Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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cyclingcenterdallas
11:26

Tips for Adapting to the Summer Heat

Man, it was Hot Out There! I was going great, and then... Adapting to the heat of Texas Summers is an absolutely critical part of training for cyclists. When we move through the air, we end up deceived by the evaporation of sweat, which provides a small cooling effect, and heavier moisture content in our respiration. However, heat really is the enemy, as our bodies are forced to handle heat from our muscles and organs, and also from the environment. You'll sometimes see cyclists warming up for races in hot weather, with ice vests and chilled water splashed all over their heads and bodies, as they attempt to keep their systems in the torso cooled, even while their legs are prepping for the upcoming event. These options are clumsy and expensive, however, and North Texas cyclists rarely have the time or resources to dedicate to these solutions, so it's critical that we learn to adapt! Adapting to the heat is something that researchers say takes about 2 full weeks. You can experience, if you shock your system with a ride that is far outside your body's zone of comfort, cramping in the muscles and in the gut, and a general decline in immediate performance. This is measurable with either a sharply higher heart rate, a sharply lower heart rate, and decreased wattage output given a certain level of perceived effort. For indoor cyclists, there are actually some innovative ways to help your body adapt to the higher heat and humidity. 1.Start by turning off your fan. I don't like this at all, but I do it in my efforts that begin in late February or early March. Turning off a fan eliminates a source of cooling through evaporation, and it creates a micro-climate around your body that can raise skin temperature by one or two degrees. You sweat more, your performance decreases, and your thirst levels either go up as you try to stay cool, or, conversely, drop precipitously as you trick your brain in to thinking that it's not thirsty until it's far too late. This is the time when cramping for even experienced cyclists can arise, and it's not until you actually achieve adaptation that the cramps become mitigated. 2.In 1996, preparations were made by cyclists all over the world for the Atlanta Olympic Games. The Europeans, including Gold Medal winners Bart Brentjens and Paola Pezzo, showed up prepared for the humidity. Brentjens trained for weeks in a climate-controlled Sauna, which mimicked to the degree the heat of Atlanta in August, and the humidity. Pezzo trained on the coast of Italy, on a course that best-mimicked the terrain demands of the Atlanta race. The Americans, led by the belief that they need quality training in a low-stress environment, went up to Colorado, where they trained in cooler temperatures, lower air densities, and lower levels of humidity. When the results were tallied, the Euros beat the tar out of the Americans, and our only medal was earned by Susan DeMattei, who bucked the trend and trained in the Appalachians, closer to the race itself. She finished 3rd. The expected and respected Americans, especially the other female, Juli Furtado, finished a distant 10th or something like that. Those who trained at altitude, thinking it would give them a boost, weren't prepared at all. You too can prepare for the heat and humidity of summer cycling, and you can do it indoors and out. Take a few weeks and train in a warmer climate, with more surrounding humidity. Your performance will initially decrease, but over time, say, two to four weeks, your persistence will pay off with a return to more expected levels of power and heart rate, a return of your thirst, and a more economical engine. It still pays off to drink a carb and salt solution energy drink, if only to replenish electrolytes and the hydraulics that are our circulatory system, but it's better to prepare for the environment, than to have a poor performance, and wonder what happened and why. Quick note: If you are suffering from cramps on a regular basis, check out this great article in NY Velocity, about the topic, the mystery of cramping, and the answers that we do and don't have. I am NOT a big fan of the site - it seems to be rather vindictive in its' nature, but the contributions by authors like Scot Willingham make up for it with good content. Here's the link: http://nyvelocity.com/content/coachingfitness/2010/muscle-cramping-0

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cyclingcenterdallas
10:07

“How can I improve, Rich?”

