Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How To Pace Your Time Trial

Okay, I'm the last person on earth who should be giving tips on how to ride an individual time trial. However I can still pass on the "theory" behind a successful time trial. I don't claim to be very good at them (in fact, I HATE them). It's more that I don't train for them rather than not knowing the strategy behind them. "Strategy behind them" you ask? There's slightly more to a ITT than going as hard as you can.

Next time you go out and practice your TT over a set distance, try dividing it into four parts. This is advice from Dirk Friel - former professional cyclist and coach at

The first quarter. Ride at less than what you are capable of doing. You'll need to hold yourself back here. The tendency is to go out too fast in this quarter and struggle at the end due to a build-up of lactate that can't be eliminated without slowing down considerably.

The second quarter. Ride at the effort that you want to average for the entire race. You'll begin to feel the strain in this quarter. If you find yourself struggling, back off. It's still too early to go hard.

The third quarter. This quarter is the hardest and most important to get right. If you went out too fast in the first quarter, you'll begin to slow down now. If you controlled quarter 1, stay focused now as it will make or break your race results. Check to make sure that you're still aero. Ride hard. It will start to hurt. Try shifting to a harder gear to see if you can maintain cadence. If not, shift back.

The fourth quarter. This is where the very painful portion of the TT comes in. The finish line beckons and there are only a few minutes to go. Work on maintaining cadence, effort and breathing. Don't allow any slowing. Are you still aero? Are you riding with the hardest effort you can maintain?

When you see the finish line, try to accelerate. If you can, you held back too much. The perfect pacing leaves you completely exhausted and unable to continue when you cross the line.

TIP: Going harder up hills and resting on descents will save you a lot more time than going hard on the descents and wasting the energy you could be using to go up hills.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cycling Shorts

There's a few cycling items that you should never cheap-out on. The one thing that will enhance the enjoyment of riding more than anything else is a good set of cycling shorts.

There are a few premium brands out there. The ones that I particularly like are Assos. These shorts are unbelievable.Your jaw may drop when you first see the price but let the folks at Assos tell you a bit about them and you'll immediately see how well thought out they are. It's a thankless job being a good set of shorts. If you don't notice the discomfort of sitting on your ass for hours on end, then they're doing their job perfectly. I just did a 299km ride in my Assos shorts and I didn't come out with one saddle soar or any of the usual discomforts.

I'd recommend that you first buy what fits, then determine their "value" taking into consideration the expected longevity of the shorts. An awesome pair of $250 shorts over five years has much more value than a less comfortable pair of $50 that lasts one year.

A few things to consider when buying a good set of shorts:

Panels. The more the better. Usually, 8-panel shorts conform to your body better than those made from fewer pieces. Better manufacturers (like Assos) use flat-seam stitching so additional panels won't result in abrasion or other discomforts.

Leg grippers. Nothing is more frustrating than shorts that ride up and let material bunch in the crotch. Check the leg grippers to be sure they're wide, made of silicon or rubber and securely sewn in. The legs should feel comfortably snug, not tight.

Bibs. Bib shorts can't sag. They keep the chamois snug against the crotch to limit movement and irritation. They should feel a bit tight around the shoulders when standing straight up, but bend over into a riding position and they'll loosen up. I think that buying bib shorts goes without saying for any self-respecting cyclist.

Cheap out on your cycling shorts and I guarantee you'll end up regretting it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

If You're Not Moving Forwards, You're Moving Backwards!

Since my last post was on a more personal level, here's a real tip for the day:

You've probably been in a situation where some shifty bugger keeps stealing the wheel you were sitting comfortably behind. As this happens again and again the next thing you know you're at the back of the bunch. If you're not the guy moving up wheel by wheel then you're not going to keep a decent position in the pack. Since there's always people moving up in the pack, you're position is never static. Even if you keep the wheel you're sitting on, you're still moving backwards in the peloton. It takes some confidence and skill but once you master how to move up in the pack, it'll save you a lot of energy and allow you to be in a better position.

