Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Grand Finale

WOW!! I can't believe this week will be our last two spin classes for this year. But don't fear. I have many great summer rides planned which start in June. But until then, spend some time on your bike outdoors and get some good base miles in before we hit it hard again.

Be on the lookout for Random Outings in April and May. Depending on the weather and my schedule, we might sneak in a few more rides together before the summer schedule officially starts. I am looking into some non-bike activities too, maybe yoga or karaoke. Any other suggestions??

I have had a request from a few members to share names, email addresses, and phone numbers. The purpose is to get a hold of each other for weekend rides or multi-sport practices. If you send me an email telling me name, phone and email, and state that you are okay with this information being shared only with other members of our group, then I will create a list. I will try to have the list put together in 2 weeks.

Wednesday is not only April Fool's Day but will be the last in our three part climbing series. I promise a tough climb for you. Class starts at 5:30 pm and the weather isn't looking good to ride outside.

Sunday is the big day of fun. I have attached a flier with all the necessary information, including a schedule of events, what to bring, and a prize list. There are only 10 spots left as of today. RSVP ASAP!!! Don't miss out on the guest speak, potluck lunch, cake, and prizes. Email me with any questions. Michelle M. and Michelle G. have already shared their yummy potluck ideas with me: turkey taco soup and PBJ Ritz sandwiches. I am dreaming up a tasty lunch dish as we speak.

I want to take a minute to say that you all have been a great group of women to get to know over the winter. I want you all back this summer and next winter. I don't think I could ask for a better group to have as friends.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strong Climbers with Bright Futures

I hope the drills in spin class and outside helped you see how much progress you've made. I kept hearing women on Sunday say that they never would have been able to do the 5 hill repeats this early in the season last year. See, all the drills and endurance are definitely paying off right now.

Get ready for another tough spin class this week. But remember, you're on a trainer, its your workout, so make it as challenging as is right for you on that particular day. As for Sunday, I will watch the weather and figure out a different place to ride other than Cherry Creek State Park. We will still meet at the store and leave from here at 11:15 am.

There are still 14 spots left for the Spin-A-Thon on April 5th. I will attach a list of the rules again. I have some great prizes up for grabs. For example: a 90 minute massage, bike tune ups, Bicycle Village Gift cards, and Sugoi clothing. Send me an email to RSVP.

I just created our team for Venus de Miles. I am so excited about this ride. Here are the instructions to get yourself registered:

1. go to this link http://www.active.com/page/Event_Details.htm?event_id=1682486&assetId=D30DEC5C-0398-42D3-A90F-86709B2C07B6

2. go to the register now link

3. sign in or use the guest access

4. choose the distance you want to ride (35, 50, or 65) as a TEAM MEMBER

5. select Bicycle Village Women Only! as your team then put in your personal information

If you have any questions, let me know. Have a great week and get signed up for Venus early.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The mental part of climbing

Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing

By Josh Horowitz PezCycling News

Unlike other aspects of cycling, climbing success is considered by most to be almost 100 percent dependant on fitness and natural ability. It occurred to me, however, that there is actually much more to it. Over the years, I've picked up numerous tricks and techniques that have allowed me to occasionally put one over on a stronger competitor. At the grass roots level, it is possible to just out ride your opponents, but as you get into the higher categories and the gap in ability narrows, strategy becomes increasingly important.
Practice the following psychological tactics to conquer your next elevation test:
I am a Strong Climber and I Love to Climb!

For most riders, the climb is won or lost the moment the looming incline comes into view. I cringe when I hear riders declare "I'm not a climber" or even "I'm a sprinter." Unless you are a world-class or professional cyclist, there is just no reason to limit yourself with statements such as these.

The rider who thinks to himself that he is not a climber will never be a great climber no matter how hard they train. Mentally, they defeat themselves before they even reach the base. These negative self-beliefs are powerful and deeply ingrained into the subconscious, but they can be overcome.

