Time trials are all about “leaving everything on the road.” You want to pace yourself so that you hit the finish line with nothing left in the gas tank. Many strategies for achieving this have been proposed in the scientific literature. The other question to ask is what the effects of ability are on pacing strategy, and whether such strategy is ingrained or learned.
While the “work hard play hard” philosophy may be a great approach to striking a work-life balance, the motto cyclists and all athletes should subscribe to leans more towards a “work hard rest harder” philosophy. Many recovery modalities have been suggested and adopted, but how well do they work for recovering between hard training bouts?
Time trials will always be the race of truth, where you cannot hide in a pack and your fitness and willingness to suffer is there for all to see. While fitness remains paramount, the smart racer will still be at an advantage if they can figure out the optimal and most efficient way of putting that power to the pedals and onto the road…
Time trials may seem to be simplistic “may the strongest rider win” events, but even such a blunt test of strength remains open to smart riders who do the best job of thinking through their strategy. One major component of good time trial strategy is pacing – what is the best plan for metering out your precious wattage?
The intent of this week’s Toolbox is two-fold. As always, the primary goal is to explore an interesting scientific question. In this case, can you predict ultimate success in cycling based on test scores? Secondly, it is to honour Pez-friend Dr. Aldo Sassi and to wish him the best in his health battles.
Post-Tour, the pros are decompressing from an immense physical and mental pressure cooker. Other pros are starting their late summer peak, while many of us are aiming to eke out a last bit of fitness before the fall begins. So it’s a great time to keep our focus on fatigue. This month, let’s see if there’s any way to protect ourselves from fatigue and performance impairment…
In my last article, I looked at the issue of sports confidence by comparing and contrasting two recent days I had on the bike, one full of fire and confidence and the other the opposite feelings of self-doubt and thoughts of quitting. But enough about rank amateurs like me, what about the top professionals?
When cycling, we are all seeking the Holy Grail of peak fitness and form, that “no chains” day where riding seems effortless. But besides optimal physical preparation, the other important and often overlooked ingredient is effective sport psychology, and the role that confidence plays in peak performance.
After a few years of gaining a gradual foothold in the pro peloton, non-round chainrings have gone big-time, first as unbranded chainrings for Carlos Sastre’s 2008 Tour win, and now as a major sponsor for the Cervelo TestTeam. True to its Spanish roots, a new study from a Spanish research group investigates their efficacy.
Over the past decade, non-round chainrings have made big inroads in the pro peloton and in the mass cycling market, led by Rotor and O-symetric. Given the complex muscular coordination required by pedaling, the theory of non-round chainrings of facilitating a smoother pedaling stroke can make sense, but what does scientific testing tell us about their performance?
Carbohydrates are known to be an important fuel for peak cycling performance. It’s the preferred fuel for the high-intensity efforts, and its availability is often seen as a limiter for performance. Carbohydrate drinks are therefore often used to deliver both fluids and energy during cycling, but can carbohydrates serve as a special ergogenic aid by tricking you into riding harder?
Cyclocross season is steadily progressing from the early season of warm and dry race days to the downright miserable and ugly weather that define the sport. With such nastiness, the temptation may be to skip the warmup and just hammer off the start line. Does a warmup really gain you a concrete advantage, and what type of warm-up might be best?
To get to where you want to go this year, you need to know where you are now in terms of your fitness. Information is power, and the whole point of training with power is to provide as much information as possible to guide your training. One important path towards this self-knowledge is through regular testing and determining your power profile.
For amateur cyclists, one of the best reasons for cycling is the big appetite you can satisfy after a big ride. For pros, eating can be just as much a part of the job as the hours on the bike itself. We all know that part of proper recovery involves the right nutrition after a workout, but what factors affect post-exercise appetite and how might it impact recovery and weight control?
If music is the soundtrack of our lives, it is also the lifesaver for indoor training. While everybody grooves to their own drummer, is there an actual ergogenic effect from playing music during intense efforts? And what can studying music and exercise tell us about how we psychologically cope with intense efforts?
Much of our training for cycling revolves around what we do on the bike. However, without a strong brain and psychology, the strongest body can be like a sleek and aerodynamic time trial bike with the front brakes rubbing hard against the rim. To unlock your cycling potential, it pays to spend some time this off-season thinking through the mentality that can make you faster on the bike…
Cycling is a big business and pro cyclists are rolling billboards for their sponsors. However, to a sport scientist or a discerning coach or athlete, top cyclists are also rolling labs on two wheels. That is, by analyzing their training and racing data, we can gain valuable insight into what contributes to their elite performance.
It may not be the hottest Tour on record, but summertime involves lots of miles in hot and sometimes steamy conditions. Hydration advice for athletes has lowered dramatically over the past decade, but doubts remain about the ability of individual thirst patterns to sufficiently combat dehydration and potentially impaired performance. So can athletes maintain hydration status without being forced to constantly drink?
While power training may be all the rage, the high tech toy of choice for the majority of cyclists is the heart rate monitor. One important question to ask is exactly at what heart rate should one be working at to optimize training time and efficiency? The first thing to understand is the different ways by which scientists and coaches base their heart rate training zones.
There is the old saying that ”Everything old is new again” and this can apply to much of sport science and training. While power-based training and dissecting every micro-watt in multiple permutations appears to be the dominant “new wave,” do not forget that there are other ways to monitor fatigue and predict performance that have been around for a long time and that can be much simpler, cheaper, and potentially just as effective…