One thing that works well is moving up on the inside of the road (watch far ahead for changes in the road or obstructions!). Carefully move up until there's no more room to continue. Gently put the back of your hand on the hip of the guy in front of you who is blocking your path to let him know you're there and coming through. Usually the guy will move over and let you keep rolling up through the pack. Don't do this aggressively (or TOO GENTLY - he may get the wrong idea! ).

This is only one of many maneuvers you can use to move up through the pack. Its one of the easiest and most polite strategies. I'll write more tips on this subject in future posts.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Perhaps the reason we love cycling so much is because of the extreme ups and downs that it provides us in this self-contained world of ours. The great thing about sports is that it's basically a sandbox - they have their own unique set of rules that wouldn't be tolerated in normal society. You play by those rules, you can get very emotional, and then you can immediately step back into real life and there are few consequences or rewards based on how you did.

If you're like me and set some concrete goals within the season, then you'll undoubtedly have some expectations that go along with it. If it doesn't pan out the way you want it can sometimes be disappointing. I personally experienced this on the weekend in the Melbourne-Warrnambool race. I trained relatively hard for the Warny, sacrificed a fair amount of mornings and weekends to do some very long, hard rides and spent a lot of mental energy thinking and talking about it. Whatever the reason or excuse, I didn't meet my expectations and wound up a bit disappointed. I'm not the only one. Many others had punctures, crashes, got caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, bonked, etc. SO here's my Cycing Tip for today....

Its important to keep in mind that no one else cares as much as you do when you don't meet your expectations. Keep in mind they're YOUR expectations (well, Cadel may see this differently - but that's pro sports). Most of the fun in building up for your goals is the preparation period - the planning, the training, the sacrifice involved. Without that, cycling would not be nearly as satisfying as it is.

Win or lose, you're only as good as your last race. There will be many more!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Foods NOT To Eat On the Bike

Last week I wrote about The Ultimate Cycling Snack. I experimented with a few of these foods while on a big ride last weekend. I was most interested to try the Boiled potatoes which according to pro-team Garmin Chipotle's nutrition tips, are supposed to be a cyclists wonderfood.

Let me tell you the problem I found with these "natural" foods. Foods like the potato crumbled very easily and pieces got lodged in my throat while breathing heavily. The other food I tried (from Garmin Chipotle again) was rice cakes. These were made from sushi rice, scrambled egg, and a bit of ham all mashed together into nice little cakes. Again, chewing these while trying to breath at 45km/hr was not an easy task. I happened to share these with my mates and we all ended up coughing up a lung trying to get these things down our throats.

Both of these snacks were excellent while riding slowly or taking a break but not in a hard riding situation. The thing I learned from this experiment is the best things to eat while on the bike are easily chewed foods that don't flake or break apart. Stick to gels, powerbars or a ziplock bag of creamed rice (particularly good) when riding hard.

Okay, enough with the stupid experiments.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hammer Head Syndrome

The best way to train is by going as hard as you can on every ride you do, right? Even though we're in the age of HR, power monitoring and training periodization, it remains difficult for many to understand what smart training really means. People think that periodization is great for people who have time to burn, but for those under time restraints the way to get the best bang for your buck is by going hard every chance they get. This type of training results in a sickness called “Hammer Head Syndrome”

• Are you exceedingly proud of the average speeds of your rides and do you gauge your training progress by the improvement of your average speed from one ride to another?

• Do you find group rides fairly easy, but in a race you can’t seem to bridge to the winning move, keep with the final acceleration or stay with the group over the steepest part of the climb?

• Do you pride yourself on the fact that no rider has ever passed you on a training ride, even on your recovery days?

• Do you find it impossible to imagine that riding at 130 bpm could possibly be anything other than a waste of time?

• Do you have a maximum heart rate of 185, yet you haven’t seen it go above 170 since the season began?

If you answered yes some of these questions, you might be suffering from Hammer Head Syndrome.

