Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hunting on State Game Lands in Pennsylvania

You're probably thinking, "what the hell does this have to do with cycling" aren't you?  Well, if you're like me and you Mountain Bike on State Game Lands (like Nockamixon State Park) it has a LOT to do with cycling.

I don't hunt.  I never did.  Well, I take that back..I did back in College...because my roomie "Kirk" was not only the most avid hunter you'll ever meet..he was one of the best.  But, that was for "small game" (Grouse, Woodcock, etc.) with a shotgun.  For some reason, I just could never see shooting Bambi with a bow/arrow or a high power rifle.  That's because I'd probably miss the Deer's heart and hit it in the ass and they'd end up bleeding to death over a 24 hr. period.  NOT GOOD! 

Earlier this summer, the Pa. Game Commission narrowly approved a resolution supporting expanded Sunday hunting in the Commonwealth. The board's declaration urges the state legislature to repeal the Sunday prohibition; prohibition dating back to the late 1800's.  So, what's that mean?  That means we're probably going to have more city-slickers out in our State Game Lands on Sunday's in the future.  It's bad enough the city-slickers (hunters) are out there on Saturday.

I don't know about you, but I'm MORE THAN a little uncomfortable when I enter the woods on my Mtn. Bike and I see signs posted on the trees like: BE AWARE OF HUNTERS!  Are you kidding me?  Be aware of hunters?  The sign SHOULD SAY, "HEY HUNTER'S LOOK OUT FOR HIKERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS, etc.  DO NOT SHOOT THEM...THEY DON'T TASTE GOOD"..or something like that. 

Regardless of whether you Mtn. Bike on State Game Lands or not on a Saturday or Sunday..make sure you wear visible clothing when you ride in the woods..preferably something BRITE orange or yellow.  You want to be as visible as possible to a hunter.  Why?  Because most of the city slickers that are hanging out in the woods have been drinking (a lot) the night before.  Therefore, their decision-making process is going to be hampered more than it already is (bwah, did I just take a shot at hunters?).  On a serious note, you don't want a hunter to mistaken you for an eight point Buck.  It would suck having to ride to your car with an arrow sticking out of your chest..and hoping the ambulance will get there before you bleed out.   Help the hunter with their quick decision-making process...make yourself seen.

Live to ride another day!  Power ON! Coach Rob

2011-2012 Coaching

I'll be accepting NEW athletes for the 2011-2012 Coaching season during the month of November.  This year, I'll only be taking on 5-6 athletes for the upcoming training season.  Normally, I take on closer to 10 athletes.  But, this year I'm building a house up in the Pocono Mtns. of PA (future cycling training site) and I know it's going to take more of my time than in the past.  It's only fair that I provide the athletes that I coach the same amount of attention/time (for the money) that I have in the past. 

My Annual Training Plans (ATP) generally run from December through April (5 months).  The price hasn't changed in the last 3 yrs. (still $150/mo.)  For 2012, I'm going to offer a racing season plan, from May through September, for a lower fee (probably $50/mo.)  This fee will include preparing the athlete for races, race critique, post-race assessment, unlimited phone and email support as well as attendance at one of the athlete's races to critique the race and take professional action sports photos.

I can tell you without reservation, that I offer more "bang for the buck" with respect to Coaching than the majority of current USA Cycling Coaches.  I believe I'm still one of only a handful of Certified USA Cycling Power Based Coaches in the Tri-State area.  And, I know for a fact that I spend more time with each athlete than the majority of Coaches. That's because I design an athletes ATP around THEIR schedule.  Although most of my athletes will be doing similar workouts (based on progressive power training), you will NEVER see a cookie-cutter workout from me.    In fact, Training Peaks Coaching was so impressed with what I had to offer my athletes that they had offered me a position on their coaching staff for 2011-2012.  I had an interview with Hunter Allen, owner of Training Peaks, re: joining his staff this Summer.  I, however, declined the offer because I'm just too busy (with work, other businesses, new home construction, etc.)  I'm honored that Hunter asked me to be a part of his Coaching Program.  I honestly believe that his Coaches are some of the best in the business.  In fact, if you have the $$, there isn't a better power based coach than Hunter Allen himself. 

