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
14:27

Pacing Yourself For the Critical Power Tests

Power Testing is an important and exciting week! 
15 - 1

This week, we are going to determine just how effective this last block of training really was. If you are new, this a chance to establish a Critical Power and Anaerobic Capacity baseline.  You will be performing a three minute, eight minute, and thirteen minute test over two separate days. On Monday and Tuesday, we will be performing the 13 minute critical power test, and on Wednesday and Thursday, we will be performing the, eight minute and three minute tests. The goal here is to make sure that the tests are performed as hard as you possibly can perform them. You are trying to generate as much power as possible over those periods of time. These will be performed on a 2% slope, and they will be self – paced.   This is what you will see on your screen during the tests.

Thirteen Minute Critical Power Display v2
 

If you have never done power testing before -   Getting a power testing session under your belt  is especially important for you as we will finally be able to get your accurate Critical Power (CP), and find out where you are performance-wise, so we can measure your progress going forward. We will walk you through it and explain everything.   Your goal is to get the experience of your first power testing session and practice pacing, smoothness and using your gears and cadence to generate power over the duration you are testing.

For those who have tested before- this is a chance to try and beat previous records and measure progress. 

Pacing Strategies. We experimented with different ways to attempt to get the highest average power. In the past I have advocated that you start a little bit easier, and should try finish strong.

The goal for these tests will be to maintain an even power out. I will be giving you each a goal, based on your numbers during last week’s 3 and 8 minute Pre-Test intervals, and other data from the PerfPro analyzer software. You will attempt to find a power output you can maintain without having to slow down for most of the test interval.  The graph will look flat for a longer period of time.  In the last 90 seconds, you will start to push it.  Your power should continue to ramp up during this time until the end of the effort, when you should feel like you are unable to go much harder. Again - LEAVE WITH NOTHING LEFT!!!

Here is an image to show you what I mean… Pay attention to the Red Line. This is an Exponentially Weighted Moving Average, and it shows you your "Real Time" metabolic effort in watts.
Rising Intensity Version 2 on 13 minute test

Focus this week on maintaining a STEADY POWER OUTPUT for most of the test, following the wattage goal set for you by Coach Wharton. Then, with roughly 90 seconds to go, up the cadence, up the power, and shift to get as much out of your system as possible! It’s literally “CRITICAL” that you do so! It is, after all, a “Critical Power” test!

We have to get EVERY KILOJOULE of energy out of you, in order to get a good value. The more information we get, the better we can gauge progress, and capacity. We want your weekend rides to be more enjoyable, and will do everything we can to help you continue to improve your fitness and cycling knowledge, through the studio, software, and testing.

Here are some cool things we will know about you as a cyclist at the end of your power testing session.

·         Your Critical Power Number (CP, or FTP) – This is the number on your display. It is individual to you and determines how much load you get during your workout. 

·         Your Power Duration Curve -  This will reveal to us an accurate estimate of how much power you can produce during different durations.  For example, how much power you produce if you were to go as hard as you can for 2 minutes, or 4 minutes, or 10 minutes, or 50 minutes, without actually having to do a max effort for that duration. 

·         Your W prime  - This gives the coaches at CCD a better idea of what your capacity is to do shorter, harder intervals above CP, and recover from them.

I would wish you Good Luck, but you don’t need it!

You have
  • SKILL...
  • KNOWLEDGE... and
  • GOALS to GUIDE YOU!

See you at the studio!

 

PS – Be fed, hydrated, rested, and lightly salted before class. Hydration makes a HUGE difference!!

 


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Coach Wharton
17:51

A Quick Preview of the September and October 2015 Program at Cycling Center Dallas!

Get more out of every workout with the best trainers and coaches in the Metroplex!

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Coach Wharton
16:24

Stage 21: 21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Set a Goal!

Ascent

Well, it's over. The 21 stages have finished, the jerseys awarded, the elation, the heartbreak, the countryside, the millions of spectators... and now comes the Champagne.

These riders, their teams, directors, and sponsors, share a passion for this sport, and show that passion on the world's most beautiful stage. France in summer is like no place else, and if you ever get the chance to view it, or participate in a tour, give it a serious thought.