Intensity on every ride with no recovery can result in a endless plateau of middle of the road fitness. Although there is a time and a place for zone 3 (over 85% HR), generally it is not considered hard enough to cause a desired physical adaptation. At the same time, it is too hard to allow for proper recovery. Therefore, you don’t want to be spending the majority of your time there. There's an old adage that says when you go fast, you should be going REALLY FAST. When you’re going slow, you should be going REALLY SLOW.

ply put - learn how to ride harder on the hard days, and take time to ride slow and steady on the recovery days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Damage Control

This past weekend proved to be a goldmine for cycling tips. Both introspectively and by observing others.

We can all ride like a pro with our friends on good days but it's how you handle those inevitable bad days that shows your true character. Haven't had any bad days? Well either you aren't human or haven't been in this sport long enough!

I had a BAD day on the bike this past Sunday. 250km of BAD.  I didn't eat or drink enough, my legs were heavy, and I wasn't feeling well (on the verge of a cold). On top of that, my riding mates were all on fire. Not a great day to be riding poorly...

How do you handle those bad days? Here's what I keep in mind and try to do:

1. FORCE yourself to eat and drink. One probable reason for the poor form on the day is because you aren't properly fueled. It's amazing what a can of Coke can do in the short term.

2. Don't be too proud to sit in and do as little work as possible. Save your energy for getting you home. Let your riding partners know what's going on and that you'll be sitting in. They just may have mercy on you.

3. If you're feeling horrible then listen to your body and don't fight it. It's just one bad day. Accept it and keep a positive attitude. This will make the ride easier on you and your riding mates.

4. There can be a massive difference between how you feel when you're heart rate is at 165bpm vs 160bpm (for example). Ask your mates to slow it up a bit until you're more comfortable and hopefully you'll find a pace that will get you home while everyone else still has a good ride.

5. Save your legs, not your gears! Spin, spin, spin. Spinning does a lot less damage to the muscles than big gear riding. Also, every chance you get, stop pedaling, duck down into the slipstream and go for the free ride. Conserve every ounce of energy you have.

6. Break the ride into 30min pieces and don't think about the rest. Set yourself small goals to reach. The daunting task of dragging yourself 3 more hours can be overwhelming if you're feeling really bad.

Remember: A bad day's riding beats a good day's work.....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Commuter Challenge

Four commuters, four types of transport, one destination: The winner is ...

The Gist of it:

Bike vs. Car vs. Train vs. Motorcycle over 17km into the city center during rush hour.

1. Bike: 32 minutes
2. Motorcycle: 38 minutes
3. Car: 41 minutes
4. Train: 57 minutes

Thanks for doing your fellow cyclists proud Marlon! On a 46x18 beauty of a singlespeed I might add. See below for pics of "The Houffa". Supple steel hand crafted by Kev Wigham of Paconi.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Top 10 Around The Bay Tips

Yesterday was the annual Around the Bay in a Day ride in Melbourne.  It's a spectacular thing to see over 30,000 cyclists take part in a ride that goes either 210km or 250km. There are few places in the world with this much enthusiasm and participation in cycling.

An event like this inevitably brings out all the "weekend warriors" and "once a yearers".  The day provided heaps of cycling tips to share but here are the top 10 Around the Bay tips from yesterday's ride.

10. The Fan - one cyclist pulled up to us while we had an echelon going and told us we should be riding one directly behind the other in a cross-headwind, to do "the fan".  I have no idea what he was talking about and I don't think he did either.  This is when we get our once a year ego boost and put the pace up to 50km/hr showing him our version of "the fan".

9. To the above point, when riding in an echelon pull off into the wind!  People seem to get this wrong more often than not.

8. Shoulder check before blindly swerving into the middle of the road. Unbelievable how many potential accidents were caused by lack of shoulder checking.

7. Don't get too excited and pull too hard through your turns.  This really ruins a good pace line. Again, see Echelon in the Crosswinds.

6. Don't come to a dead stop in the middle of the road for a rest. Yes, people actually do this!

5. When passing slower riders, don't dodge them like it's a slalom ski event (especially when there's a group of 200 on your wheel!)