Next time you have one of these thoughts, write it down and then write down a positive thought that directly counteracts the negative one. For instance if you find yourself thinking, "I hate to climb and I'm terrible at it," you may want to write, "I am a strong climber and I love to climb!" Notice that the statement is 100 percent positive. Using the word "love" in your statement has also been proven to improve the power of your mantra.
Find 20 minutes on each ride to repeat this statement or affirmation to yourself. Say it out loud and with conviction. Think of the brain as having a type of muscle memory that can be re-shaped with training and repetition. If you do this consistently, you will be amazed at the results.
Negative thinking can cause a physical reaction. Riders who get nervous whenever the road ascends tend to tense up. They waste energy by clenching their shoulders and their arms. They lose their breathing rhythm and some (as ridiculous as this might sound) unconsciously hold their breath. Another result of this physical tension is a breakdown in efficiency. Their otherwise smooth pedal stroke becomes choppy and broken. As a result, their heart rate rises much faster than a rider with a similar power-to-weight ratio and they end up going off the back.
Try these two tricks. At night, when you are relaxed and lying in bed, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Imagine yourself on a challenging climb. Visualize yourself feeling relaxed and pedaling smoothly. Conjure up emotions and feelings you've had while doing something cycling related where your confidence soars, such as riding in a paceline or sprinting, and translate that into this climbing scenario. See yourself spinning effortlessly and summiting in record time with very little difficulty.
Do this every night before you fall asleep. Make your visualization as realistic as possible; incorporating sights, sounds, smells and sensations. If possible, imagine a particular climb that you want to conquer. You punish yourself on the bike week after week. Why not add a few minutes of training each day which won't even require you to break a sweat?

Take the Pain
This may seem obvious, but be ready to suffer. I don't mean normal suffering--I mean be prepared to push yourself past the point of pain. Often an entire ride or race comes down to one moment on the slopes. How you respond at that moment will define you as a rider.
Depending on the situation, don't worry about conserving energy and don't look at your power meter or heart rate monitor. The heart rate and power you put out in a competitive situation will be much higher than what you can handle in training. In many situations, if you ease off on the climb, your day is over anyway, so what are you saving it for? If you are suffering, chances are so is everyone else. Holding on for that additional 10 seconds could be the difference between heartbreak and a personal best. Then, if you do get dropped, at least you'll know you gave it your all.

Don't Look Up
When you look up to see the top, you get a distorted perspective of the steepness of the climb. Instead, distort your view in the opposite direction. Look straight down at the pavement in front of you. From this angle, it will appear to your brain that you are riding on a flat road--and that's not so bad is it?

Often, I catch myself making an exaggerated pain face as if to express my suffering to the world. Instead, try a smile. The brain associates a smile with pleasure and happiness. Smiling while you are climbing can trick your brain into thinking that you are not in as much pain as you think you are.
For more climbing tips from Josh Horowitz, read 7 Tips for Climbing to the Top.

Good article on climbing

7 Tips for Climbing to the Top

At the start of a climb, good positioning among the other riders is crucial.

By Josh Horowitz PezCycling News

Unlike other aspects of cycling, climbing success is considered by most to be almost 100 percent dependent on fitness and natural ability. But in reality, climbing is a much more subtle and complicated skill that encompasses not just fitness, but strategy and psychology.
Over the years, I’ve picked up numerous tricks and techniques that have allowed me to occasionally put one over on a stronger competitor. At the grass-roots level, it is possible to just outride your opponents, but as you get into the higher categories and the gap in ability narrows, strategy becomes increasingly important.

Training Tips

1. Cadence - Due in part to the influence of Lance Armstrong, it is generally accepted that keeping a higher cadence on the climbs is more efficient and more effective than pushing a big gear at a low cadence. A low cadence emphasizes the muscular system which tires quickly and takes several days to recover. A higher cadence places emphasis on the cardio and pulmonary systems which tend to have greater endurance and faster recovery.
It is not enough to just click into your smallest gear and attempt to spin up the next climb you encounter. Your body needs time to adapt. One of the most important and effective workouts I have my riders do to improve their climbing is the high-spin interval. There are other variations of leg-speed drills--such as rev-ups--but I’ve found the no-nonsense high-spin interval to be the safest and most effective.
Here’s how you do it: Find a flat road and attempt to pedal at 120 rpm for 10 minutes. Try to do it all at once with no breaks. There should be very little resistance on the pedals. Do this once or twice per week, adding five to 10 minutes each week. Over time, build up to a full hour.
At first you will find yourself bouncing around in the saddle and you may even experience cramping and saddle irritations. However, as muscle memory develops, you will become smoother and more efficient.