Most of these riders and teams are goal-oriented. When you ride, think about where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Think about the elation, the challenge, and the struggle as you accomplish those goals. If you find one goal is just a little too far out of hand, well, that's what Cycling Center Dallas is for - we live to help people become better, more accomplished cyclists and triathletes. It can't be done with your legs and lungs alone. It takes heart, soul, spirit, and a holistic approach. It takes good equipment, knowledge, and reinforced passion.

There's sort of a let-down in the last week of July and early August, when the Tour de France has ended. But in North Texas, we do have one incredible goal to look forward to and prepare for - the Hotter 'n Hell! Think you're up for the challenge? Register today and come see us - we'll help you get there!!!

We hope you've had a wonderful July, full of rides, sun, road, recovery, and revitalization. We've got a great program for August, and we'll be introducing several new training themes and ideas in the remainder of 2015. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and come visit!

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Coach Wharton
16:10

Stage 18 - 21 Days, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! "What's in YOUR Pocket?"

Pocket

Cycling is a pretty minimal activity. You just throw a leg over a bike, and start pedaling. However, most people want to stay connected, or have a way to get out of trouble if something should occur when out on a ride. That's why bike jerseys have pockets, and bike shops sell saddle bags!

Let's take a look at what's inside my jersey pocket/saddle bag.

Currently, I keep the following on my person:

  • Phone (Charge it, but don't necessarily look at it! Keep it protected from sweat and moisture).
  • Tire Tube Patch Kit - the new superpatches work great!
  • Tire sidewall patch kit. Park Tool makes something that will get you home.
  • Tire Tools (I carry three, since these tend to snap in two at times).
  • One extra tube (make sure it's the right size (650c, 700c), and that the nipple is long enough to fit in any of the new, aero wheel rims).
  • TWO Co2 cartridges (always carry a backup just in case - cartridges can be finicky).
  • A "Cool-Tool", with allen wrenches, maybe a philips head and regular head screwdriver on there, maybe even a chain-breaker...
  • Money - I usually carry two $10 bills.
  • Business Cards. Because, well, you never know...

You can add or subtract from this list, but it's always a good idea to be prepared. Take a maintenance 101 class at your local bike shop as well, because you'll end up with a good idea of what to do if you experience something when cycling.

Remember - the vast majority of your rides will be event-free: Cycling should be mundane. But it never hurts to be prepared, mentally, physically, and equipment-wise!

Being prepared means knowing what causes events and anomalies to occur, and riding in a way that those events are much less likely to happen in the first place. Being fit and improving through our classes will help you be more prepared.

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Coach Wharton
15:43

Stage 12: 21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! - DESCENDING!!

Descending

As much fun as we're having watching the climbs in the Tour de France, the DESCENDING has been phenomenal!

Road bikes are really amazing machines. They're lightweight, aerodynamic, stiff, yet comfortable, and they're suspending hundreds of pounds between two wheels, put together with carbon fibre and steel or aluminum spokes. Descending on a bicycle should be done with safety in mind first, and confidence in your own abilities, as well as the bicycle's braking system.

To begin, think about the word "modulation". Modulating your brakes means that you can squeeze them more gently, and apply braking power on a steady basis, instead of just squeezing for an "all or nothing" approach. Brakes work best when you start early. Then, as your speed declines, you can increase or decrease the pressure, which will decrease or increase your speed as you descend.

Davis Phinney taught me, back in 2005, to always descend in the drops, and not on the hoods. This does two things: It lowers your center of gravity, but it also allows you to 'Stretch' the bike, and apply force to both the saddle, pushing backwards, and the bars, pushing forwards. When you do this, you can control the bike better, and descend with more confidence.

Even though you may be descending and your body may be in an unusual position, ALWAYS keep your chin up, and your eyes forward, so you can see the road. There may be debris or potholes to avoid, there may be something requiring more braking, slower traffic, etc. Likewise, whether you're passing someone, or they're passing you, even in the wind, COMMUNICATE VERBALLY. ALWAYS announce yourself when passing!!!

Descending requires knowledge of your balance. When making a turn, brake early, and pedal backwards until the OUTSIDE FOOT is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Then, when you start the turn, you can lean in to it a little better, and use your inner thigh on the straight leg to help with steering.

There is VERY little steering in descending, but a LOT of leaning.