Not only punters make mistakes. Here are some of  the rookie mistakes that myself and my fellow riders made yesterday:

4. Only one bottle of water in 150km.  Bad idea....especially the first 150km.

3. Not checking the weather forecast and not bringing extra clothing.  Weather conditions are generally pretty mild here in Melbourne but 13 degrees and rain gets cold no matter where you are. If in any doubt, always bring arm warmers and a vest.

2. Don't eat food that crumbs easily (rice cakes, potatoes, banana bread, etc). The crumbs and bits get stuck in the throat easily, making it difficult to eat.  The more uncomfortable it is to eat, the less you will eat.  I'll write more about this one later...

1. 250km is a long way.  No need to have your heart up at 180bpm in the first 20km.  A wise coach once told me, "start a ride slow, finish fast". I have yet to learn this...

Friday, October 17, 2008

'Faux Form' and Big Bunch Rides

We're fortunate that here in Melbourne there's a selection of bunch rides to choose from every day of the week.  These rides are great as they are motivating,  safer when riding in traffic, and they can really push your limits if you're up for it.  However, bunch rides can be a real waste of time if you are content getting pulled along in the middle of the pack. Riding in a bunch will never improve your form!  Here's a couple good tips from Danny Cohen on how to help maximize your time spent on these rides. Thanks Danny...

note: Once again, there is no substitute for a well planned out, "periodized" training plan. 

Next time you're in a large super fast bunch, move all the way to the back and let a gap of 5m open between you and the last rider. Now observe the back half of the pack closely. Notice how most riders are hardly turning the pedals? They seem to just get sucked along most of the time, pedalling intermittently for a few seconds just to maintain/increase speed, then backing off as the pace settles.

It's only when the bunch hits a hill or when it gets really strung out at 50+km/h, that everyone's heart rate rises. But how much time out of the total ride does this intensity account for?  If you still enjoy your local fast bunch ride but want to ensure you get the most out of the time you have set aside to train and want to avoid "faux form" , try the following:(you might even preserve those brake pads a bit longer!)

(1) Ride a low gear at high cadence and hang 5 meters off the last rider. Be sure to concentrate as some of the backmarkers will drop wheels due to exertion, opening up gaps...not necessarily a bad thing as this will force you to ride harder for a few seconds to get back on while you're already nearing the red zone! If you feel you're going to pop, get closer and take a bit more shelter till you recover. The overall amount of time your legs won't be pedalling will be negligible.  This is good simulation for for motorpacing and your overall speed.

(3) Put it in a massive gear like the 53x11 or 12 and work on your strength endurance in the back of the bunch. Try doing this for 2x10 minute intervals with 5 mins rest in-between. Careful...the accelerations will be difficult to keep up with using this big gear.

(2) Ride in the top 10 wheels and get as much time at the pointy front end as possible! Obviously get into the rotation if there are turns being rolled up front.  This is great for your tempo and lactate threshold work (great race simulation)

Enjoy the increased form!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ultimate Cycling Snack?

I haven't tried this snack yet but I keep hearing about it so I thought I'd pass it on. Apparently this is pro Team Garmin-Chipotle's secret on-bike snack that they put in their musettes. If it's good enough for them, it's probably good enough for me. I'll try it out this weekend on a 250km ride that I have coming up and let you know. One of my goals for the Warny this year is to eat whole foods made from scratch. No pre-packaged energy bars or gels. I think this will help with my sustained energy and keep stomach problems to a minimum.

What is the ultimate cycling snack you ask? Potatoes - which are a great source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, sodium, and they break down into a sugar that you body can use extremely quickly. Potatoes have an extremely high GI for quick energy absorption. They are easy to digest and are pretty convenient to carry in a jersey. Here's how Team Garmin-Chipotle has them prepared:

- Boil a handful of "new potatoes" for 10-15 minutes ("new potatoes" are a small type of potato).