If you're interested in my Coaching Services for the 2011-2012 Training Season, please email me so I can reserve a spot for you.  I prefer to coach athletes that train with Power Meters.  Although NOT mandatory, I HIGHLY recommend it.  If you don't have a Power Meter, I'd consider purchasing one.  You don't have to go out and buy a $4000 SRM Power Meter (although they are the best).  There are plenty of Power Meters out on the market, right now, starting at just $200.  Granted, a $200 Power Meter is NOT going to be as reliable or accurate as a $4000 one.   I get coaching discounts from/on Saris/Cycleops Power Taps, iBike and Quarq PMs.  So, if I coach you I will get you a PM at discount prices.  If you don't have a PM, or plan on getting one BEFORE I start coaching you, I'm going to mandate the use of a HR monitor- as a minimum.  I'm also going to require that you be periodically tested at either a facility near me (such as Fusion Fitness in Fountainville, PA) or at an approved facility in your area.  You MUST be periodically tested on a cycling ergometer.  After all, Stimulus and Response is the ONLY way to know (or measure correctly) if your ATP is working.  It's analogous to the doctor-patient relationship re: medication.  Too little a dose and no effect (in our case, no improvement), too much a dose and it could kill you (in our case, set you back).

Email me at:  Power ON!  Coach Rob

The Off-Season

If you're like me, you're enjoying October.  What's not to like about this month?  Cooler weather, football, beer, kids back in school, more beer, etc.  Yeah, hard for me to stay away from beer during the Fall months..especially when I'm drinking a nice Octoberfest beer while watching a good football game.  Do I feel guilty doing this?  Hell No! I'm enjoying life. 

The only problem with Fall, particularly October, is that the days are getting shorter (less light to ride outside) and the weather is often unpredictable (cold and rain).  Despite beautiful sunny mid-day temps in the 60s, the weekend morning temps are generally in the upper 30's/low 40's which is a little nippy for me to get excited about riding outdoors.  (Yup, I'm getting softer in my old age.  When I was ski racing in my 20's, I'd train/race in 20-30F temps regularly...and love it!)  Also, my favorite football games are generally on TV from 1-4pm (on the weekends) when the day is the warmest- and the best times to be outside riding.  So, it's easy to see that more drinking and less riding is a recipe for weight gain and declining fitness.  That's ok, because I really believe that your body and mind require a break from cycling..whether you're an avid racer or just a recreational rider.  However, having said all that (including making excuses why I'm not riding regularly), what you do NOT want to lose so much cycling fitness that you dip below last year's power level.  For example, if I performed an FTP test back in October of 2010 and my FTP was 250w, my goal for this October would be to be at or above this number.  If I'm below this number, I'm going to have to work even HARDER (and SMARTER) than I did last year to be stronger in 2012.  That's why periodic testing is so vital/important.  Just like periodically jumping on a scale to check your weight, you should be tested (periodically) to see if you're losing power.  After all, nothing matters more than w/kg when it comes to cycling longer/faster/stronger.

Just like it's inevitable that you'll gain a few pounds when the season ends, you WILL inevitably lose strength.  But, what a lot of riders don't realize is that MOST will actually start losing that strength DURING the height of the cycling racing season.  I can hear some of you saying, "BULLSHIT!"  Well, if you don't believe me, test yourself in the middle of the racing season and at the end.  You can test yourself in the gym and out on the bike.  I will bet you a beer (can you tell I like beer?), that not only will your FTP be higher on the bike mid-season, your leg strength (measured on any gym machine) will also be higher.  Ok, for the minority that say, "My FTP was definitely higher at the end of the season than it was DURING the season", my question to you is, "WHY?".  The only acceptable answer, in my opinion, is that you had an "A" event in the Fall that you were peaking towards.  If that's NOT your answer then you need to adjust your ATP for 2012 so you peak earlier.

Enjoy the Fall, just don't let the "good times" (drinking beer, watching football on TV, etc.) keep you out of the gym or off your bike.  This is a GREAT time of the year to ride your Mountain Bike, Cross-Train (hike, roller-blade, yoga/pilates, swim, etc.) and Strength Train (particularly core and legs).