2. Base Training - Contrary to popular belief, doing thousands and thousands of feet of climbing is not necessarily the best or fastest way to achieve climbing fitness. Whether you are training for a 10,000-foot death ride or a pursuit on the track, base training is where it all begins.
Aside from dreary, moderate (zone 2) riding, I also have my riders do a cycle of tempo (zone 3) intervals which include two long intervals per week ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. These are done below threshold level but help to improve endurance speed as well as threshold power to a smaller extent. Strength building is also very important in the off-season, and much of it can be done right on the bike.
After the tempo cycle, my riders do a three-week cycle of muscle-tension intervals. These are also done just below threshold level but at a very slow cadence. Throw it into your big chain ring and do 10 minutes at a time at 50 rpm. Do this two to three days per week with two to three intervals each day.

3. Threshold Training - After a strong base has been established, improving threshold power is the next step toward bringing you into climbing shape. I’ve found the most effective and efficient way to do this is with simple, 15-minute time-trial (zone 4) intervals. These should be done right at anaerobic threshold level, or the point where your lungs start to burn and your legs start to ache. They can be done in sets of two or three, three to four times per week.
Instead of seeking out the steepest climbs around, it is much better to do these on a two- to three-percent grade. You will want to spend five to six hours over the course of a three-week cycle in this zone, so if you are training on eight-percent climbs with a cadence of 70 rpm, your muscles will exhaust before the cycle is complete and you won’t be able to put out the effort needed for adaptation. By keeping the cadence above 90 you will be able to do back-to-back interval days with plenty of recovery in between.

4. Anaerobic Training - The last part that many climbers ignore is anaerobic training. Many athletes, especially touring cyclists and triathletes, ignore the need for training above threshold because their events don’t necessarily require it. By training above threshold level, not only will you improve V02 max and anaerobic endurance, you will also improve threshold power. In addition, it will prepare you to follow accelerations and adjust to grade variations.
Technique Tips

5. Positioning - Start the climb near the front. If you start near the back, not only will you have to keep the pace of the lead riders, you will have to make the additional effort of accelerating around dropped riders. A strong climber might be able to bridge one or two gaps, but if it is a long climb and a big pack, eventually they will burn their last match and go off the back, even if their power-to-weight ratio is higher than that of the leaders.
In races such as the Vuelta Sonora, I’ve had to fight for wheels at the base of the climbs, the same way sprinters do at the end of a criterium. We were smashing shoulders, pushing each other out of the way, riding each other off the road. It’s quite amusing seeing these skinny little guys, normally considered somewhat docile, getting so aggressive.

6. Pay Attention – Don’t just look at the move in front of you; try to see two or three moves ahead. Pay attention to everything. Listen to the breathing of the riders around you. Notice what gear they are in and if they discretely shift into a bigger one. Watch out for a rider who seems fresh and is looking around sizing up his competition. Look up the road for switchbacks or changes in pitch that may spark an attack. If you are not paying attention, by the time you shift, get out of the saddle and accelerate, the attacking rider may have opened up a gap that will take considerable effort to close.
If you can predict which rider is about to pounce, stay right on her wheel and then match her acceleration. In this case, all you have to do is keep his pace rather than sprint to catch up with him and then attempt to stay on his wheel. Similarly, keep your eye out for a rider who is about to be dropped. If you see her start to struggle, shift gears, or rock her body back and forth, don’t sit around waiting to see if she’ll hang on. Immediately accelerate and take the wheel she was on. Closing one bike length might not be that difficult, but if you wait till he has dropped, you might be required to close three or four.

7. Follow Through - Whatever you do, do not sit up as you crest the hill. It’s tempting to think, "Great, we made it to the top, I’m safe." I've seen riders do just that. They lose three bike lengths to the rider in front just as they begin the descent, or they get gapped by the rider in front of them and never catch back on. You’ve done the hard part. Don’t do all that work just to get dropped on the descent.

To master the psychological aspects of getting over hills, read Mind Over Mountain: Mental Tips for Climbing.

Josh Horowitz is a USCF certified coach and an active Category 1 racer. For more information about his coaching services and any coaching questions you may have, check out his website, LiquidFitness.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Downhill Side

We are nearing the end of indoor spinning for this season. Here is what the next few weeks look like:

Sundays 11:15 am
Wednesdays 5:30 pm

March 18th-Climb Higher Part I
We will be focusing on our climbing skills for the last few weeks. I noticed that this was where we all slowed down on our outdoor ride a few weeks ago. Let's be ready to attack all those hills that are coming up this summer.

March 22nd-Outside (weather permitting) This is just for you Cindy!!! If the weather is nasty we will repeat the climbing workout from Wednesday.

March 25th-Climb Higher Part 2
We will continue to practice climbing. Depending on how many people are in class, we might all be on a double riser block to simulate some steep hills. I know a few of you are getting ready for Elephant Rock. This is a very hilly course, let's make get in our practice rounds early.