- Let potatoes cool (while they are still hot you can skin them with your bare hands quite easily if you wish. The skin is high in fiber which is difficult to digest)

- Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and add a pinch of salt.

- Grate Parmesan cheese onto the potatoes to taste.

- Wrap in foil. Packs of 2 potatoes work well.

To wrap your potatoes for easy eating, use Team Garmin-Chipotle's folding technique, which gives easy access while keeping hands and jersey pockets clean.

- Cut a 20cm-wide strip of aluminum foil and place 2 of the potatoes in the center.

- Fold one long edge over, and then back again halfway.

- Repeat with other long edge, creating a seam.

- Tightly wrap the outer edges around the back, leaving the seam exposed.

- Store in a jersey pocket. When hunger strikes, you can easily rip half the foil off at the seam and take a bite.

Ride To Work Day

It's National Ride To Work Day here in Australia. With over 100,000 participants expected, I'm sure there's someone out there with some good tips on how to get my dress clothes from home to work in a backpack without wrinkling them looking like they just came out of the washing machine.

I usually keep a pair of pants hanging up at work as well as a pair of shoes. I've found a great brand of dress shirts that are "wrinkle free". Not entirely true, but they do hold up better than any others I've seen. They're called G2000. Unfortunatey they can only be found in Asia, so next time you're in Bangkok, Beijing, KL, etc you should easily stumble across one of their stores. I think any 55% cotton / 45% polyester shirt should do though.

The way that I attempt to keep my clothes from wrinkling is to neatly roll them - not fold them. Lay the shirt face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up. Keeping a plastic dry cleaning bag on your clothes while rolling them also does wonders. The compression in your bag is what causes the creases on your clothes. The looser the things are in your bag, the better they'll come out.

If you have any good commuting tips please leave them in the comments section under this post. I'd like to hear them!

Now get out there and kick some ass on the Wed morning World Championships!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pre-Race Warm-up

Sometimes the intensity of a race can start out extremely high. I find this sudden fast pace particularly difficult as I get older. Crits and time trials can be the most painful. A good warm-up before the race is essential. It'll get the leg muscles full of blood, get the body warm, and make the start of the race much more tolerable. You can change your position from being in the hurt-box to putting everyone else in the hurt-box.

Here's the warm-up routine that I've been using for years. It's best done on a trainer so you can achieve the proper intensity and times. My max heart rate is 189bpm so I've used the percentages in the 3rd column to calculate my HR zones.

Don't worry about tiring yourself out with this before the race. This isn't long enough or intense enough to do much damage to your muscles. Just make sure you eat and drink the appropriate amounts and you'll be fired up and ready to go!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Another great Cycling Tip from Jeff Bolstad. There's good reason why he wins 1/3 of the races he enters....or was that Merckx? Either attention folks. You'll learn something from this guy.

At it’s most basic, an attack is an attempt to distance one’s self from other riders, but an attack can have a more subtle purpose. Here are a few examples:

1. Kicking the hornet’s nest

    Radios didn’t ruin cycling, but they did take some of the hilarity out of it. Back before radios, and when races were less formal affairs, one of the racers (his name escapes me) was infamous for attacking, getting out of sight, and then hiding in the bushes. When the peloton came by, he would jump out and tag onto the back, while his rivals chased away on the front.

    You can’t do this anymore, but a well-timed attack can set up a miniature version. Say, for instance, that a break that you don’t like the looks of has a gap and any moment now the guys driving the chase are going to look to you to work. It would be much better if these other chuckleheads would chase the move down for you. Attack, but don’t give it all that much. This will leave you fresh enough to slide back in near the front of the pack as you’re caught, and give you a good view of the flury of counter-attacks it provokes. This will often put an end to the breakaway, at little cost to your self.

    Two beautiful things about this move are that the more heavily marked you are, the better it works, and that it works as well with 2 laps to go as with 20. Timed properly, it can set up a teammate-less version of the Poor Man’s Leadout.