Here in North Texas, rally season is in full swing, after what ended up becoming a weird, wet, and mostly colder spring that kept more riders inside than outside enjoying the rides. Now, I'm all for indoor training, but let's face it – we do what we do indoors two or three times a week, so that we can enjoy ourselves more fully outdoors when the weather is good. After what seems like a pretty mediocre first half of the cycling season for me, things in the past two weeks have been looking up, and my form is actually coming along pretty well. I'm proud of my strong rides in the last two rallies, and this is where the theme of today's title comes from. Here I am, almost 40, riding at the front of the pack, taking solid pulls, shedding weaker riders, and finishing strong, on what may be about SIX HOURS A WEEK of training. Maybe. Yet after the rides, when the top 10 or 20 of us are reliving the ride, recovering with drinks and food, and watching other cyclists come through the finish line, I am always approached by other cyclists with the perpetual question... “How can I get better at this?” It's a loaded question, and it can NOT be answered easily. But the simplest answer is the one that I'll borrow from Eddy Merckx, and will also augment. “Ride Lots” and “Train Smart”. The development of a cyclist mimics the growth curve of a human being... It resembles a lazy “S”. It's concave-curvilinear from birth through early adolescence, when it sort of flattens out, and then it becomes convex-curvilinear, where it starts to trend toward a flat horizon. The limitations of the curve are based on three things: age, the time limitations you place on yourself for training, and experience. Talent is also in there as well, though it's hard to measure when you need to focus on the previous three issues. Most of the people that come to me are older (above 35), have less experience, and really don't have that much time to train, given the mix of career and family obligations. “Ride Lots” becomes “Ride When You Can”, and that leaves us with the effort where I can help... “Train Smart”. Training Smart means that cyclists who want to improve need to go through systematic, dedicated, perpetual adaptation to higher intensities of cycling. In my studio, we use Wattage to measure that intensity. We use CompuTrainers and ErgVideos to give cyclists a 12 week protocol of Progression, hitting specific energy systems that improve specific aspects of cycling's demands. Cyclists go through 4-to-6-week “Meso-Cycles” where they will be challenged on one specific energy system in which they'll be optimizing their performance. Then, we test to see if it has led to a specific result, and change to a different energy system, on a different Meso-Cycle. Progression in intensity continues until the end of the Period, which is where we back off slightly, re-test, and then once again shift modes. Cyclists who use this protocol, show up for every class, warm up properly, come with the right attitude, pre-workout and mid-workout fueling strategy, and GIVE IT ALL in the time allotted, will see results in the following four areas of cycling demands. Stamina – Stamina is perhaps the most critical of all the values by which a cyclist can gauge improvement. Stamina means that you have the ability to ride further, longer, and stronger. Hills don't leave you exhausted. You don't bonk on longer rides. Think of Stamina as being the model by which your speed and efficiency both increase. Gaining Stamina is all about holding a steady pace at a moderately hard effort. Your rides get longer, if not necessarily faster. Speed – Speed is all about improving Stamina while also learning how to react to terrain and other riders' actions more quickly. Speed is about finding the right gear, at the right time, and pedaling early enough to get over terrain, or to bridge to the natural separations that occur in a group ride, with enough subtlety that it is barely noticeable. Speed is about being fluid. Speed is a reactionary response to a perceived demand. Strength – It's hard to define the concept behind “He's a Strong Rider”. Strong Riders mix Speed and Stamina to 'crack the whip' and tax their legs, lungs, and heart so that THEY dictate the terms to the terrain, the wind, and the pack, if they're riding in one. “Strong” riders are efficient, but they're also able to recover more quickly from hard efforts, or repeated hard efforts. They also derive strength from mental development, which is equally crucial. At the Cycling Center of Dallas, riders develop both physical and mental strength from workouts via the shorter, sharper intevals that we go through in certain meso-cycles, and the different (and decreasing) recoveries that they get in between those intervals. Skill – Skill is something that is mostly developed through experience, both indoors and out, but indoors, experience is gained from knowing just how hard an effort is, what cadence is best for that effort, and what it will do for the rest of the ride. I always tell my clients - “It's not the fact that you can do one, single effort at a certain wattage output. It's the fact that you can string together multiple efforts at a lower wattage that will help you define your improvement as a cyclist.” We'll talk more about meso-cycles and the “Four S's” in later posts, but for now, think about this – If you're a professional in a career outside of cycling, and you enjoy the sport for recreational purposes, but you feel you have room to improve, “Train Smart” is your best option. At the Cycling Center of Dallas, you'll be challenged every session, on a proven plan, and will continue to see improvements in your capabilities as a cyclist, through fitness, and fun!

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cyclingcenterdallas
13:50

MS150/164 Images from my own "Feisty Devils!"


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cyclingcenterdallas
14:27

MS150 reports coming in...

Completed thus far: Jim Kasle, Carlos Sepulveda, Rost Ginevich, Sally Nobleman, Anne Gogola, Shannon Miller, not sure if Christy McWilliams is with them or not. But Hats OFF to the riders who have completed the highest volume of cycling in their careers!

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