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
12:29

21 Days of the Tour de France, 21 Tips for Cycling in July! - ROUGH ROADS!!!

Cobbles
Can you believe it? We're only four days in to the Tour de France, and there's been enough drama and action for a month's worth of cycling!

It seems like the people that design the course every year, scheme of ways to challenge the cyclists and their teams, while providing incredible sights for tourists and the global audience. Today's section, with over 18 miles of roads built from cobblestones, will literally jar the handlebars out of a regular cyclist, and when the weather is poor, these roads are almost impassible.

Riding a bike out on the road is always a challenge. There's wind, weather, temperatures, traffic, and of course, construction zones. While we all wish for smooth asphalt, courteous drivers, and no debris, the fact is that this is rarely the case.

When you ride on rough roads, there are a few things you can do to make the ride a little easier.

First, take a little air out of your tires. Modern tires are so good that they can be ridden well below their maximum pressure, and a tire with some cushion can absorb a lot of impact and road buzz.

Second, ALWAYS wear gloves. Gloves help you ride with less strain, and most modern gloves absorb impact as well.

Third - keep your chin up, and look down the road. Usually, there are areas where motor vehicles have already rolled, and their weight has compressed the earth a little, under the areas of their tires. When you ride in the right or left wheel well, things definitely get smoother.

Fourth - this is one area where you MIGHT consider a lower cadence, if only to help you maintain some torque and balance.

Finally, if you encounter rough roads more often than not, consider riding a wider tire, or buying some wheels with wider rims. Modern racing wheels are actually getting wider, and modern tire recommendations are now down to below 100 psi for most cyclists, unless they're really big.

Thankfully, most modern roads don't use cobblestones or brick. Cities and States employ asphalt and concrete. But asphalt can be rough on the joints of a cyclist, and concrete can break up from weather. Ride aware, ride within your limits, and be prepared with good equipment and fitness.

Cycling on rough roads doesn't have to be a drag, or prevent you from exercising. They're just another skill you can award yourself when you've overcome their challenges, giving you more opportunity to ride when and where you want, for whatever reason!

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Coach Wharton
16:06

Why We REALLY Want You to Show Up about 30 Minutes Early...

Everyone has been there before. You make a commitment to an appointment, and then something gets in the way that makes you run late. Traffic sucks, the lights are always red, there is an accident or a re- route, or you forgot something and had to turn around. But at Cycling Center Dallas, there are several important reasons why we schedule our classes when we do, and ask that you arrive as close to half an hour early as possible.
 
First and foremost, let's face it: getting a bike out of your car, putting the wheel back on, rolling it into a studio from a distance, and then getting it properly installed on a trainer, always takes time. While our coaches do our best to help cyclists with set up and tear down, it is important to remember that there are others who are attempting to do the exact same thing, and space is limited from the door to the back wall. Proper setup usually involves pumping up tires, making sure that you have enough water in your bottles, getting your shoes on, and if you are coming in from work, sharing our small space for bathrooms and dressing rooms. There's also the issue of our request that you purchase or use a steel skewer when you train with us. Those take time to install properly, and they must be checked like all bike equipment to ensure that they are properly fastened. So arriving 30 minutes early, allows us to account for many of the time delays that can pop up from the time you leave your car, to the time that we hit the start button.
 
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that we really want to give you the free time necessary to successfully warm-up and prepare for the workout. Our intervals are never easy, and it is important to be ready for the efforts. If you arrive 30 minutes beforehand, take about 10 minutes to properly set up and arrange your bike and gear, and then throw a leg over and begin to warm up, this is an ideal opportunity to burn a few extra calories, and prepare both physically and mentally for the upcoming workout. It is also a great time to chat with other cyclists, make new friends, review some of the outside rides, and speak with your coach about questions or issues that you may have had either in the studio or on an outside ride.
 
The purpose of a warm-up is to raise the body's temperature, mobilize the joints, and raise the heart rate. Ideally, it will allow you to raise your heart rate to roughly 70 or 80% of Max, and in our studios, we do this through raising and lowering wattage. It's best to start low, and use the time to relax your mind, rotate your shoulders and neck, focus on some deep breathing, and really get into the flow of pedaling. If you have not yet had something to eat or drink, this is a great opportunity to consume a few calories so that they are absorbed and enter into the bloodstream prior to the workout. This is also a great time to check everything from the bike, to the body, to the mind, to the spirit. This is all connected and can help you get the most out of the upcoming intervals.
 