2. The Poor Man’s Leadout

    Speaking of which, the Poor Man’s Leadout is one of the most basic and effective of team tactics. It only requires one teammate. Of the two teammates, the weaker sprinter puts in a late attack, while the sprinter sits on. Like all great cycling tactics it gives your opponents two choices, neither of which has much appeal. Namely, they can either chase the rabbit down and lead the sprinter out, or they can not chase, and let the rabbit win.

    This can work in field sprints when you don’t have enough people to do a proper leadout, but is most effective out of breakaways. Because the sprints are slower and there are fewer people to keep track of, normal leadouts are fairly pointless in breakaways. The Poor Man’s Leadout, however, is incredibly effective, since everyone is probably tired and therefore more likely to hesitate. The rabbit wins more often in this situation.

3. Attacking as blocking

    The time honored method of blocking is to sit on or near the front and refuse to help set the pace. This is fine, but once a chase gets organized, it’s bordering on bad manners to get in the rotation and mess it up. That’s not to say that people don’t do it, or that it’s not effective – they do and it is, but push your luck and you can get all kinds of hate coming your way, some of it physical. Instead of making enemies or getting put in the ditch, try attacking the chase. Experienced riders may ignore you, realizing that you won’t ride away from a paceline on your own. On the other hand, they may respond to your attack. When you’re already working hard in a paceline, making an anaerobic effort hurts, bad. Some of the chasers may start thinking about getting some shelter; those that remain will have some of the wind taken out of their sails; the chase will take some time to get organized again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting More Out Of Your Calories

The amount of food you should aim to consume each hour of a really long ride should be determined by your carbohydrate choices.  Of course more carbs equals more fuel, however this equation only works if your absorption can keep up with your intake.  As I've said before, this fuel should come from a combination of energy drinks and some form of solid food. 

Studies show that the maximum rate at which glucose can be absorbed, or oxidized, into your bloodstream is 1 gram per minute, which equals 60g per hour.  However, other studies indicate that if you consume a 2:1 ratio of glucose and fructose, your body increases the oxidization rate to 1.5g per hour.  This is a 50% increase!  It's speculated that because the different sugars follow different pathways of absorption, your body is tricked into converting more than it normally would.

All of this is explained in greater detail by a qualified dietitian in the following article from bicycling magazine.

Why does this matter?  If it's not already obvious, the more energy your body can absorb, the more energy you will have for riding.  This is particularly useful in long races.  In the Warny for instance, you'll burn about 6500 calories (which equals ~1600g of carbs).  Replenishing these calories is not an easy thing to do while racing at 40-50km/hr (remember, some of those are stored from your pre-race carb loading ).  Pay very close attention to the TYPES of sugars you're ingesting (2:1 glucose to fructose) as this will play a massive part in getting you to the end of the race feeling fresh and strong.  Most people are running on EMPTY at the end of big races.  Not you, because you've read this and now know better!

I will soon post a spreadsheet that tells you what my nutrition and eating strategy is before the Warny.  It takes into account where the feed stations are, how long it will take to get to each of them, what will be in my feed bag, and the mix of carbs in each of the choices.  I'm not saying it's necessarily right for you, but it'll give you an idea of the job ahead and you'll see that drinking water and gels alone isn't going to cut it for a long ride like the Warny.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Trackstand

This post comes from my good buddy Hayden. You'll see him pull a mono on anything with more than one wheel and can make the best coffee on earth while doing so. He wrote this tip on a napkin at a traffic light while in a trackstand on beach road this morning. That's a fact. Thanks Hayden...

Even though a friend once said to me that if he "...sees another skinny leg black jean wearing yuppie on a fixie taking a photo while typing on his mac..." he would walk over an knock him off, it is a skill.

Whether it be on the track it self, the bunch in the morning, at the traffic lights commuting to work, or starting a mountain bike race, a track stand is one of those major skills in your quiver that everyone should learn. It helps your handling skills, by way of BALANCE. Simply taught, a track stand doesn't even use brakes.

