X-Country skiing and not using the lift.  I'll just walk back up the hill.  It will be one helluva workout, which is the purpose for going.  Plus it makes the beer taste that much better in the lodge when you're done. 

If you're interested in joining me, let me know.  I've already had a few guys say "I'm in".  Should be a great time and great workout.
Power ON!  Coach Rob

Power Profiling

The first thing I do when I take on EVERY new athlete for the year is to perform a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test on them.  The FTP test gives me four valuable pieces of information:
1) a maximum sustained average power (for 20 minutes) that will be used to establish the athlete's training zones/levels
2) gives me a baseline number for determining if the athlete's training plan is optimized/working
3) tells me how that person stacks-up against other cyclists/athletes his/her age (when comparing w/kg)
4) identifies strengths/weaknesses

In some cases, however, I perform additional tests like a CP1 or a CP5 test.  CP stands for Critical Power.  A CP1 test is your all-out maximum sustained average power for one minute.  If you've never done one before- it's a gut check.  You might be wondering why these particular duration tests were chosesn.  They were chosen because the PhD weenies of the world believed they would best reflect anaerobic power (CP1), maximal oxygen uptake or VO2max (CP5) and lactate threshold (CP20 or FTP).  I don't perform a (CP.08) test, a 5 sec. test, because I don't believe an indoor trainer (which is where I do most of my testing) is the safest place to do it.  I'll do that test out on the road where the athlete can stand.

I do not perform the CP tests on the same day as the FTP test.  I just think it's too much.  I'll wait a day or two to perform the CP1 and CP5 test.  So, what do the CP1 and CP5 tests tell me..other than the athletes approximate anaerobic power and VO2max?  What they allow me to do is "power profiling".  After I perform each of the aforementioned tests, I plot the data on a power profile chart which shows the maximal power output (w/kg) for each of the CP tests.  An athlete that exhibits a high CP1 and a low FTP output is typically a good sprinter.  That's not to say that this athlete can't be more of an "all-rounder" with focused training.  Conversely, an athlete that exhibits a high FTP and a low CP1 is typically a good time trialist.  If all of the athletes CP tests are pretty level, than that athlete would typify an "all-rounder".

Power profiling is in no way gospel.  Just because you test poorly at CP1 and well at FTP does NOT mean you can never win a sprint in a Criterium.  It's just a system for helping to determine a riders strengths and weaknesses.  For many new riders, it's actually less accurate a system/method because most new riders are weak in all areas.  But, make no mistake about it, if I see a relative newbie rider with Cat 2 power for CP1 and Cat 5 power for their FTP test..I'm not going to suggest that this athlete sign-up for road races in the Spring.  Over the Winter we'd definitely work on improving the athletes lactate threshold (their weakness) without compromising their sprinting speed/power.  I'd also HIGHLY recommend that this rider race criteriums and possibly even visit the local Velodrome to see if they'd like to do some track racing.  Remember, you race your strengths and train your weaknesses.  But, lets face it, it's more fun to do something you're good why not do it?

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, November 19, 2010

USCF Rules Change for 2010/2011

USA Cycling: No ban on helmet cams or juniors’ use of carbon wheels or tubulars

By Steve FrothinghamUpdated: Nov 19th 2010 3:31 PM EST

The USCF Board of Trustees considered and rejected several proposed rules at a meeting earlier this month. The board approved the awarding of singlespeed cyclocross national championships, but several controversial proposals were either rejected or withdrawn, including one that would have banned helmet cams and another that would have banned juniors from using tubular tires or carbon wheels.

The board also approved a rewrite of the rules concerning clubs and teams.

Some of the rule changes that passed:

* A singlespeed national championships category, starting with the 2010 national cyclocross championships next month in Bend, Oregon.

* Singlespeed cyclocross bikes can’t have tires wider than 35mm, must have freewheels and dropbars.

* Registered clubs or teams must promote a race annually to remain an active club

* Clubs are now allowed to have multiple teams, including discipline-specific teams.

* Cat 1/2 master women can ride with master men up to 10 years older.

* Cat 3/4 master women can ride with master men up to 20 years older.

* To race a UCI road race, a male rider must be cate. 1, a female rider has to be cat. 1 or 2.

* The women’s Cat. 4 field limit has been increased to 75.