Finally, a proper warm-up is necessary for us to get proper calibration on our CompuTrainers. If you warm-up both machines (the body as well as the bike), you will ensure a better workout. We also calibrate twice in our programs, a few minutes apart, so that the temperature of the load generator as well is the temperature on the tire, stabilizes. You don't need to worry about this too much, our coaches will take care of it for you, but it always helps when you show up early enough that you can get a good warm-up in.
 
When we fly out of an airport, we always allow for ample time, just in case something occurs en route. Think about your goals at Cycling Ctr., Dallas, and think about your fellow cyclists. Let's all make sure that we show up early enough to properly help with set up, and then properly warm up, so that we can all get the most out of every ride!

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Coach Wharton
17:19

Knowledge is Power, and Power Gives You Knowledge

Cycling Center Dallas Gives YOU the Power.
More than once I've heard the criticism that cyclists don't need to know that much about power, because they can feel there way through a ride, and if they are fit enough and strong enough they can perceive their way over Hills and Dales. Beginning cyclists will tell me that they don't need to know about power", because" all they want to do is just ride their bike." Well, I'll respectfully disagree. Because knowing what you can do over different and varying periods of time, in terms of power generation, how you can recover from those intervals, how many of those intervals you can perform, and just how hard each of those intervals is and what it does for your body, is the key to improvement. I used to teach spin classes on a regular basis, and those spin bikes were intentionally built without much in the way of hardware that could give you knowledge. Spin bikes remain high on MPower meant, in terms of the feelings that they leave you with when you have completed a session, but they remain vague on just exactly what it is that you can and you do accomplish.
 
The studios at Cycling Ctr., Dallas, give you all of the perception of empowerment, but also give you the instant feedback, the updated analysis of your ride, and the on site help of coaches who know exactly how to help you get through that quantity of intervals, the quality of each interval, and the overall volume required to help you get an effective training dose. When you train with a power meter or an ergometer, the knowledge gained can tell you exactly how hard you need to work to accomplish a goal. Now, writing outdoors is a fairly stochastic event. But when you have trained for myriad and multiple intervals in the anaerobic, maximal aerobic, and threshold training zones, your capacity to do work grows, while your perception of that intensity declines.
 
At Cycling Ctr., Dallas, we are adept at studying wattage and power output not just on a per interval basis, we study it on a per stroke basis, per workout basis, as well as empirically, which means all of your past workouts and how they build upon each other. We are also looking at cadence, speed, cadence on slope, posture, hydration status, and even heart rate, which you will notice I did not mention first. Heart rate training is just to broad and to individual, and too dependent upon too many factors, to properly establish precise protocols. Furthermore, we are also studying fatigue, energy output, power to weight ratios, etc.
 
But the bottom line here is that as a cyclist in my studios, you do not need to obsess over this if you do not want to. If you are simply looking for a convenient, safe, effective workout, this is the place. You will be challenged, and the music will be kicking, and the coaches will be tickling your chin, and helping you get through the workout, which will leave you spent but on the road towards improving.
 
All of this training with power gives you the knowledge necessary to improve. The knowledge that you gain can give you the power to become a better cyclist.

Knowledge is Power, Power Gives you Knowledge

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Coach Wharton
15:56

Handling the Heat - the Cycling Center Dallas Way!!