It is easier to learn with trainers on, because you will be dabbing your feet for a while to get the real hang of it. and be sure to practice in an easy gearing, so that you can ride out of the stand. The way I learned was on a grassy knoll with a slight uphill rise. Grass is soft and green, but also adds some more resistance for balance.

1. While standing up on the pedals, ride up to the slight rise on the grass, and position the bike so that it is pointing at either 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock, depending on what side you prefer first.

2. Turn the wheel slightly so that it faces back towards the 12 o'clock.

3. Now BALANCE. You don't want to use the brakes - use the gears to keep you in place. Gravity will force your front wheel back down, but your gearing will force you back up. So when you feel the bike go back down the hill slightly, apply some pressure to the pedals and go up a foot or so, then relieve the pressure and roll back, and so on and so on.

4. With the front wheel going slightly across the front of your body (at 10 or 2 o'clock) allows you to spread the base of the bike, so that it can be moved to balance you.

5. As with all balance techniques, focus on one spot on the ground. If you follow something moving, you are going to move with it. Remember to breathe.

Once you get this on grass with trainers, then use your clipless pedals, then try it all on the road.

You will notice that a lot of roads are not flat, and allow you to practice this technique a bit easier on the road. Try not the first few times in busy traffic... it can be embarrassing.
Soon enough, you will be able to do this on the flat, by forcing the bike backwards, but pedaling forward at the same time.

When you are in the city next time, watch a courier at the lights. They rock. They do it all day and are my personal local hero's. Weaving through the traffic like a sword through the air, but when they stop at the lights (sometimes.....) they don't unclip, they just be.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keeping Your Whites White

Handlebar tape wears out every 8 - 12 months. Besides the fact that it can get really dirty, there's no reason to replace it any sooner. If you want to look Euro, white handlebar tape will definitely be your flavor of choice. No to mention white shoes, white knicks, white leg warmers, etc.

To keep it perfectly clean, supermarkets sell Woolmix brand product with a eucalyptus base ( Green bottle ) which is for delicate fabrics. Drop some into a small dish add a squirt of water . Take a nail brush dip it into the fluid and scrub away. Dry off with a clean towel ...all done...pearly white again! For the stubborn stuff do the same with concentrated Preen solution first then the Woolmix.

Make You Own Powerbars

I wanted to wait until I tried these myself before I posted this recipe. This post comes from Jamie "Backcountry" Roberts and I can promise you won't be disappointed. They're nice and chewy and the crumbs won't get caught in your throat while you're eating and gasping for air at the same time. Each of these bars are about 200-300 calories (depending on how big you slice them). Perfect for the hungry cyclist. Thanks Jamie!

Round One: Cream together in a bowl or you can mix these in a pot on the stovetop too, a bit easier than mashing butter chunks, but you need to let the mixture cool before you add it to round 2 or else your chocolate chips will melt!

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey

Round Two: Mix these together in a separate bowl and add round 1, mix together.

6 cups large flake oats
1 cup toasted coconut
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted flax seeds
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 tsp sea salt

- press mixture into a greased cookie sheet
- bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top
- allow to cool a bit, but cut into bars while they are still warm
- let cool completely before removing form pan
- wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for easy access while riding

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Ahh...summer is finally here in Australia and the first of the Sunday crits signal the start of it! Crit season also means getting accustomed to some high paced, tight cornering again.

Good cornering technique can save a LOT of energy and put you in the proper winning position in the final straight of a race. Many people have difficulty cornering so here are a few simple tips to help you along the way;

1. Always look where you want to go , not where you want to avoid or down at your front wheel .

2. Anticipate the speed for the corner and brake before the corner if necessary. DON’T brake in the turn!

3. Approach the corner wide, cut to the apex, and finish wide. A common mistake is cutting to the apex of the turn too early.

4. Watch the 2 or 3 riders ahead of you who have already entered the corner. Note if they are pedaling safely through it and judge whether you should do the same. If it happens that your inside pedal hits the pavement, don't panic and over correct. Over compensation is how most crashes happen.