Descending requires some core body work and balancing skills to improve, so don't hesitate to contact a coach or trainer at CCD or OBC who can help.

Whether your descents are just a few seconds, or as long as half an hour, there are ways to improve your cycling abilities through bike fit, fitness, skills clinics, and resistance/balance training. Contact Coach Tracy Christenson for a quick chat, and set up an appointment today!

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Coach Wharton
15:29

21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Stage 10 - HYDRATION!!

Hydration

As the Tour de France makes its' way south towards the Pyrenees, and then the Alps, the riders are going to be doing everything they can to stay on top of their hydration. But it's more than just water. They need fluids, electrolytes (salts), and carboHYDRATES, to get it down to the cellular level. As it gets hotter, take a look at this chart, and follow it on a per-hour basis.

Hydration Chart

Take your body weight on the left, and depending on how hard your workouts are, use the column in the middle as the minimum # of ounces per hour, and the column on the right as the # of ounces I PREFER when it's hot outside. For reference, a short-necked bottle is 20oz and a long-necked water bottle is 24oz.

But don't stop there: modern hydration products employ the best science to help you handle the heat and humidity, and I prefer OSMO and then Skratch. We have it at the studio, and it's available at bike shops and online. We don't recommend traditional sports drinks, as they're too concentrated, and won't be as effective.

This takes practice, but when you do it right, it almost feels as if you're 'running cool'. You're more fresh, more alert, and definitely ride stronger.

Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach have several methods to help show you just how important hydration is. Come by the studio or give us a call and we'll be glad to give you a demonstration.

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Coach Wharton
15:24

21 Days of Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! REST AND RECOVERY!!

Recovery

If cycling is a part of you, like it is for me, then it's easy to become compulsive. We LOVE the way we feel when we ride! We want more. We want to enjoy ourselves more, ride further, ride faster, ride longer. But what if I told you that as fun and exciting as being fit really is, well, rest and recovery are that much more important?

The riders in the Tour de France are human, just like the rest of us. If they have a bad night's rest, it can affect their entire Tour. If they don't eat enough, their bodies won't recover. If they don't drink the right kind of carbohydrates and proteins after a ride, their muscles won't repair themselves.

We can get really scientific about it all, but the important thing, is this:

Our bodies work better after rest and recovery. When you play hard, you have to rest harder. You need good food, good drinks, and rest. Take a day off now and then, and whether cycling or not, start practicing the following:

  • If you like Chocolate milk, bring some in a cooler and consume it right after a ride. Almond milk and oat milk are also great substitutes.
  • Have a real meal maybe an hour after a ride is over. Your body will thank you later.
  • NAPPING is a great way to heal and recover.
  • Sleep in cooler temperatures. Cold rooms are great. Cold showers after a hard ride are great. Ice vests are great.
  • Use the time after a ride as an opportunity to catch up on your hydration. I am STILL drinking my fluids, 2 to 3 hours after a ride.
  • Weigh yourself before and after a ride. That can tell you how much you're losing, and how hard you need to recover.
  • REWARD YOURSELF. Rest and Recovery will make you a BETTER CYCLIST!
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!

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Coach Wharton
13:56

21 Stages of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Day 9: Riding Together!

Riding Together

Riding alone is a critical step towards creating confidence and competence in your abilities as a cyclist. However, it can be a more anxious time, especially when, as a recreational cyclist, you're trying to 'balance' so many things, like your bike, yourself, knowing where you're going, avoiding obstacles, what route is best, traffic, weather, hydration, etc. I think the fulfillment of cycling as a sport and recreational activity reaches its' peak when you find a friend, or two, or more, and go for a ride. You can accomplish more, with less energy, and have a really great time as well.

Today's Stage of the Tour was a Team Time Trial. For many of the leaders, getting as many of their teammates to this point is critical, because they must all ride together. In fact, the clock won't stop until the fifth rider has crossed the line on each team. When you watch this stage, you can really see how the riders work together, sharing work, protecting their leader, riding in either long single lines, or two-abreast pacelines, to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest amount of time. When riders are this close, they're at their most efficient, but the chances of tragedy are also great. Crashes here can be catastrophic. It's the team that balances speed, comfort with each other, and knowledge of the terrain, that comes out on top, and the stage is always a game-changer.

