Archive | December, 2012

Myth Buster

24 Dec

Even in this modern age of power meters, gps, iPhones, and all other manner of data trackers, some old school cycling myths still persist. One of which is the old adage that more miles is better. Another persistent myth is that trainer miles don’t count toward weekly or annual mileage totals. Why not?

We all love riding our bikes and there certainly is nothing wrong with enjoying the health benefits, camaraderie, etc. that cycling provides. But when it comes to training for improved performance, whether that be for a charity ride, a big century ride, triathlons, or bike races, more miles does not equal better. My favorite coach, Carl Cantrell of New Mexico, says, “Quality is better than Quantity.” See more from Coach Carl here:

Many of us spend hours riding in the group at 20-25 mph and most of us remain at the same fitness level year in and year out. For those who enjoy the healthy life style and associated benefits, that is well and good. For those who seek fitness improvement, quality miles will trump quantity every time. And there is no better way to get quality than by suffering on your trainer.

Some riders bundle up and still ride outside when the temperature is below 30 degrees. We somehow believe that riding on ice slickened roads will make us tougher in the crunch. Yet it is easy to forget about all the coasting time when outside; all the stop signs, all the stop lights, all the traffic crossings, that ultimately take away pedal revolutions that could be turned into fitness gains. Lest we not forget the potential for injury via slipping and falling on slick roads; broken wrists and broken ribs are common winter injuries suffered by those who chance the cold weather.  

Suffering on the trainer forces you to turn the pedals every second of your workout. There is no coasting. Furthermore, although it may toughen your skin to ride outdoors in inclement weather, it takes mental toughness to stick to a fitness-improving workout on your trainer.  There won’t be a stop sign that allows you to coast at 3 minutes into your 4 minute V02 interval; there won’t be a stop sign that causes you to slow at 12 minutes into your 15 minute LT interval.

Because there is no coasting on the trainer, those trainer miles probably should count as MORE mileage than road miles. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Last weekend I enjoyed riding in a group that included some of my B.I.T. riders, all of whom spun low gears at high cadence while others slogged along in big chain rings at 80 rpm.

Dr. David Wilkes caught my eye as the group ascened a mild, rolling hill. A handful of riders at the front pounded their big chain rings as if it were the finish climb up Tour of Lombardy. Dr. Wilkes spun his light gear on the heels of the lead group. Over the top, those gear pounders all sat up, slumping over their handlebars in huff and puff exhaustion. Dr. Wilkes mildly shifted down one gear and kept spinning away, opening a significant gap on everyone else. Dr. Wilkes has been riding his trainer throughout the first 7 weeks of the B.I.T. indoor training program.

Fifteen disciplined souls who seek improved performance in 2013 suffered the two hours of structured training yesterday in the friendly confines of Indy PitFit. We laughed, we joked; Andrea brought a bag of sinfully delicious Trader Joe’s chocolates and Lyn Conrad brought the most incredible home-baked brownies this side of the moon; we indulged.   

And we suffered. Dr. Adam Perler’s Pandora Alternative Endurance track blasted the pain from our legs, turning the Salvador Dali-warped clock on the wall into time machine that made 2 hours feel like 20 minutes. Make the most of your winter training by riding a trainer. Join a group if necessary, but don’t let the old adage the trainer miles don’t count, deter your fitness goals for 2013.

B.I.T. classes resume on Tuesday, January 15. We’ll begin with 15 minutes of core work, and new for this semester, we’ll spend 75 minutes on the bike. I still have plenty of room for those interested. I look forward to training with you this winter.


First Seven Weeks

10 Dec

Hard to believe the first seven week block of training is already coming to a close. We’ve been fortunate to get outside most weekends, complimenting our two indoor sessions per week with moderately high volume and periodic episodes of high speed frenzy. Highlights have included the 13 mile tail wind stretch in early November; a Saturday hill sprint ride on the ‘cross bike (I’m still the Mayor of The Preserve), complete with knobby tires and low pressure; a pre-Turkey Day aggressor on which I took a 13 mile solo gambit over the final third of the ride; keeping Eva in check a couple weekends ago as we rode directly into a fierce headwind for the first half of our ride, and finally, another 3 hour road group ride on the unwieldy ‘cross bike.

The tailwind day featured a large group of nearly 35 riders, all of whom showed up expecting a social ride. Fitness levels ranged from regular participants to those nearly brand new to cycling. The task of shepherding the new riders fell to myself and Dr. Wilkes, who admirably remained back with the new folks while most others could not resist the temptation of the tailwind.

Eventually, five of us broke clear and held speeds near 35 mph for the 13 mile duration. Jim Creamer and Sally Yuska remained in the mix; Jim and I recorded max speeds of 43 mph.

A couple weekends ago Eva Cheung led a small group of us guys due west into the teeth of a fierce headwind, slicing her way through as if she were on a social ride. Cyclingprof, Dan Cole and UM-Man, Josh Ginsburg, kept the office cozy in the cool temps. Dr. Wilkes held court on the front when it became necessary to regin Eva’s brutal pace back in.

Several riders have made significant improvements during the indoor sessions. Leading the way is Michele Sheets, raising her average and max cadence comfort level from 80/95 to 95/150! Jilaine Stevens has also exhibited natural athleticism and quick adaptation to the rigors of indoor cycling. Melissa Winget and Ashley Koss have also quickened their cadence and raised their power.

Henry Kim and Ken Green keep the back row birds in check, throwing down the occasional spontaneous attack that even on trainers, we all must still respond to. Although more difficult to hear over the hum of trainer tires on flywheels and the constant 70s music backdrop (Sly And The Family Stone!), Henry and Ken have the keen ears to hear the subtle shift of gears (click, click) that we all tense to on the road.

B.I.T. regulars, Anthony Barr, Larry Stevens, Angelia Kniesly and Robin Barr, have all taken their turns on the front, including leading the core sessions when called upon. And lest we not forget time travelling-Gena, she of the 26-seconds-equals-a-minute time keeper. If not for Gena, we might still all be on our trainers.

It’s been a fun first Session and I’m looking forward to everyone’s improvement in the 20-minute TT this Thursday. We break for the holidays after Thursday and resume training on January 15. Be sure to maintain a routine during our month-long break. Eat well and enjoy your family and friends during this festive season.