never ride at the front

I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.

Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.

Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.

Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.

It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.

What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.

I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.

Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.

One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.

Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!

Strength Plateaus

Fairly often I have people that hear about the success of my client(s) and then asks me for a set workout that they can do, or to make a few changes to ‘mix-it-up’ for the program they have been doing……
I can do that, but I can not keep this workout from creating a plateau for you. No one can. In fact the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. A ‘set’ workout plan is not much different. If you go to the gym & do the same machines with the pin pushed into the same number each time you are there, then you can expect the same as last time. The fact is that although you may be stronger than not doing anything, but you also are not using your gym time to it’s fullest potential.

National Elite Track Pursuit Champion Daniel Holt demonstrates a side plank:

You have to keep mixing things up and keep the body guessing. If you do the same things repeatedly then the body adapts and continually attempts to do the same amount of work while recruiting less muscle fibers. This is actually the reverse effect that people are looking for as I wrote about in Cycling Strength.

If you are finding that you are in a Strength Plateau, then you should consider if you are over-training, or getting in-sufficient recovery. Are you going to hard or riding too hilly a course on your easy days? How is the hydration? the nutrition? too much volumn? too much intensity?

A workout program must have a progression of challenging exercises to get the desired results on the bike. If I got someone to do the hardest workout the first time they came into the studio, they may not be able to walk back in 2 days later. Thus, in order to get different results, your workouts have to change and continually challenge your body. Only through challenging your body and recovery do you get strength gains.
So, we start with the basic exercises, and see how the body responds and adjust accordingly.

Next we make sure that both legs are putting out an equivalent amount of energy into the pedals.Then we go for dramatic strength increases, so that we can do plyometrics which will add the explosive power to this increased strength.

Going through this phase of exercises takes several months. Only through proper challenges and recovery do you get optimal strength gains that allow you to break through strength plateaus!

Stronger cycling

I have taken a week long break away from cycling in the Atlanta heat. It was a nice break during a heat wave that came through the South eastern US – good timing for me.

I spent two weeks in the gym working out again. This re-visiting squats, lunges, core exercises, and total body circuit training helps the balance the body back out from too much of a good thing (cycling) and allows you to tone up and hopefully drop some bodyfat % – ALL of that will create a stronger cyclist.

Now that I have been getting back on the bike I am starting to get in more climbing again. I have been getting out on rides that only had only a few people in the group. I have been able to do this on the Mt bike the past couple of weekends, but now I’m also getting some of that climbing with groups.

Last night I did the Smyrna Bikes Monday night ride. This is a fun group to ride with, and although the pace is not ‘race pace’ it is definitely NOT a recovery ride. For this ride, my goal was to ride how I felt, but climb in a harder gear than I usually would while attempting to stay with a group, this is possible with this ride because after each serious climb they will re-group. That allows me to work on my leg strength with out worrying about being dropped by the group or getting too tired to keep up with the group later in the ride.

A buddy of mine commented that I always seem to climb in a seated position. This is true, and not by chance. 1) For a non-climbing rider, you can usually put more power into the pedals being seated. Where-as a lighter rider is usually able to use his own bodyweight to add more power to the hills while standing.
2) staying seated on a climb keeps my heart rate lower than standing, I will stand to accelerate or stand just to get over steeper sections of a climb.

If you have compact cranks you can still do this type of hill training, the key is to use a harder gear than you usually would. Most people that have compact cranks end up spinning all the time. This is good on race day or Big events, but it does not create stronger legs. If you truly want to get stronger while cycling you have to mash a harder gear in training.

Remember train your weakness, but race your strengths.

Climbing hills in a harder gear than you are used too will give you ‘on the bike’ leg strength that is needed for stronger cycling. What happens is that you to fatigue your muscles, and only by stressing the muscles and allowing for adequate recovery do they get stronger. As you continue to do this, those mountains will become more like hills.

So get out there and hit the climbs.

Get the System that I and my clients use to become a Stronger Cyclist. In this ebook I will give you a system of how to set-up your training in a way that allows you to focus on 1 of the 4 parts of the puzzle at a time AND in the correct order. This will ensure you become a Stronger Cyclist.

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