March 29-Outside (weather permitting) If the weather is nasty we will repeat the climbing workout from Wednesday.

April 1st-Climb Higher Part 3
No fooling, this will be the toughest workout all year long. I wouldn't throw it your way if you couldn't handle it. You may not notice how much each of you has come this winter, but I get to see it every week. Keeping up the great work!!!

Our grand finale spin class will be held on April 5th. It's a test of your endurance, sheer will, and determination. For each 15-minute session you ride, you will earn 1 ticket into the drawing for all kinds of prizes. So bring your favorite snacks, energy drinks, and goodies in your cooler, your favorite lawn chair, and set your goal for how many tickets you want to earn. There is a flier attached with the rules (just for you Alison). You must RSVP!! I only have 25 trainers for this event. So send me your RSVP ASAP. See the flier for all the details.

I am in the second draft phase of getting things ready for the summer rides. I am so excited. Plan on mini clinics, field trips, bike-to-run transition practices, and so much more.

Feel free to write on the blog, post your favorite rides and find riding buddies.

Enjoy your week!!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back to Normal....Well almost

I've missed you all. The sale went great. It was the best one I've been through yet. I saw many of you go through the lines at the cash wrap and use your coupons. I can't wait to hear about the new goodies you bought.

We will do the Boot Camp class I've been saving up. Its a good, tough workout. We might have to share part of the spin room with some leftover bikes from Deals on Wheels. But if worse comes to worst, I'll find a creative way to include bike moving into our workout. Just kidding. For all the new people I met and talked to this weekend at the sale, remember your bike, shoes, towel, and water bottles for class.

Wednesday 5:30 pm
Sunday 11:15 am

I am continuing to work on the April 5th Spin-A-Thon, Summer schedules for both the Beginners on Wednesday nights and the Intermediate/Advanced group, and a survey on SurveyMonkey. Don't be surprised if we spend a few of our last Sundays outside if the weather cooperates. I will send out an email with all the details if we do change it up.

I can't wait to see all your smiling faces in class.

Enjoy your week!!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Time to Commit

First the schedule:
March 4 and 8-no class
March 11 and 15-Boot Camp
From here things should go back to normal

Second a recap of yesterday's amazing outdoor ride. We meet here at the store yesterday to a somewhat cloudy day. All 15 of us were so excited to be outside instead of stuck on a trainer. We rode through Cherry Creek State Park and racked up 21 miles over a few leisurely hours. We only had two minor mechanical problems that held us up for a little while. What a great way to end the weekend.

Its that time of year where races and events still have room for you to sign up and are generally $10 to $30 cheaper since you are signing up early. I would like to see each of you choose at least one event this summer. There are so many different kinds to choose from: bike rides, tri's, du's, and running. The best place to look for events is on active.com or ask your girlfriends which races they have done and enjoyed.

Here's my input. Last year was my first year in triathlon. I did the Danskin, Tri for the Cure, My Way or The Tri Way, Dip and Dash, Rattlesnake, and I volunteered for the Du Wop (now being called the Colorado Wild Women Duathlon). All these races/events were so much fun. I learned how a event like this runs in addition to learning about myself as an athlete and a person.

The Venus de Miles ride is the only all women's ride in Colorado. If enough people committed, we could sign up as a team and ride together. Each person can choose which distance (35 miles, 50 miles, or 65 miles) to ride. Here's the info:

Date: August 30th
Starting Place: Prospect Park in Longmont
Benefactor: Greenhouse Scholarship Program
Cost: until 4/15 $68, 4/16 to 8/26 $79, day of $100

If I can get 20 women to commit to this ride, I will create a team and everyone can sign up on active.com on their own. Deadline to commit is March 20th. After that date, I will set up our team. We can make this our big event of the year. (This could be the one event that you commit yourself to)

Speaking of events, I am working on this summer's ride schedule. I have the Beginner/Wednesday group all set up with mini clinics and short rides starting from Bicycle Village Aurora. There are a few chances to practice the bike to run transition for our triathletes.

For the Intermediate/Advanced group, I am in the process of planning a few trips to ride with our Saturday Group Ride at the Boulder store, going to see the colors change at the end of season near Vail, and organizing a weekend ride retreat with Patricia who has offered her cabin for use. More details to follow on all these activities.

So during your break from spin class, enjoy this nice weather by getting out on your bike.