Power ON!  Coach Rob 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eddy Merckx..the Cannibal

I just finished reading John Brant's article, "Regarding Eddy Merckx" in November's issue of Bicycling Magazine.  From what I know of the legend..Eddy Merckx probably is the undisputed "greatest cyclist" of all time.  What was most interesting in the article was the author's quest to discover what made him "the greatest"..which by the way, he never did.  But he did ask Eddy (indirectly) what he thought made him so talented.  Eddy replied, "What is talent, really?  Is it the fact that your heart pumps more volume than the average person's or that your blood turns less acidic when exercising?  No, talent has to do with your capacity for suffering".

To Eddy..I say (respectfully) BULLSHIT!  I honestly believe if everything is equal (physiologically speaking) then yes, the man that says "ouch" last will be the winner at the end of the race/day.  But, you can not tell me that physiologically Eddy was just your average Joe with normal VO2max, Efficiency, Lactate Threshold, Endurance, Strength, etc.  It's obvious that Eddy was blessed with God-given talent/ability (to accomplish what he did in the day) and not once did he mention this to the author.  I guess Eddy wants everyone to believe he's a rough, tough manly-man (and maybe he is/was) and that the reason he won so many races in the day was because he endured more pain than anyone else.

(By the way, everyone has a different "pain threshold/level".  I know my wife has a higher "pain threshold" than I do.  But, I can't see her ever beating me in a race regardless of how much pain she can endure or how much she suffers.)

I've coached and seen many a cyclist that pushed past their pain threshold during races..enduring more pain and suffering than anyone else in the race.  The pain was so bad the racer almost passed-out.  Did that cyclist win the race?  Nope, not even close.  Why?  Because suffering (from pain) doesn't win races alone.  What wins races is talent..talent that is normally God-given.  And, that God-given talent is in the form of your genetic makeup.  If you don't believe in God, then it's's good genes.  As I said before, if the talent is equal..then the winner will most likely be the one that suffers the most.

I ride with pain (it's slight), I've been riding with pain ever since I herniated two discs in my back in 2003.  That pain will never go away (so say the docs) unless I have spine surgery to correct it (if that's even possible).  Does riding in pain make (or allow) me win races?  Hardly.  And, I do ride in/with pain every time I ride/race.  For me, I've just learned to accept it.  The pain is not excruciating..but it's there.  And, just because I can ignore the pain in my back when I ride/race doesn't mean that I can ignore the pain in my legs when I race.  The pain in my legs is a result of lactic acid build-up, micro-tears in the muscle, increased hydrogen ions, calcium deficit, or whatever "really" causes it- the jury is still out on this.  It's a different kind of pain.  But this different pain (in the legs) is a "physiological" pain barrier..not a "mental" pain barrier.  Pushing past this barrier whether your brain allows it or not will NOT make you go any's a limiter.  It's your body's way of protecting itself.  It's saying, "dude, if you keep going any more at this pace/level..I'm going to pass out and make you stop, so you don't damage these muscles". 

So, sorry Eddy..I don't buy the pain/suffering thing.  But, you're still the greatest cyclist of all time and "manly-man" (in my eyes)..but next time an editor from a major mag asks you what your secret is/was..tell them the truth (it's ok)..and thank God..or your parents..or better both for your brilliant talented career.  That's not so painful.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Season Start

What does cycling have in common with the Philadelphia Flyers?  Nothing that I know of..other than I've been a long-time follower of the Flyers and the fact that we both start our seasons this week.  (Actually, I attended Flyer's Stanley Cup parades in 1974 and 1975.)  For the NEW Flyers, it's the start of their Regular Season for me it's the start of my Training Season.  I say NEW Flyers because of their many off-season trades and new acquisitions.

What I found rather interesting when viewing their schedule is the fact that the Flyer's 2011-2012 season schedule pretty much mirrors my training season schedule.  When they finish their regular season, I'll be starting mine. 

