It’s easy, it’s free, and it works – for many. With visualization, you can build self-confidence, rehearse riding skills, simulate handling challenging situations, and approach the actual experience of achieving any of your goals…all in the cozy corners of your own mind. The mentally fit cyclist harnesses the power of the imagination to improve performance on the bike.
Greater power and big wattage is what we’re all seeking on the bike with training. One way to achieve that is strictly through improving our biomechanical connection to the bike through a better bike fit. And with cycling being all about pedaling, one avenue may be through optimizing our crank length. What is the state of our knowledge concerning optimal crank length? Does size really matter?
Part 1: Athletes and coaches have a responsibility to consider development across time of a full spectrum of skills, tactics, and physiological systems. Istvan Balyi, one of the world’s pre-eminent voices in athlete development, offered his assessment of both long term athlete development and shifting paradigms in coaching at the recent USA Cycling Coaches Symposium.
Have you been performance tested? If you’ve yet to take this step, off-season is a perfect time to start – or to compare your current fitness to a prior baseline. Every test tells us something important about each athlete and, when compared to a previous test, it shows how well the training program is working to help them achieve their specific goals.
Tell the truth: How much do you want it? Desire is rocket fuel for your cycling experiences. It can get you over fear. It can give you access to your deepest sources of energy, strength, and power. It can make the difference between missing out and getting the most from your cycling – and yourself. The mentally fit cyclist knows how to tap into every possible ounce of desire in reaching for goals, growth, and fun on the bike.
This article was originally intended it to be a straight ahead supplement recommendation. Sort of a top 10 list of the most highly recommended supplements for cyclists. In order to create that list I went to see Dr. David Allen one of the leading doctors in the field of alternative and integrative medicine. However, after talking to Allen I realized that this topic was not as simple as I had thought. Supplementation is unique to each athlete and what works for one person might not work for another.
We spend time, lots of time, looking at the minutiae of training. What watts are necessary to produce what outcome. How much carbohydrate to take. Which tires produce the least rolling resistance. It can all be very engaging, and very fatiguing. Rather than looking at another study or angle on high performance training, let’s spend some time in the real world.
Many people are afraid to get on a bicycle because they are uncomfortable riding in traffic. Motorists may honk with annoyance at cyclists, often leaving the rider confused about what aggravated the driver in the first place. Most cyclists will tolerate traffic but may be uncertain how to behave or react in different situations. What can you do to minimize your risk when riding a bicycle in traffic?
As we conclude the 2010 road season in the northern hemisphere, now is a good time to look back on this past season and start looking forward to 2011. Notice I said “road season” and “northern hemisphere.” With cycling being so global and having multiple disciplines, some athletes are just beginning their cross season! The point is this exercise can be done at any major time of transition.
The thrill of beating a competitor to the finish line. The satisfaction of leaving it all out there. The fulfillment of helping a teammate. All are welcome rewards of competing. But what can the heat of competition transform within you? The mentally fit cyclist uses competition to grow not only as an athlete but as a human being – to develop the self-awareness, emotional skills, and authenticity that translates directly into better experiences on and off the bike.
The silly season they call it. This time of year we start getting hints and suggestions about who might be going where, what teams are folding, what teams are merging, and which of your favorite stars will be in what colors come 2011. What about you? Chances are if you are reading this you probably compete at some point, for something and maybe, just perhaps you are looking for the next step.
For many of us, a highlight of the cycling year is a multi-day cycling event. For some, it’s a stage race. For others, it’s a bike tour. As we know, one of the keys to making such events tolerable, let alone enjoyable, is good food. Eating well and properly is not only good for the morale, but it’s critical in ensuring adequate recovery for another day of hard effort. What do elite cyclists do in terms of eating and energy output over the course of a hard stage race?
It’s the final weeks of the summer and a long season of riding and training has gone under our wheels. For some, it’s a holding pattern before the “official” off-season. For others, it’s hanging onto fitness for one last big event. And a third group might be trying to transition from a full road season to cyclocross. What are some things that we can do to keep that morale mojo to the max?
Your teammates aren’t cooperating enough in races. A fellow rider is at risk – or is putting others at risk – but is unaware. The peloton needs organization to catch the breakaway. Both on and off the bike, you have many opportunities to influence other cyclists for their benefit, for yours, and for the good of the team/group. The mentally fit cyclist uses leadership skills to seize those opportunities and improve the cycling experience.
August has been sweltering for much of North America and Europe, and we know that hyperthermia can have a major negative impact on our performance and even health. Many different methods have been suggested for pre-cooling prior to exercise, but some are limited by their practicality in the field. One simple solution may be to cool from the inside out by ingesting cold drinks, ice, or ice slurries. Pre-race slurpee, anyone?
August is a dangerous month; a full season of racing has left many athletes tired and ready for the fall break. Often motivation to train hard wanes and a season’s worth of fitness can disappear in a few weeks. Rather than tossing away all that hard work, here are a few workouts to help pull you through those hot August sessions.
As both a coach and fan of bike racing, I always watch the tour (or any bike race for that matter) with a “coaches eye”, always looking for things that I can use to help my athletes improve. Here are just a few of the many observations I picked up this year.
Why spend months preparing for an event when all you really need is a few weeks? The reason unfortunately is that it takes more than 3 weeks to create significant fitness improvements, but what if you don’t have months? Can any positive change be made in a shorter period of time and if so, what is the shortest possible time frame?
Support for your riding comes not only from other people in your life. It also comes from you. Or does it? Giving yourself what you need – and not giving yourself what you don’t need – affects your performance, fun, and results on the bike. The mentally fit cyclist knows what kinds of self-support are most important, along with when – and how – to provide it.
If you're going to spend >$1000 for a power meter on your bike, it only makes sense to learn how to use it properly rather than as a very expensive speedometer. By far the best instruction manual I’ve seen is “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, Ph.D. Now in its 2nd Edition, the book has enough scientific detail and analysis to satisfy even the most demanding numbers junkie, while remaining readable and useful to even the casual power enthusiast.