* Chip timing can now be sued for rider identification.

* Allowing another rider to enter a race under your license will now earn you a one-year suspension.

* Cyclocross field limit is 100 unless specified by the race organizer or official.

* Riders may now wear sleeveless jerseys in time trial events.

* The junior international omnium, a masters scratch race and women’s 45+ team pursuit have been added to track nationals.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Virtual Reality Training

We're not going to have too many nice days like we've had the last few- at least around here the rest of the Fall/Winter.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous for riding.  I didn't get the chance to get out yesterday (Saturday) but I did get in a 3 hr. ride today (Sunday) on my Mtn. bike.  Speaking of which, I just have to ask a question: why do cyclists have to get up at 0600 on days like today (where we had sunny skies and a high in the low 60s) and ride with low-light at 0700 in 35F temps?  Guys (the gals are smarter and at home in a warm bed)..if you just wait 2-3 hrs..the temps will be MUCH more enjoyable to ride in.  Do you ride at 0700 because your Man-pass is only good from 0700-1000 on the weekends and you have to get home to babysit the kiddies?  I can't believe you're getting a ride in before church or don't use that excuse.  When I started today at 1000 (55F) I couldn't believe how many roadies I saw dressed like they were going skiing.  I'm talking heavy duty gloves, ear warmers, winter cycling pants, heavy jacket, etc.  Well, I know why they were dressed like they were going skiing, because if it's 35F and you're riding at 20 mph we're talking a windchill of 24F..and that's skiing weather.  Here's a windchill chart if you don't believe me:
Sorry for that tangent, but I just had to get that out.  Anyway, keep this chart handy because you'll need to refer to it in the next few months..and if you can't get outside and ride..why not ride inside?  Ok..ok..I hear ya, I hate riding inside too.  Well, I used to hate riding inside, but I don't anymore.  Why?  Because I figure if I'm going to train indoors I might as well make it as enjoyable as I can.  I've just about tried every indoor trainer on the market and have to say, without a shadow of doubt, that the computrainer is THE SH$T when it comes to indoor trainers.  That is, the Computrainer linked to a computer loaded with Virtual Reality Training software.  Computrainer sells their Real Course Videos that are ok but the software to support them isn't that great.  Although I have heard that Computrainer is coming out with new software this Fall (we'll see).  The other alternative (and a better one it seems), is HD videos from Erg Video using the Erg Video 3 software.  I'll give a review on this setup in a week or so. 

If you can't afford a Computrainer, Computer and Virtual Reality Software split the cost with a friend.  Besides, it's more fun to ride with/against someone than it is riding solo.  If you're an athlete that I coach, I can get you a Computrainer at a coaches discount..which is hundreds off the retail price.  If you can't pony up the money, rob a bank. (JK)  If you don't want to pony up the money for one, you have two choices, either a) buy a cheaper indoor trainer and be bored to tears training on it this Winter or b) just ride outside when it's 20F.  Lets see, 20F and 20 mph equals a whopping 4F Windchill..that's assuming you have no wind. If it's a windy day, and you have a 10 mph wind in your face and you're riding 18 mph (that'd be 28mph effective wind speed total) then you got a nice 1F windchill...brrrr.  Your choice!

Power ON! Coach Rob

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tour of the Battenkill 2010


My goal for 2011 is to be competitive in my age group at Battenkill.  Just reserved my room.  Now, I have to register in December.  Hope I'm lucky enough to sign-up before it's booked.  I heard in 2010, during the first day of online registration, most of the age groups/categories filled-up in 15-20 min.

Weight Training for Cyclists

This blog is actually Part III of my Weight Training series.  In Parts I and II (2008 blogs) I talked about the importance of a Weight Training Plan as part of your Annual Cycling Training Plan.  In this blog, I'm going to give you some advice on how to get started.

For a lot of you, the thought of lugging your skinny ass to the gym is frightening.  It's as if all those bodybuilders in the gym will start laughing as soon as you walk in the door.  Trust me, they won't.  They're too busy looking at themselves in the mirror to notice you.  haha

BTW, if you can't afford a gym and you want to workout at recommendation would be to go to a good Sporting Goods store and buy three items: Swiss Ball, Dumbbells and Resistance Bands.  If you want more training stuff, you can buy Kettlebells, Bosu Balls, Weighted Balls, etc.  Do a Google Search on these items and you'll find great workouts online.

