skills

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Diagnose Your Climbing Weakness

I can't tell you how many times cyclists contact me and ask me to help them improve their climbing weakness, but they don't even know what climbing weakness is holding them back!  Do you climb better in the saddle or out?  Are you more efficient at a lower cadence or higher?  Do you tend to go out too hard and burn out too quickly?  Are you leaving speed on the table by being TOO conservative?  These are all questions you can answer if you're willing and able to head out, do a couple of laps of your favorite climb and sit down to take a look at your data.

Let's figure out how to find your climbing weakness and correct it!  Click through for my best tips on determining what's limiting your climbing capacity and a couple ways to correct it?

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Cornering: Understanding Apexes (Podcast #57)

Cornering is an important cycling skill to master if you're going to ride efficiently (and safely) and understanding apexes is a critical part of cornering properly.   Since there's so many potential spots for error, cornering is a fine balancing act comprising a number of different forces, but everything falls into place more easily when you can learn how to cut an apex properly, and how to choose the proper apex for each corner you encounter.

Cutting an apex allows you to do a number of things more safely, including carry a higher amount of speed into each corner.  Knowledge of how to properly execute different apexes will also help to keep you out of trouble with traffic, prevent panic braking and set you up for any terrain that's beyond the curve in the road (even if you can't see it.)  Proper use of apexes will also foster and encourage proper cornering skills like correct weight distribution and looking through the turn to the exit point.

In this excerpt from my upcoming “corner like a pro” online course, I'll diagram different apexes and explain the nuances of each one.  Click through for more information and the key points to take home:

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Staying Safe In A Group

There are times when you'll find yourself in unfamiliar company, either on a group ride, a charity ride, a fondo or a race.  You'll be surrounded by people you don't know, you're not familiar with their handling skills and you're not even sure if they are comfortable riding in a group.  In situations like these, you'll need to be on high alert and ready to defend your space and yourself.  Let's face it: if you're stable, sure afoot (awheel?) and not afraid of contact while you're riding, you're actually pretty hard to knock over and crash out.  If you're nervous, twitchy and afraid of contact (I.E. you panic and steer away from the guy bumping you) then you're going down sometime sooner rather than later.

Protect Yourself By Protecting Your Bars
Defending yourself includes the space immediately around you and especially around your handlebars.  Your bars are your lifeline to your bike: if someone knocks them or takes them out, you lose complete control of your machine and are significantly more prone to crashing.  If you're always defending your handlebars, you'll be a lot safer, you'll be a lot more stable and steady, a lot more confident and you'll be a lot less prone to going down.

In order to defend your space and your handlebars, follow these simple tips (and practice them regularly with your regular group ride buddies and teammates):

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Coaching: Rolling A Climb

Most people think a climb is over when you crest the top.  That's just not true.  In fact, the top of any climb is just the beginning of something else.  And that something else can be one of the greatest tricks in your arsenal.

To put in perspective how you can add a powerful weapon to your climbing quiver, let me ask you a question: How many times have you seen someone crest a climb, only to drop their head and soft pedal (or worse, coast) over the crest?

Let me ask you another question: How many times have you seen determined chaser manage to close a big gap by driving through the crest of that climb?

I know I've seen it all the way from the Pro Tour ranks down through the smallest group rides.  And I know that the guys riding out the crest of the climb are getting a lot of extra speed that the soft pedalers are missing out on.  I'll also tell you something: the physiological cost of that speed is really, REALLY small.

Read more about getting bonus speed in the hills after the break:

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Climb Like A Pro – Part 3 (Podcast #23)

Climbing up Tower HillClimbing is often the albatross that follows us around on our two-wheeled adventures. Long climbs.  Short power climbs.  Varying pitch.  Everyone has a weakness when it comes to climbing.  I've spent the past two episodes of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast defining what “makes” a climber and the importance of leg speed skills in your climbing, hoping to give you the confidence to go out and hit the hills like a pro.  This time, I'm going to put the last pieces of the puzzle in place.  You'll hear about breathing and rhythm, reading the road, breaking a climb into parts, and finally the discussion will turn to how to tackle a variety of climbs that you may encounter, including:

  • Short “roller” type climbs
  • Short “power” climbs
  • Mid-length climbs
  • Long “grinding” climbs
  • The ultra-steep, long climbs

As I promise in this podcast, I'm including a couple of links to previous posts that I've published:

Breathing (part 1) – Physiology

Breathing (part 2) – Putting Skills into Practice

Reading the Road

As always, if you're on iTunes, please leave a rating: it helps the show move up the rankings and allows me to bring this information to more and more people.  And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me with questions.

Check out the previous episodes of the “Climb Like A Pro” series:

Climb Like A Pro – Part 1

Climb Like A Pro – Part 2