5. If you need to coast through a corner then once you have passed the apex of the corner begin to pedal again as soon as possible.


You may not realize that you intuitively countersteer every time you enter a corner. However, once you are aware of this concept it's much easier to control and perfect. Let me explain:

To initiate countersteering, momentarily turn away from the direction you're turning. This increases the lean of the bicycle into the turn. This method allows for greater steering control and makes it easy to affect a change in direction during the turn.

If you have 5 minutes, the following video does a great job explaining countersteering.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Crowie is the King. He could write this entire blog with both hands and legs tied behind his back. He's competed and won races that we only read about in cyclingnews. Here's a glimpse of his very own training strategy that's worked for him and other elite athletes over the years. The thing that I love about it is that he's adapted it to make it realistic for guys like myself to achieve who have a job and real life commitments.

There's lots involved with creating a periodized training program that's right for you. It depends on your strengths, weaknesses and what your goals are. The key is to work on different fitness elements in phases throughout the season. Each fitness element has different types of workouts that help build on that area. For example, the strength phase requires some big gear, low cadence work on steady gradual climbs. The speed phase requires some shorter, steady, and more intense intervals after your strength work has been done. Power requires things like bursts of speed up short hills and then recovering. When you put it all together your form will be well rounded and you will be flying. This progression towards a focus is the single most important aspect of periodization. I know we all want to be fit 100% of the time, but the reality is that you'll probably be operating at 70-80% on your best days if you just ride day after day doing the same old stuff. You can either be at your best for a month in the season, or mediocre for the whole year.

Thanks for your contribution Rob. To find out more please visit Ridewiser.


Here’s a sneak view of my own current program for summer racing build-up with a mixture of different intensities by color code. This is a high level view of the progression towards peak fitness.

Light Blue = Endurance intensity

Green = Strength work

Yellow = Speed/cadence training

Orange = Power training

Red = Competition Focus

There also is a nice spread of the colors throughout the week as you can see in the sample program below. However, the correct emphasis should be on one particular aspect most of the time throughout training periods. This example shows the strength phase of the training plan. The reality is you can only really contribute properly twice per week into the STRENGTH development phase (or whatever aspect you’re working on). You can see from the color codes below that Tuesday is green (which is a pure strength workout) and Thursday is torque (which is necessary to build strength). These two days in the week place the emphasis on building up STRENGTH and the rest of the days are getting the body ready for the next phases. There is not a perfect formula for the arrangements, because normal human timetables are so multifaceted, but there is a preferable order to things. First some GREEN (STRENTH), then some THRESHOLD ORANGE (TORQUE), then place YELLOW (SPEED) before RED (COMPETITION).

Let me reiterate that this is not a static weekly training program. To be done properly, this will change from month to month (possibly week to week) as your body adapts to some areas of fitness more quickly or slowly than others. After one area of fitness is trained, then you move up the pyramid to the next area.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back from Behind

I hear this all too often: "Once I get in shape I'll start riding the big rides with you guys". It's like saying "I'm not going to the gym until I have biceps like Arnold". Let me tell you, it's not going to happen. If you're not at the level that you want to be then the best way to get there is to start riding with people who are fitter and more motivated than yourself. They will push your limits and help you ride for longer, more difficult periods of time. You'll learn from them and they'll motivate you to continue to push yourself to be a better rider. Warning: You will hurt like hell for the first couple of months BUT little by little you'll start keeping up with these guys and possibly riding away from them at some point. The process will include much winging, useless legs, remaining on the sofa all afternoon, and possibly not even be able to string a sentence together. But I assure you the end result is worth it with an overall improved quality and enjoyment of riding.

The only caveat I have to this suggestion is to pick these rides carefully. This isn't necessarily long term, sound training advice. Instead, it will help get you on the right track with your riding habits and motivation. It'll make you realize how much work you have to do and how hard you need to train to become a more fit rider.

I'll comment on "sound training advice" and "periodization" with the help of an expert next blog entry.