Being A Better Criterium Racer (Podcast #38)

Racing season is well and truly upon us, and here in the US we have a glut of the fast, closed circuit racing known as criterium racing.  Run on race courses that are generally less than 3K in length (that's about 1.8 miles or so), most crits are full of fast corners, accelerations, twitchy riders and (unfortunately) crashes.

Many people cut their teeth on criterium racing in Category 5, which can be prone to certain “issues.”  Because anyone with a bike and helmet can sign up to race cat 5, simple things like learning where to put your hands, braking safely, how to corner or how to hold a line are always suspect.  Taking the next step of knowing when to attack and simply how to train your energy systems to handle the rigors of crit racing are a few of the more advanced things you can do to be a stronger and safer crit racer.  Trust me, all those around you will thank you for it.

In today's podcast, I'll cover the following:


5 Tips To Accelerate Your Fitness (Podcast #37)

First ride of springHere in the northeast spring has officially sprung (despite the recent short stint of cold, rainy weather) and that means everyone is starting to take their training outside.  The big question is how do you get that boost to your spring training that makes you nigh on invincible on the Sunday group ride?  You may have been putting in countless hours on the trainer and rollers over the winter, but you may still have trouble when the speed ramps up or you find yourself unable to cover those massive group surges.  A little adjustment to your training, a little specific work to boost your higher end energy systems, and you'll find yourself pushing the pace at the front of the group instead of dangling off the back.

On this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I'll talk about:

  • The importance of having goals for your outdoor rides
  • How important it is to build your FTP (Functional Threshold Power)
  • How to ramp up your Zone 5 fitness
  • The importance of repeatability
  • The Fartlek concept
  • Why your recovery rides may be hurting you more than helping you

As always, if you enjoy what you hear, head over to the Tailwind Coaching Podcast on iTunes and rate it 5 stars.  Don't forget to post any questions to the Tailwind Coaching Facebook page, and don't forget to support our sponsors and help to keep this podcast free.

With the racing season quickly approaching, don't get stuck at the back of the pack or shelled on the first climb.  Check out my modular training plans in my online store and get started on the path towards killer fitness today.  And don't forget to save 10% with the coupon code in this week's podcast.

Cycling Events: Bang For Your Buck? (Podcast #25)

Gran Fondo RegistrationHave you said “wow, that's crazy!” as you looked at an entry fee for a race or event?  I'm 100% sure you're not the only one to do so.  In this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, Coach Rob and his guest co-host for the evening talk about the concept of value for your dollar when it comes to racing, riding fondos and participating in charity events.  They'll discuss the concept of value for your dollar, and draw from real world experience of trundling through various organized events, races and fondos.  They'll opine on free water bottles, finishers medals and entry fees as they speculate where the entry fee money goes, how much goes to charity and ways organizers can make their events more appealing (and affordable) to the average rider.

As always, don't forget to rate the Tailwind Coaching Podcast on iTunes, and get the discussion from this week's show going on the Tailwind Coaching Facebook Page.

Being A Better Bike Racer? Or when is racing actually racing? (Podcast #24)

Jumping off the start lineSit back for a moment and ask yourself the following question: “When is racing actually racing?”  Sure, it's a bit of a strange question, but really take a moment to think about it.  Is racing all about winning?  Is it about sitting in the pack until the last 150 meters before contesting a sprint?  Is it about patrolling the front of the peloton and covering moves, making breaks and closing down gaps before taking a flyer with a lap to go?  Is it about having the confidence in your fitness and race reading skills to take a pull or two and recover in time to make a winning move?  Or, on the other hand, is racing about hard work and riding cleanly (not chopping others in corners, for example) while putting up the best results possible?  Is racing about getting out there and getting your team's colors seen, even if you don't win?

Got your answer?  Good.

Keep that answer in your head as you listen to today's podcast where I discuss the concept of racing solely to win, racing to get your team colors out there, and what's inherently wrong with racing (in the beginner categories) these days.  I'll cover the concept of racing just to win (and what is and isn't wrong with that), the idea that each race is a new experience in tactics and skills, the concept of the “I'll let someone else do the work” mentality and why you should just stay home if you're willing to race for second place.  Finally, I'll touch on ways to make you a better bike racer: why you SHOULD take risks and try different things, especially at the beginner levels of the sport.  You have to spend some time becoming a better bike racer somewhere, and this is the place to try them.

Racing is different things to different people, so keeping that in mind, when is racing actually racing?  And when is racing NOT racing? (Spoiler: I think people are not racing when the sole focus becomes winning, as opposed to everything else that a race encompasses: tactical sense, risk and of course, failure.)

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” ~ Wilma Rudolph

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me or post on the Tailwind Coaching Facebook page.  Don't forget to rate the Tailwind Coaching Podcast on iTunes!

Post Race Perception

U23 men's crit sprint[dc]T[/dc]here's an uncomparably special feeling that accompanies racing.  The thrill of the pack, the ticking sounds of other racers rowing through gears, the hum and woosh of carbon tubular wheels cutting through the air and the heart thumping tunnel vision of the hard last push to the line gives way to the inevitable post race decompressing.  In those first few moments after the bike is thrown across the line, lunging for those last millimeters that could mean the difference between victory and defeat, we finally allow our senses to take in just how much searing, burning pain we have in our bodies.  We experience the aching strain of trying to suck every last molecule of oxygen into our carbon dioxide riddled lungs.  We feel the buildup of lactic acid tickling raw nerve endings in our legs.  Maybe we even have to shake off the adrenaline fueled jitters that accompany the frenetic dash to the podium.

[pullquote]We finally allow our senses to take in just how much searing, burning pain we have in our bodies.[/pullquote]Even as we warm down, letting the stress of our effort melt away as we spin our legs aimlessly, we begin to take notice of the distinct feelings that only can accompany a good, hard race.  It's an almost indescribable, sweet sensation of "job done, now it's time to let it all hang out."  As time wears on, we rack our bike and unpin our number so that our racing strip is ready to be laundered and hung for the next round of combat.  Through all of it, we feel those telltale signs of a hard race: the tightness in our back muscles, the achy stiffness in the glutes, and the utterly spent feeling in our quads.  How I love the feeling of legs quivering while standing in the shower, warm soapy water cleansing and washing away victory or defeat (hopefully victory more often than not).  That feeling of stiffness, soreness and completely spent muscles is something to revel in, not shy away from.

It proves we've worked our hardest, no matter what the result.  It should be a reminder, akin to a battle scar, of what we have or haven't achieved.  But regardless of the outcome we achieved, it proves we've left it all on the road.  There's nothing quite as hard or impossibly special as racing, and our legs never let us forget that.