Train slow, move slow – train fast, and move with Power!
This doesn’t just mean that if you train fast you will have power……
I went out for a spin on a Friday before some Gold Sprints at Peachtree Bikes – but I realized I would waste my time attempting to sprint that night. My legs didn’t have the turn-over required to spin a gear that fast to do well in the sprints. I was having to put too much effort into attempting to spin much above 100 rpm’s…. but it is to be expected, especially when you consider where I am in the training plan.
Although this is disappointing, it is not unexpected, I have been doing a full cold, wet, snow/ice winter of gym workouts this year. Not a lot of heavy lifting, but more true strength building exercises, including weighted lunges & single leg squats. To complement the work in the gym, I have been doing hill repeats at least once a week. When I’m doing the hill climbing my RPM’s are around 70, and the focus is on leg strength – not cadence or Heart Rate. So currently my legs are more used to slowly grinding their way uphill, not turning over the pedals for the county line sprints. So, to suddenly ask my legs to turn over 150 RPM’s for 60 seconds is not suddenly going to be possible!
The good thing about a training plan is things are in phases and I know that the leg turnover comes around much faster than the strength building. Although it has taken most of the winter to build the strength of doing 1 leg squats, it will only be a matter of several weeks to get the legs to increase their turnover again.
As the strength from climbing is combined with the efficient pedal turnover the end result will be power to the pedals. And now that we are into the plyometric phase of the training regime, this is already taking place.
As disappointing as this is b/c I’m not racing in a great event, I know that as I add more speed to my training that the form and turnover of my legs will be a greater reward for the small sacrifice. This is truly where having a plan for the season allows small things like this much more understandable when you are able to look at the big picture and remember the seasons goals, not just what sounds fun this week.
When you are training for a big goal or event sometimes the mind and body respond in funny ways. Some weeks are very challenging physically and sometimes they become challenging mentally. I always let my clients know ahead of time that this is part of the process of becoming stronger. I can even tell them which week in their training plan it will happen & why it will be better the following week.
I find that 1 of the best things about accepting these thoughts as part of the process is although they still pop-up, you don’t dwell on them. Although this does not prevent these self-defeating thoughts from entering the mind, it does help you accept them and push them aside, understanding that it is expected and only temporary. And that just around the corner from this is growth and Strength!
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I hate race wheels and those that show up to the local group ride with them. But I also love it when they show up to the local group ride with them. And this is why…..
When I’m out training, I will ride hard and if it is an aggressive group, I will attempt to bridge the gap or work to pull everyone up to the break. I will attack when I can and make everyone chase! I will get caught, but that’s not the point. I’m training. Some of those guys with their super aero race wheels caught me – good for them. I have worked hard and battled the wind. Whether solo or with the break, I have pushed my body. And they have also. But I have dug a little deeper, dealt with a little more pain. I have battled the elements of wind, strength, and resistance more than they have. And in order for your body to become stronger you must occasionally overload it! (I say occasionally because more important is the recovery from the overload). The idea is to come back harder, faster, stronger next time!
The difference is what happens on race day. They show up just like they did for the group ride. Not me. You think I was fast and worked hard before? I’m getting psyched up because I’m putting on my Race wheels now. Now my bike is lighter, and it is rolling with less effort. This is not only drastically changing the amount of resistance of my bike, but it is effecting me mentally. I’m amped up now, I can feel how much smoother my wheels are – I’m at the same speed with less effort. I’m going over hills with less effort, and I’m coming out of corners with less effort. I’m saving my matches until the decisive break goes, or until the final sprint happens.
It’s race day and now because of all the training I’ve done, my bike, body, and now my mental attitude is ready. The race hasn’t even started yet, but I’ve already got the edge to win. Race wheels are great, but do yourself a favor and save them for the Race. Use an non-aero, heavy wheel-set for training.
My race wheels have racing tires on them that have better grip and are lighter and maybe more prone to puncture, but the day before a race, I will take them out and make sure everything is shifting and properly aligned – this way I’m not stressing about this at the last minute before a race.