I'm not going to give you specific weight training cycling workouts.  You can get them off the internet.  Just make sure they are cycling specific.  You don't want to waste your time on shoulder or chest exercises.  You want to select exercises that work numerous joints whenever possible.  I also choose exercises where I can work my legs independently- just like on the bike.  For you gym-goers, stay away from the free weights.  Yeah, I know there are benefits to balancing the free-weights, but the risks are far greater.  Stick with the machines- safety first!  Also, unless you want to entertain the thought of a herniated disc..I'd stay away from the squat rack and heavy weights.  (I've got two herniated discs)

Speaking of NOT pick a weight that is too heavy.  Initially, you want to choose a weight that you can perform 12-15 reps with.  If you can't, it's too heavy.  (If you can do more reps than 15 the weight is too light.)  Secondly, when lifting the weight..lift slowly.  Do NOT jerk the weight.  I see this all the time at the gym.  Not only do you risk injury jerking weights, you're not isolating the muscles you want to train.  When breathing, you want to breath-out when lifting the weight.  An easy way to remember is: blow the weight up!  i.e. you're exhaling on the concentric (lifting) phase.  If you don't breath correctly, you're going to feel sick after an hour of weight training.

Your approach to Weight Training should be the same as your Cycling Training.  Just like the overload principle is the foundation of your cycling training program, it should also the foundation of your weight training program.  Remember, the overload principle states that a muscle will get stronger and more fatigue resistant the more you call upon it.  Don't start out too much too soon.  Go easy initially.  It's all about Progressive Resistance training....NOT Immediate Resistance Training.

When putting your weight training program together you want to choose enough leg and core exercises to do the job in one hour.  You don't want to spend any more time than that. And, as I said before, don't waste your time on upper body exercises..unless you have more than one hour.  Initially, you want to spend at least 1-2 visits to the gym per week and build to 3-4 visits per week.  I like scheduling gym workouts every other day- for a rest day in-between.  I ALWAYS spin at high cadence before and after my weight training sessions (for about 15 min.) because I want my leg muscles to remember that they're supposed to be strong and FAST.  You can't produce good power on the bike unless your legs are strong and fast.

For now (November into December), you want to start slowly with relatively low weight and high reps and stress "stability"- specifically those core exercises.  You may want to start with just 2 visits to the gym per week.  In January and February you want to focus more on strength building exercises. Your exercise weight will increase and your reps will drop.  You'll want to combine two different types of exercises back-to-back: a stability (core) exercise right after a strength exercise.  According to Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz, authors of Weight Training for Cyclists, "This form of training will take your strength and stability to the next level".  You'll also want to frequent the gym more regularly like 3-4 visits per week.  March is Power month.  That's where you combine the strength that you built up in January and February with Speed.  (Remember: Power= Force or Strength x Speed)  I like to do my Power Workouts outside on the bike- particularly in/on the hills.  From April thru October you want to maintain what you built.  Yes, that's through the racing season.  Don't fret, it only requires 1 visit to the gym each week for an hour.  Or, as I said earlier, you can do the workouts at home.

I know this isn't everything you need to know about Weight Training for Cyclists.  If you want more info, do some research on the internet (there is plenty of good info out there).  You can also buy Doyle's and Schmitz's book- it's a good read.  I like their approach to Weight Training.  It just makes a whole lot of sense.  We're not trying to turn into bodybuilders..just get we're faster on the bike- and remain injury free.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Indoor vs. Outdoor Winter Training

You don't have to do anything more than take one step outside your front door at 8am these days to know that Winter is right around the corner.  (That is, if you live in my neck of the woods.)  Just not great weather to jump on a road bike and ride- any distance.  Well, at least not for me.  Especially today, rainy 47 deg F..bleh.   I never really understood why some guys get up at the crack of dawn in the Winter when it's 30 deg F outside and ride their road bikes at 20+ mph on sloppy roads.  Maybe they think it hardens them? Are they trying to impress people?  Are they really having fun?  Do they really think they're getting a better workout than if they rode indoors on their trainers?  I don't know.  I just don't get it though. 