We often get asked - "How do you ride in the heat?! I can't STAND IT!" Well, there are no simple answers, but being native North Texans, we can give you a couple of pointers that will definitely make a difference.
  1. DRINK MORE, DRINK OFTEN, DRINK MORE OFTEN! - Take a look at this hydration chart. Start by looking at your weight, then, scroll over to columns two and three. I'm weighing in at 160-164 lbs right now, so I'm looking at a MINIMUM of 25 ounces per hour, and in times when I'm really pushing hard, 30 ounces per hour. Sometimes, when it's really hot and humid, I'll consume over 50 ounces per hour!Osmo Nutrition Hydration Strategy
  2. THINK about what you DRINK! - Most Sports Drinks trend towards a 6-8% sugar content. Everyone who knows me knows what a fan I am of Osmo Nutrition, and secondly, Skratch (both were developed by Pro Crush, Stacy Sims, who also had a hand in Clif Electrolyte formula). The hotter it gets, the more you want to consume something with fewer overall calories. You're NOT trying to get calories by drinking. You're trying to basically keep FRICTION DOWN at a CELLULAR LEVEL! Osmo is about 3.5% solution, and helps keep you cool. Furthermore, water in the bloodstream helps prevent the bonk better than just about anything else!
  3. DRINK BEFORE YOU HAVE TO! - Osmo and Skratch both have pre-ride solutions that will help act as anaerobic buffers, will help you basically retain water (your ring finger will get tight), and help you 'stay thirsty my friends' with their good salt setups. These aren't the most flavorful items (they tend to taste like seawater), but they REALLY work. *** Note - women - Try the women's formula at full-strength, BUT, if you feel bloated, then cut the solution down to 1/2 a dose of the powder, with a full dose of the water needed. It'll help you avoid an upset stomach. 
  4. It's not ALL on the inside! - One of the most important things we can do as cyclists, since we're exposed to the sun for hours at a time, is to protect our skin. Sunscreen makes a HUGE difference, and if you're a guy, they make 'mousse' that you can rub in your hair, which will help protect your scalp. Don't forget the small parts, like eartips, the upper neck, the hole in your gloves when you cinch up the velcro, and the chest, when your zipper is down.
  5. Fabrics Matter! - When you ride, your fabric can literally save your soul. Modern fabrics are designed to have SPF factors in the 30's and 40's, and the stuff that I've gone with, the Louis Garneau jerseys, are treated with a dip called ColdBlack, which literally repels about 40% of the IR rays per square cm that the Sun fires off every moment. Have you ever stuck your hand under a heat lamp at a cafeteria? That's IR energy! So think about that, the next time you're out there roasting. Think about how, for a few extra bucks, you could have something that is still breathable, still comfy, but also helps keep you skin that much cooler. And cooler skin, means less energy expended trying to keep you cool from the inside!                 
  6. You CAN be aero AND have great ventilation in a helmet! - Everyone knows that a helmet is a must these days. They're the 'last inch' of protection! But when you're NOT using the helmet as protection, you can expect a modern helmet to channel oncoming air in different ways over the scalp, so that any heat generated can be channeled out the back, and keep your head, literally, cooler. Again - check out the latest helmet from Louis Garneau - yeah, I'm a fanboy, but it really does work.                                                                                          
  7. What's in YOUR jersey pocket?! - Still too hot? Stuff your valuables like your wallet, keys, and smartphone in a waterproof pouch, and then FILL YOUR SIDE POCKETS TO THE BRIM WITH ICE!!! Yeah - that's right, ICE. Sure, it's messy. Sure, it's going to MELT ALL OVER YOUR LEGS AND LOWER TORSO. But you know what? IF WORKS!!!! Refill every hour that you're out, and watch your watts stay HIGH.                                                                                                                                                     (Photo Pending - you'll LOVE it!)                                                                                                          
  8. SONIC! WE LOVE SONIC SLUSHES!!! - Research shows that one of the most effective ways to keep your cool, is to consume beverages made from Ice Slurries. While we don't always have access to a blender while we're out on our rides, we CAN stop at the local Sonic, and have a Wet, HIGH SUGAR-BUZZWORTHY Slushie, in any color/flavor you like, and safely expect that it'll help drop your core temp quite well. Mmmmm!!!!                                      
So that's about it from me regarding this topic. I also have used unhosed Camelbacks filled with ice, and have let them drip down all over me. Furthermore, taking a gallon ziploc, filling it with ice, and then nipping the corners, allows you to stuff it under your jersey and against your back, where it'll melt and drip, much like the ice in your jersey pocket, and allow you to stay cool on an area that is filled with blood vessels that are close to the skin. 

Heat stroke is a real threat when the temps and humidity climb. I know - I've had one, and it left me with some damage to my right eye. But with proper strategy and precautions, you SHOULD be able to withstand the heat, and enjoy the ride!

Till next time! Leave With Nothing Left!!

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