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Warming Up for Cycling In The Heat

Every time summer rolls around, I get a lot of questions about warming up in the heat.  People are riding, racing and training in the heat and find their performance suffering.  Even though it's hot, you can't skip your warm up, because much of your performance depends on priming your body properly.  These tips will help you optimize your performance during a warm weather warm up.

The importance of warming up

Warming up is a key to a high-quality performance.  Your body needs time to activate it's “aerobic machinery” before competing.  Until you really get the enzymes and pathways going, you'll be running on more anaerobic systems.  This means you'll burn matches faster and have less energy available when it counts.  By warming up, your body is prepped to produce energy through the electron transport system.  It starts oxidizing fats, giving you (nearly) limitless aerobic energy.  I'm sure you know from experience that a poor warmup will leave you feeling tired and weak during the beginning of your ride.

So warming up is really important, but what kind of warming up should you do?  In “The Pre-Race Warmup” I said the length of time you warm up is dependent upon the activity you're warming up for.  The longer the activity, the shorter the warm-up, and visa versa.  What I didn't talk about in that article were the factors that temperature and weather play in your warm up.

Check out the tips after the break to stay cool while warming up:

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Boost Cycling Fitness and Shred Fat with Fasted Training

One of the most efficient ways of kick starting your fat burning metabolism and boosting your cycling fitness is to partake in fasted training. As I've talked about before, your body is designed to utilize the energy substrates that are available to it to meet energy demands.  During fasted exercise, there’s a stark limit on the amount of sugar available. There is, however, a huge amount of energy available from fat stores, and you need to train your body to use it effectively.

Similar to how your body will adapt to exercise by getting fitter, your body will adapt to fasted training by increasing the amount of fat it can burn.  Fasted training helps to adapt your body to the stresses of hard training and primes you for a “train low, compete high” scenario where you’ll teach your body to be stingy in burning carbs in your typical training but supply it more on race day to ensure it's properly fueled.  This will not happen overnight, though. It will take months of work to increase the efficiency of your body’s fat burning machinery, and these fasted training tips will give you a significant edge in that quest.

As you start your fasted training protocols, keep in mind a couple of simple things:

  • Always carry some food with you to prevent bonking (and be prepared to eat after an hour of hard riding)
  • If you’re not feeling well or having an off day, skip the fasted training and eat something.  You can always go back to it later in the week.
  • Pay careful attention to your body: if you start to bonk badly or repeatedly, back down and rest a bit, and be sure to eat.

Bearing those “safety” concepts in mind, click through the jump to learn how to add fasted training to your cycling program.

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Tips To Crush Battenkill (And Other Gravel Grinders)

So you want to enter a gravel grinder event like Tour of the Battenkill, but you're worried that you don't have the skills necessary to compete?  Maybe you want to turn down that dirt road that you've passed a hundred times on your rides but you're nervous about staying upright on the gravel?  Or perhaps your goal is to tackle some tough, unpaved backroad climbs like those in the Vermont Green Mountains to prove how tough you are?

You're not alone.  Gravel grinder events have witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity in the past few years.  They have even spawned a completely distinct line of bikes and equipment.  The best equipment in the world won't help you if you don't know how to train for a gravel grinder, though.  I'll show you what you need to succeed.

Gravel Grinder Success Is In The Preparation

Many people think that success in a gravel grinder race or event like Battenkill comes on race day.  In fact, you can lose an event or miss a target goal by not prepping yourself for success along the way.  Whether you're nervous about riding on dirt roads or how to handle your nutritional requirements, I've got a few tips to help set your mind at ease and prepare you for the worst dirt roads you can imagine.

Click through the jump and pick up 6 tips to get you gravel grinding with the confidence of an off-road veteran.

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Tips to Avoid Getting Dropped

Getting dropped is one of the realities faced by each and every cyclist at some point.  The feeling of watching the group ride away from you can be demoralizing, but it's also a great learning experience.  What caused you to get popped off the back?  Did you make a tactical error?  Did you crack physiologically and just couldn't stay with the pace?  Did you break a chain or cable?

In this short podcast, I'll give you a few tips to help you avoid getting dropped from your next group ride, race or gran fondo group.  If you want to learn how to stick with the group, this is the podcast for you!

Click through for the show notes and remember that the sponsor for this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast is Stages Cycling.  Check out their power meters and help support the show, and don't forget to rate the podcast on iTunes!

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Video Quick Tip: Packing Your Pockets To Ride

Most of the people I see out riding have TONS of stuff with them; too much stuff in fact.  They have a big saddle bag full of tools, bits and bobs and their pockets are bulging with tire levers, tubes, clothing, pumps, keys, maybe a kitchen sink and a partridge in a pear tree.  The point is, the average cyclist takes far too much equipment with them on a training ride.

It's time to scale back a little bit and start getting some of the clutter out of your pockets (and saddle bag.)

Paring down to what you can fit in your back pockets can be freeing and you'll never forget something if you pack it all in systematically.  In this short video quick tip, I'll show you how easy packing your pockets can be and you'll see that you can pack everything you need into your jersey pockets with room to spare.

Things I carry every ride:

  • Energy Gel Flask (In case I spectacularly detonate during a long ride)
  • Tubular/tubeless tire sealant (switched to a Lezyne Pump and tube and patch kit if I'm running clinchers)
  • Multi-Tool (with a chain breaker attached in case you need it)
  • Keys (car keys or house keys)
  • Cleat covers (they have to go somewhere)
  • My “goodie bag” which has my ID, credit card, cash, a cheque, racing license (I carry a paper copy as well) and a Chap Stik
  • iPhone

You've still got room to roll up a wind vest or jacket, stuff in arm or leg warmers or gloves or shove a spare bottle into your pocket.  And you don't have to root through tons of stuff every time you stop and want to get your card out to pay for a cup of coffee.

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and don't forget to share this video tip with your friends and help them out too.