Riding on race wheels will bring an extra feeling of excitement about racing and isn’t that a big part of what racing is all about?
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A slow growing trend these past few years has been compact cranks…..now they seem to be everywhere.
I’m shocked to see that new Time Trial bikes are being sold with compact cranks. I mean these TT bikes are made to put the rider in the most Aero position possible, and the rider is about 75% of the non-aerodynamics on the bike. This is all done so that said rider can now pedal the bike as Fast as possible…. yet, the cranks they are putting on them are for climbing? Why are they cranking on your chain like this?
It is all done in the name of Marketing and Sales! When you look over the specs of a fancy new bike, you check many things, frame/fork, manufacturer, components, wheel-set, WEIGHT. And this is where the compact cranks come in – the total weight of the bike. By putting on compact cranks, they are able to save about a half pound (220 grams) from a bike with a 39/53 chain rings….marketing at it’s least finest – tricky. Only later will you find out that the ‘lightest’ TT bike you got may have compact cranks on it – and the makers have done this b/c they know this will be a selling point for many Tri-athletes that are very meticulous about their bike purchase. Yet, in the long run, it’s not ideal for the rider.
Are compact cranks Good? Yes! Are compact cranks Bad? Yes!
The problem that I have with Compact cranks is that it gives you a bail out gear….and most riders use it – way too much! So, what happens? in your training you are allowing your body to ‘bail out’ on many climbs and sections that instead you should be pushing 1 larger (harder) gear and challenging your legs more. It is part of the ‘on the bike strength training’. Don’t believe me? Ever ride single speed? Remember how tough the climbs are? Now guess why they will make you stronger. You will have gained strength through using a single gear to climb.
Guess what happens with compact cranks in the long run. You bail out more and more, therefore, your legs begin to loose strength, and you are only be able to spin up climbs. You can look at gear ratios all day, but if you can’t spin that gear, you are off the back of the pack, and always spinning does not strengthen you legs. Only by stressing the muscles AND allowing adequate time for recovery do you strengthen.
This became overly clear to me when I was able to out ride a guy doing 3 gap, yet I also outweighed him by about 40 .lbs (HEY, it was height and Muscle . He should have walked away from me! As I chatted with him I was able to find out that he was indeed on compact cranks and attempted to spin up each climb b/c ‘he didn’t feel he had the leg strength to push a larger gear…..well, I guess by now, because of the compact, he didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I think compact cranks can be good when used properly. In the off season and base season, there would be nothing wrong with compact cranks and being able to maintain a lower Heart Rate while going over hills. I myself have stopped on hills to lower my Heart Rate before during base building.
Another excellent reason for compact cranks is if you are going to be doing more climbing than you are used to in a short period of time…. if you are from a much flatter area and are suddenly going to the mountains with a training camp, a compact will give you a bail out gear, just in case.
say you are going to Europe to watch a big stage race – compact cranks will make your rides much more enjoyable and less painful. Plus, if you are doing multi-day ride in the Mountains, recovery and less fatigue in your legs can be achieved with more spinning up the climbs using compact cranks.
Now if you already have compact cranks on your bike; no need to rush out and replace them. Actually during the winter, they maybe good to be able to spin the legs. But especially in the spring and summer months, don’t ‘bail out’ every time the road points upward, and you will see your ability to go up that killer climb in a larger gear after a few weeks!
Want to know how to get stronger on the climbs?! Download my ebook ‘Drop Pounds Gain Watts’
Get the Program that
~Pro Cyclist Tim Henry (former West Viginia, Jittery Joe’s, & rider/director for Team Type 1)
~ Pro-Cyclist Daniel Holt Track National Elite Points Champion & Team Type 1 member
~ADIDAS sponsored Pro Runner Jennifer Feenstra – 2nd place at Canadian national Marathon 2010
~Georgia Chain Gang Jerome Rossetti and Tony Myers used to get into the best shape possible before the 2010 RAAM – Race Across America. They finished in 7days!
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