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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Coach Wharton

Stage 3: 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Short, Steep Hills!

Stage 3 Short Sharp Hills Tour de France 2015

As the Tour de France winds it's way around France and several neighboring countries, the terrain frequently dictates the challenges the riders and teams will face.

Today's stage is all about short, steep hills. These hills probably resemble some of your more local terrain. They're maybe 1/4 to 1 mile long, but they're anywhere from 4 to 12% steep. To overcome them, you have to apply some strategy.

The first thing to realize is that you're going to need to pre-shift in to an easier gear. Practice this on flat terrain first - you don't want to drop a chain off cogs, get them tangled, or shift in to a harder gear when you were intending to shift in to an easier gear.

Once you're in an easier gear, don't focus on the hill right in front of you - it will resemble a wall, and might be intimidating. Instead, keep your chin up, and focus on the FURTHEST POINT OUT on the road - often called the "Event Horizon".

With your chin up and your eyes focused on the end, arch your back, open up your chest, and pedal as if the bike was a front-wheel drive. PULL yourself up the hill, don't force it by pushing. When you pull, you'll use more muscles in your legs, and your power output will be more evenly distributed.

As the slope increases, you'll tend to tilt further forward, but this results in more fighting the terrain. Instead, think about how light you can make the imprint of the front tire on the pavement. Don't lift it up and pop a wheelie, but do think about how you can glide up the hill in a steady pace and cadence, without putting too much pressure on the front of your bike.

Eventually, you may need to stand, especially if the slope gets too steep, or the hill is just too long. But remember - climbing out of the saddle is inefficient, and you're doing it on borrowed time. Your cadence will slow down, and unless you're really powerful, or you're getting to the point where the slope may begin to ease up, then you may end up "hacksawing" (pedaling, but feeling like you're standing still between pedal strokes) your way up the hill, or blowing up completely, and being forced to dismount and walk.

Most of the hills in today's Tour de France stage are between 1 and 3 minutes long, but they'll be steep and hard enough to separate the riders. If your local hills are too much of a challenge right now, then you really should consider a training block of intervals at Cycling Center Dallas. Hills require some strength, and a lot of practice. We can show you how to be a stronger cyclist, on hills, and everywhere else you ride!

We hope you're enjoying the Tour de France, and your own cycling. If you want to improve your ability to climb hills, don't hesitate to give us a call or just drop by before an evening class. We'll see you out on the road!

Coach Wharton

Stage 2, 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! - "The Wind is my Friend. The Wind is my Friend!"

Stage 2 2015 Tour de France

Did you watch Sunday's stage in the Tour de France?! The theme of the day was... WIND!!!

The stage traveled over 100 miles on perhaps the flattest course ever, in a direction that ended up towards the North Sea. While the wind coming off the ocean may be great for sailors and flying a kite, it is definitely a challenge for any cyclist.

You have to be confident, you have to be strong-willed, and you have to be smart about where to position yourself when cycling in the wind. If you don't, you may end up working harder than you like, and traveling slower than you ever imagined.

The mantra I like to repeat to myself when I'm battling a headwind or a crosswind is this.

"The Wind is my Friend. The Wind is my Friend."

I repeat this mentally, and within my breathing pattern, and it helps me focus. I focus on holding an aerodynamic position on my bike, I focus on the fact that I'm still moving forward, I focus on trying to keep my cadence a little higher than I'd like, and I focus on the realization that most of the time, that headwind will turn in my favor and become a tailwind, be it in five minutes, an hour, or another day.

Cycling in the wind is inevitable. Some wind brings cooler temps and feels great. Some wind brings boiling, humid air to your skin and works to deprive you of energy. Some wind works with you, and some wind tries to blow your wheels out from underneath you.

The trick is to embrace it, stay focused, and penetrate it like scissors on fabric. Cutting through the wind with style leads to a smoother ride, and the ability to "ride" to the challenge!
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about this tip or your cycling fitness, give us a call or just stop by before our evening classes!