When you ride with others, make a point of communicating. Set a pace that both of you can enjoy; if one of you is more fit than the other, accept this as a chance to do more work, and let the less-powerful cyclist ride in your draft. When you are employing a draft, ALWAYS signal your intention before changing lanes, stopping, or even slowing down - the trailing cyclist(s) may not always be aware of your intentions. Shift early, shift often, and focus on how, in a group, you'll all enjoy the ride more when you work together, trading pulls at the front, and being VERY smooth.

Group cycling is a truly advanced style of riding, and if you are aware of riders who may be anxious or perhaps had a previous bad experience, the Coaches at Cycling Center Dallas are specifically trained to help improve Confidence, Competence, and Communication in these situations. Give us a call and we'll set up an appointment for a group ride, in safe conditions, where we can all learn together.

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Coach Wharton
12:57

Day 8: 21 Days of TdF, 21 Tips for Cycling! ADVENTURE!!!

Adventure

"The Best Routes are the Ones You Have Not Ridden..."

The Marketing of the Tour de France is pure genius. France has fantastic and variable geographies, cultures, cuisines and specialties. The French truly DO know how to live. They're not afraid of time, and their focus is on making the best of every day. The Directors of the Tour embrace this, and show different cities, towns, roads, parks, and people, to a global audience that rivals the World Cup of Soccer. Even better - they do it every day for 3 weeks, and more.

Cycling is all about adventure. There are always new roads, new routes, new people to meet, and places to visit. Focusing too much on fitness can leave you missing the entire world around you. Even on your regular route - there are new houses, new cars, people having picnics or car washes, new restaurants or foodie trucks. There's the adventure of a new road; outrunning the dog on the porch who just noticed you; descending from a climb while in the drops; just basically feeling that the bike underneath you has disappeared, and you're gliding roughly 2 meters up from the ground.

As much as we promote training and fitness in our studio and around the world, the real benefit has to come from within. You have to feel better about yourself and your abilities; otherwise, we have not accomplished our goal. Once you've achieved a greater level of fitness, well, you'll get to ride further, faster, and stronger, and basically, you'll get to have MORE adventures!

The cyclists of the Tour de France are paid to race and win and support their teams, but all of them acknowledge the Epic Adventure that they also seek to join. Starting it is an adventure, and each stage that brings them closer to Paris, is a journey they and the audience will never forget. Go have your own adventure on your bike.

The key to any adventure is to show up prepared. Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach know how to prepare you physically, mentally, and spiritually, so that your next adventure, is just another stepping stone to a life spent cycling. Come visit!

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Coach Wharton
12:42

21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! Day 6: Energy and Power!

Energy and Power
When you ride a bike, in order to get anywhere, you have to pedal.

When you pedal, two things happen:

First, you burn energy in your body, which is measured in Calories, or if you have a power meter, it's measured in KiloJoules.
When you burn that energy, you generate Power. Power is measured in Watts.
Generating Power by burning Energy is what gets you down the road, whatever your reason or destination. When you burn more energy, you generate more power. And when you generate more power, you travel faster, further, and stronger. Most recreational cyclists can generate 100-200 watts, or 1 to 2 incandescent light bulbs, for an hour. At the Tour, they can generate 350-500 watts or more! Can you imagine?

It really is that simple. Burning energy, to generate power, is what gets you healthy and fit. When your body adapts, well, you get to burn MORE energy, generate MORE power, and get MORE FIT! I won't say it's a limitless cycle, but it's part of what makes bicycling so much fun, and it's my favorite part of being a coach - seeing people's bodies and spirits change through fitness, done by measuring energy, training to improve power, and sticking with it!

The cyclists at the Tour de France burn a LOT of Energy, but that's because they need to generate a LOT of POWER! People can spend a lot of money on fancy wheels, light and aero bikes, and cool shoes and helmets, but in the end, if you really want to be a better cyclist, you need to:

Burn more Energy
Generate more Power
Recover from these efforts, so you can adapt and do it again!
We'll discuss energy and power again later, but for now, just remember this fundamental: Burn energy, generate power, get more fit.

Repeat ad infinitum!
Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach have been pioneers in helping regular cyclists understand the benefits of training with power, and measuring energy in an accurate way. Download our app and register for a class today, so you can see it for yourself!

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