Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Which way do you turn best?

OK, so there was some rain on Saturday for the first big race of the season at Marymoor park called Starcrossed and it was a mud fest!!! It was great to see so many friends, Adam Craig back from the Olympics, Tim Johnson rockin the course as he always does, and new and old Cycle U team members out there with the hundreds of other local cross racers getting muddy. Check http://www.tpk-photography.com Tom's picture site (should be updated soon) for some amazing mud pics!

With the Starcrossed course so twisty, and me being a maven of cornering technique, I noticed something dramatic for the first time (something I had pointed out in others but not myself, nice to teach an old dog a new trick!), and that was that I could catch people on left hand turns, but they maintained their gap to me on right handers. Why is this? I talked to Dale Knapp after my race and he confirmed the same thing, and his theory is that because we are right handed that planting that foot feels better. The leg is more stable. Interesting thing is that during my hundreds of bikefits and watching people's pedaling propensity left to right there is a bias for right handers to be stronger with their LEFT foot.

For a couple years I scratched my head and kept noting this seemingly contridictory data, but now that I have seen it enough and thought about it I believe it is because if you are right footed, the left foot stays on the ground and stabilizes while the right foot kicks. So the right is more coordinated and the left is stronger. There goes Dale's theory at some level, I have seen that the left foot is often stronger.

I bet track (velodrome) builders know the answer to this, since all velodromes are races with only left hand turns. This must have been arrived at because of this same phenomenon, turning left is easier for right handers. I think it is more psychological and pattern driven than based on strength...perhaps it is the coordination....but I am still taking ideas so if you know shout it out!

Ride on,

Coach Craig

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cross me up baby!

Great first race of the season for the community, Cycle U team, friends and coaches. Wamsley and Nathan on the microphone creating the "mood", teams everywhere, Redline team trailer with a great food selection and lots of smiles! Here is Kristi warming up.

It was great to "get the cross family back together" and see so many cycle folks out on bikes getting the season going. I must admit I was having a hard time letting summer go until yesterday, now I am full on ready for the Fall!

I was having a blast in the masters A race, what a fun course! I have yet to hear how our other team members did but there were a good number of Boot Camp hard cores out there putting our teaching to use.

ASC O'boy Oberto did a great job with this race, it has really become a tradition to start the season here and this course was better than previous years with less sand and running and more emphasis on turns and handling which is what everyone needs more of this time of year. It was also a nice suprise to get some new turns put into an old course, particularly a couple right handers with less than stellar traction on downhills, adding to the single track to really take the rust off the old cornering skills. I brushed more than a few sticker bushes and was flying the outrigger more than I like.
Thanks to Jimmy Hendrix and Wick and co for keeping those trails wide and smooth from a summer of MTB Wednesday nights. I have never seen it in better condition. The start was also better with a bit shorter pavement and a nice smooth left hander with plenty of room before the hole shot to give everyone a chance to find their spot.

Coach Toby took #1 in elite men by over a minute, coach Kristi won the womens elite race in similar fashion. It was cool to see Kristi railing the corners and really putting the step through dismount to use on those 2 barrierrs!

This is the Team Tomato women warming up, lots of tents and teams showing some pride! Another shot of Holden Berg, rocking the big boy course, behind him you can see the "run or ride up" that I have to brag that I rode every lap.

The key? Hit it with everything you've got on the approach and then shift down to nurse it over the top. Good power work! The course had just the right mix of small sections with recoveries, really well laid out. No monster sections, just short doses of skills and power with enough pavement to get some recovery.

Can't wait to see everyone at the next one.

Great start to the season.

Coach Craig