Coach Wharton

The Tour de France is Here! Read on for 21 Tips over 21 Days of Cycling in July!

Stage 1 Tour de France 2015

The Tour de France began on Saturday, and if you're a cycling enthusiast, there is no better way to celebrate cycling and fitness than to watch and follow the Tour!

The winner of Stage 1, Dennis Rohan, rode the 8.6 mile course (slightly less distance than a lap around Dallas' White Rock Lake), in just under 15 minutes. The other cyclists followed behind, with the slowest cyclist finishing in 18 minutes and 30 seconds. It was a flat course in Utrecht, Netherlands, and it set the stage for some incredible cycling to come.

Several cyclists commented on their ability to handle the heat, and it was only made worse, when they donned their skinsuits and aero helmets, which are designed to cheat the wind, but not necessarily ventilate heat from the head all that well.

What can YOU accomplish on a bike in 15 minutes? Try it and see. Can you keep pedaling that long? Can you do it seated, or do you need to stand? Are you cycling for leisure, or are you dedicating yourself to riding at increased intensity, so you can improve your fitness? Are you drinking enough fluid?

Fifteen minutes can feel like an eternity, but it can also be short enough that it's something you can accomplish. Next time you ride, inside or out, watch the clock. After a good warmup, see what you can do in fifteen minutes. Break it down in to 5 minute periods. Watch your cadence. Listen to your breathing. Shift when you start to grind your gears. They say that the faster your speed, the slower time travels, so live in the moment, take several drinks along the way, and when it's over, reflect on where you are, versus where you were that short time ago.

Dedicate yourself to fifteen minutes of intensity every day this week, be it all at once, or broken down in to intervals with recovery, and watch your cycling change!
Thanks, and if you have any questions about this tip or your cycling, give us a call or just stop by before our evening classes!


Exercise Pair Up: TRX Bicep Curl and TRX Get-Up

These two exercises are going to be a TRX bicep curl and what's called a TRX get up. They also pair well together because the get up is very full body and incorporates a little bit of lower body as well. What you see first is the starting position for the bicep curl. You're going to lean back and put some of your body onto the straps.  This provide your resistance during the exercise. The more you step underneath the TRX, the more weight you're loading on the straps and you will be lifting.

Keep in mind the bicep curl, you're working a smaller muscle so you're not 
bicep curl picgoing to want to load as much weight onto the straps as you would with a row. In the starting position your arms are extended.  I usually tell people " keep the upper arm from your elbow to your shoulder parallel with the floor". To do the movement, you're going to pull the palms of your hands up towards your forehead as you keep your elbows up and that section of your arm between your elbow and your shoulder parallel with the floor.

As you see here, the elbows stay up. You've got a nice 90-degree bend where the elbow is and my hands are close to my forehead. This [row 00:01:22] allows you to really center and isolate that bicep while keeping your position by keeping your core engaged. The biggest mistake I see in this exercise is people allow their elbows to drop to their sides and it basically turns it into a row at that point.

Next is a TRX get up. This exercise is awesome and it gets so many different movements at the same time. It can be a demanding exercise if you are a beginner or intermediate, so its ok to start with just a few repetitions and build from there if this is you.   You're going to start as you see in the video,  sitting on the floor and extending one leg while allowing the opposite leg to bend at the knee. Hold onto the straps with your arms extended and make sure you keep good posture with your upper body and torso.

There's several steps to this movement. First is you're going to push up through your bent leg to push yourself up off the floor and you're going to bring your straight leg up underneath you and next to the bent leg.  At the same time, you're going to pull yourself up as if you're doing a row with your upper body as you can see here. Go ahead and use your arms as well as your legs to get yourself off the floor into a standing position. Once you get to the top, extend your arms down and add a tricep extension on the bottom to engage that muscle in the back of the arm. Let's look at it again. Start from the bottom, step up, do your row and then do your tricep extension. Once you get to the top of the movement, to go back down, you simply reverse your movement pattern and descend back down to the floor to your starting position.