Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Road Racing Tactics

Road racing is a tough sport, not just physically but also just getting used to the manner in which races unfold. A road race is unlike other other endurance races where the strongest athlete almost always wins and races play out in a relatively straightforward way. Of course, luck, equipment, and tactics come into play in every endurance sport, but even among the cycling disciplines, road racing rises above the rest in terms of tactical complexity. To say this is not to belittle the other disciplines of cycling or endurance sports in general - it is simply the way road racing is. It is up to you to decide whether or not this tactical component enriches your experience of the sport or dilutes it.

In a road race, the rider who wins is not always the strongest in the race, but is among the strongest who chooses to put in a hard effort at the right time. Quite often, especially in the beginner categories, a strong rider will drive the pace at the front the whole time, only to use up all his energy long before the finish, where he might end up watching as his competitors surge ahead for a better placing. Road racing is all about conserving as much energy as possible until a critical moment arises, and then putting in a maximal effort (intelligently) for the rest of the race. It takes a keen tactical sense to make the right move at the right time, and the best way to develop such a tactical sense is to get out there and race.

A great example of proper race execution comes from Team Cycle University rider Alex Telitsine at Mason Lake #2 a couple of weeks ago. While I was looking over his power meter file from the week before at Mason Lake #1, I noticed that his average power for the race (216 watts) was a little on the high side given that the race came down to a field sprint. Given that his threshold power is around 275 watts, most of his race efforts should be below 200 watts, unless he is in a breakaway or similar situation. An average power over 200 indicated that he was spending too much energy working when he could have been sitting comfortably in the field putting out much less power.

For the next race in the series, Alex decided to spend more time sitting in but at the same time remain vigilant and try some attacks towards the end of the race. Conserve, then attack. He executed this plan perfectly, and broke away with another rider with just over one lap remaining in the race. The breakaway stuck and Alex finished an excellent 2nd place, bringing home the first podium of the season for Team Cycle University. While the average power from the two races was almost identical (213 from ML#1, 216 from ML#2), his effort in ML#2 was divided into two distinct sections: for the first 1:20 he was sitting in the pack and conserving energy, averaging just 187 watts, then for the last 40 minutes he was in the breakaway and put out 274 watts to drive the break, a near-maximal effort for the duration.

So, we can see how conserving for the majority of the race, then making a committed hard effort can lead to a better result than a constant effort throughout a race. Additionally, this is a good example of why it is important to race with your power meter. Without these data, we would have no quantitative idea on what Alex did during the race - how much energy he uses to sit in the pack, how much power he puts into his attacks, and the overall intensity of the entire race.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Incycle Rocks!

This post is my first time ever blogging so bear with me. What inspired me to finally write something on the Cycle U blog? InCycle inspired me.

Over the past five months I have lead Incycle workouts at both West Seattle and Magnuson Park locations. Incycle workouts were designed specifically for individuals who want to improve their fitness in only three workouts a week. It was obvious from the start that Incycle was going to make vast improvements in fitness to the participants but I still wondered was it going to be good for racing?

The old school train of thought was mileage, mileage, mileage. And now that the race season has started I was a little nervous I hadn't done any major miles. I had not done any 4 or 5 hour rides. And any hard workouts I had done had been inside on a trainer.

Any doubt I did have about my fitness was put to rest after the first few races. I felt supper fit and ready. In fact, this last weekend on Saturday I won the first real mountain bike race of the season at Capital forest. After the race I was over I was talking to my main challenger and 2nd place finisher and found out he too is a participant in Incycle on Tuesday/Thursday mornings. Then the next day at the road race, which I also felt very strong in, I found out that fellow Cycle U coach and Incycle instructor Dan Harm had won the final Mason Lake road race.

The fitness gained from a winter of Incycle was unstoppable this past weekend. It just goes to show that quality is better then quantity. And that is why I have to say Incycle Rocks!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cycle U Announces Mountain Bike Clinics!

Are you ready to take your mountain biking to a new level?

Cycle U is proud to present mountain bike clinics focusing on skills to become a better mountain biker!

Why: These clinics will take your cross-country riding and racing to a whole new level.

What: All-outdoor clinics include fundamentals of mountain biking, discussion, drills, trail riding, and thorough demonstration of techniques by the coaches.

Who: YOU & Cycle U coaches and elite/pro racers Kristi Berg and Toby Swanson.

Where: St. Edward's State Park in Kenmore, WA (top of Juanita Hill)

When: Thursday nights in May....

May 8th - Mountain Bike 101: Basic Skills
This clinic is an introduction to mountain bike riding/racing. We will focus on the basic fundamentals involved with MTB riding. I.E: body positioning, braking, cornering, basic bike set-up, general maintenance.

May 15th - Mountain Bike 201: Intermediate skills
This clinic will build on Basic's clinic by adding more intermediate skills, working on building confidence on the bike while climbing and descending. Improving body positioning to help make climbing and descending easier.

May 22nd - Mountain Bike 301: Advance Skills
This clinic will build on the Intermediate clinic by working on the technical skills of MTB riding/racing. I.E: drop offs, bunny hopping, ruts. This clinic will help to build confidence in the technical area's of MTB riding/racing.

How: Register Now! Click the desired class...
See ya on the trails!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Fever

OK, time to hit the road! I must confess that until this week I have only ridden outside 3 times this year. InCycle has me on the bike about twice a week and I plan to be ready for some racing soon.

I gave another goal setting talk at Expo this past weekend, what a great crowd for 9:30 on Saturday, we hit 70 people by the end!!! This reminded me that at my last Goal setting seminar back on January 21st that I wrote down (during the brainstorming) that I had some actual racing goals in 2008 (first time in 11 years!) And there is nothing more powerful that making a public commitment to help you follow through, so here it is:

As a matter of public declaration, I commit to the following:

-One race a month beginning in April, riding with the New Team Cycle U development squad in a Crit, Road Race, TT or Tri.

I hope to see you out there! The great weekly races begin at Pacific Raceways (my favorite place to get started racing) and Seward Park in April. You can find a full list of the races at: WSBA Racing

Welcome to the new Cycle U and HPC team members! Cycle U is for those who are considering racing, and HPC is for those who like to ride hard but not race. Both programs are growing fast and a great way to meet like minded riders, get instruction and live the dream. In case you don't know we take new members for both programs all year long, you can sign up through our website here:Cycle U Team Page

See ya on the trail,

Coach Craig