Historically, October/November is my Base Building Phase of Training.  During these months the majority, if not all, of my workouts are in the L3 Tempo Training Zones.  December/January is my Build Phase where I'm building on the base (I developed in Oct/Nov) and the majority of my workouts are "Sweetspot" workouts in the L3/L4 Training Zones.  February is normally crunch-time for me.  It's when I start ramping up with hi-intensity interval workouts in the L4/L5 Training Zones.  It's also a time of year when I like to go on a week long vacation out West to get outdoors in the warmer weather and get some longer miles in my legs.  If I have excess weight to lose, February is normally where it's dropped.  March is pretty much a continuation of L4/L5 training with some L6 training thrown in. 

By the end of March and beginning of April, I'm race ready.  Just as the Flyer's are getting ready for the playoffs, I'll be getting ready for the Tour of the Battenkill (the first race of the 2012 season for me).  I'm not sure if I'll be racing Battenkill again this year...but I'll be there either way- racing or officiating (on my moto). 

Lets go Flyers!  Power ON!  Coach Rob


It's with a heavy heart to blog that we had to put down our last AKC Rhodesian Ridgeback Champion- CH Dimond-Regals Sure Shot "Kobi" on Friday night.  Kobi passed-away just short of his 10th birthday.  Like Kali, our other Champion who died a couple years ago at age 7, Kobi succombed to Cancer..not only a nasty F'n disease for humans but also for animals.  Kali and Kobi were both Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  Kali was a "Field" Champion and Kobi was a "Conformation" Champion...a show dog.

You may be thinking, well that's too bad..but what does this have to do with cycling?  Believe it or not, my Kali was my training partner when I started doing Triathlons in 2002.  She was my running partner and she was also my cross-training partner.  She used to run with me while I was rollerblading.  She just loved being outside...and she loved to take walks and run.

I don't know if many of you knew that I was very much apart of the AKC Rhodesian Ridgeback Conformation and Lure Coursing scene in the early 2000s.  My family spent just about every weekend at either a lure coursing event or a conformation (show) event.  Lure Coursing is an AKC Field Event for purebred sighthounds where they chase a white trash bag around a course.  The white bag looks like a bunny when it's put into motion.  Here's a link:  We're not involved with RRs anymore except for my wife is still involved in Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue.  Just after my Kali died, we rescued our Ridgeback (Briar) from a puppy mill in Ohio.  We still have Briar.  She has come a long way.   

Kali was my scholar-athlete..the smartest dog I have ever known/met and also one of the most athletic dogs I have ever met or known.  (Notice I said "ever met" not "ever owned".)  When I weighed 222 lbs. (yes I weighed that much in 2002) I was able to bench-press 275 lbs.  I was not really fat per se..just big all over.  (ok, maybe a little fat..ha)  And, despite being that big/strong my Kali at times could drag me to the ground..especially when she was lure coursing. I can't tell you how many collars she broke, or how many people she dragged to the ground that were trying to hold her when she saw a bunny or a squirrel.  Oh, how she loved chasing the bunnies.  My girl was a Nationally ranked AKC Lure Courser in 2002.  In fact, she gained her Field Championship in less than a year..a feat that not too many sighthound dogs of any breed achieve.

Kobi was our "pretty-boy"...our somewhat aloof handsome man.  Oh, how he loved the ladies.  I'll never forget at the Rhodesian Ridgeback National Specialty in Virginia Beach (in 2003) how my Kobi man tried to mount a female WHILE he was lure coursing.  Yes, while he was in a race.  (Later on, we found out the bitch was in no wonder).  Although he was a handsome man, it took him a while to obtain his AKC Conformation Champion status.  That's because Kobi was a tad smaller than most RR males.  In fact, at first glance, most people thought my Kali was the male and our Kobi was the female.   That's because my Kali was VERY dark for a Rhodesian Ridgeback..definitely not the breed standard. 

I will miss our Kobi dearly just like I still miss my Kali.  It's been over 2 yrs. since my Kali passed away and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her (and miss her).  I'm sure Kobi will have the same affect.  I have cried my eyes out the last two days and am sure many more days to come.  That's how much my dogs mean to me.  They are like kids to me.  Although he was more my Daughter's dog, he was still one of my kids..and will be missed very much til the day I die.  He was such a good boy..he never snapped at anybody or anything..EVER.  He just barked when someone (or something) scared him or if something wasn't right.  I think he was smarter than I thought.  

To my Kobi man..I miss you bud..have fun with Kali til we all meet again.  Dad