On the other hand, I'm NOT a fan of getting long endurance rides of 2-4 hrs. on a trainer indoors.  I just don't get that either.  But, yet I hear some guys training 2+ hrs. on an indoor trainer..bleh.

Here are the advantages to riding both Indoors and Outdoors in the Winter.  I'll start with Indoors.  The advantages of training indoors in the Winter are:
a. Ride any time you want.  You don't have to worry about available light or the weather...or the road conditions.
b. Safer.  Lets face it, it's bad enough riding outside during the Summer months, in the middle of the day with the sun out.  Cars aren't going to cut you a break in the Winter months when you're trying to avoid all the salt/slop/potholes on the side of the road.
c. Time Saver.  You're more apt to get a workout in on a trainer when it's sitting there waiting for you in your basement (or living room).  Plus, you don't have to get dressed like you do for outside riding.
d.  Control.  Indoors you have better control of specific workouts..especially interval workouts.
e.  Skills/Drills.  Along the same line as d. above, it's easier to work on drills such as one-legged pedal drills.
f.  Weather Control.  You can adjust the temperature indoors with a fan and you don't have to worry about snow/sleet/rain.
g.  Ride with Tunes.  You can ride with earbuds and not have to worry about hearing road traffic, etc. like you do outside.  NEVER ride outdoors with an iPod/earbuds/etc. unless it's turned down where you can hear road traffic, people, etc.
h. Variable workouts. Unlike outside, you don't have to ride out of your way to find hills to climb.
i.  Never get dropped.  If you train indoors with stronger riders, you never have to worry about being dropped.
j.  Mechanicals.  Don't have to worry about a bike mechanical problem or a flat tire.
k. Food/Drink. You have an unlimited supply of both.
l. Wear and Tear.  Don't have to worry about your bike rusting out from all the road salt if you train indoors.

Now, the advantages of cycling outdoors.  They are:
a. Specificity.  There is no replacement for training where you're going to compete...especially training on hills.
b. Hardens you.  Some of your Spring races may be in nasty weather.  Athletes that train indoors all Winter won't have that mental toughness that you have from training outside all Winter.
c. It's fun.  Lets face it, it's more fun riding outside in the fresh air, with beautiful scenery, etc.  Some of my best training rides were on my Mtn Bike in 2 inches of snow.  Plus, I have no problem riding outside in the Winter for 2-4 hrs.  I would NEVER consider that on an indoor trainer.
d. No trainer required.  Don't have to spend the extra money on a trainer if you ride outside.
e. Better feel.  There isn't a trainer made that can EXACTLY simulate the feel of the road.
f. Improve Bike Handling.  Can't improve bike handling skills on an indoor trainer.  Not to mention balance and coordination.
g. Wind resistance.  Yeah, I know that you can just crank up the resistance on an indoor trainer to take into account for the wind resistance you get outdoors..but I don't feel it's the same..just not realistic...especially side winds.
h. Fresh Air.  It just seems healthier to be outside in the cool/fresh air than it does to be couped-up in a stale/hot basement on an indoor trainer.  And, nobody said you had to ride your road bike at 20+ mph in 30 deg F weather.  You can always ride your Mtn bike.
i. Better Scenery.  Indoors the scenery never changes (it's boring)..unless you're lucky enough to have a real course video like I do hooked up to a Computrainer.  Even so, it's not the same (as good) as being outdoors.
j. Variety.  Outside you can ride a road bike, Cyclo-Cross bike, Mountain bike, fixed gear bike, etc.  Can't easily do all of that indoors on the trainer.
k. Won't quit as easily. I have NEVER quit on a ride outside.  Bonked yes, but quit? No!  Do you know how many times I quit on an indoor workout?  Many.
l. More Social.  Outdoors is more social.  You'll see more people. Pass fellow hard-core cyclists on the road, etc.  Plus, good excuse to stop at a cafe and have hot chocolate/latte/tea..not to mention a fresh baked cookie. :)

So, there you go..the advantages of both.  I purposely tried to find as many advantages for both.  Why?  Because I REALLY think that there are an equal amount of advantages to riding outdoors on your bike vs. riding indoors during the Winter months.  Personally, I do both and prescribe you do both as well...for the advantages listed.  It will keep you motivated and keep you training..and most's more fun to do both.  Variety is the Spice of Life. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob