Time Trial- How To

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Time Trial- How To

Today, we have our monthly ALP Ride (coach/athlete ride). The goal of this month's ride is to not only pre ride the Morgul Time Trial near Boulder, Colorado- but to dial in our time trailing strategy so no matter what the course, our ALP athletes would know how to look at the course and come up with their own individual race plans.

 Alison Powers in route to winning the 2014 National TT

Alison Powers in route to winning the 2014 National TT

 

2 time National Time Trial Champion Alison Powers, former Swiss TT champ Patricia Schwager, and ALP Coach extraordinaire Jen Sharp will lead the ride and talk about the key elements of Time Trialling. These elements include-

1- How to look at a course and break it into sections- then create a plan for each section

2- How to carry your speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners

3- How to create speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners

4- Being aerodynamic while limiting movement and staying relaxed.

We will analyze the course, come up with a race plan, and tackle each section with 100% effort. We will video so our ALP athletes can see how they look on their bikes while going hard. We can analyze things such as- does the athlete stay aero dynamic, where is their head position, and how much movement do they have when riding?

Time trials are the purest of all bike races. It's you against the clock; where your legs do the talking. It sounds simple in theory - the fastest person wins. But it's far from the easiest discipline. Time trials are a true test of not only physical but mental fitness. Below you'll find some tips that will help you in your next time trial.

1. Dial in your equipment.

Preferably, several weeks before your race. Showing up to a time trial with a bike for the first time without any saddle time can spell disaster. If you can, get a professional bike fitter to assist you in dialing in your position. The shorter the TT, the more aerodynamic you'll want to be. Equipment also includes race wheels and a rear disc, aero helmets, booties, skin suits, etc. If you have long hair, put it in a bun and tuck it inside of your helmet or braid it. If your time trial is under an hour, take off your water bottle cage.

2. Practice, practice, practice.

 Once you've dialed in your equipment and position, you must practice being in the aerodynamic position. It will take your body a little while to adapt to this position, and riding your time trial bike in the aero position is the best way to do this.

3. Cornering.

You can't win a time trial by cornering, but you can lose it in the corners by dumping your bike, over-braking or going off course. Practice corners and 180 degree turnarounds. It's okay to come out of the aero bars to navigate a corner. Just get back up to speed and into your bars as quickly as possible.

4. Limit your movement.

 Meaning, don't look down at your computer, back behind you, in front of you and repeat. Keep your eyes forward, neck turtled, and arms in the aero bars. Additional movement creates drag and extra drag slows you down. Your legs should be moving and that's it.

5. Pre-ride the course.

If you can pre-ride the course a week or more before, do it. Practice key sections and time yourself so you know how hard you need to push it during each part. Memorize sections so you know how much further you have until the finish. Visualize the course before you go to bed each night, practicing key sections in your head.

6. Time trial is about what happens between the ears.

Positive self talk is critical to your success. Coming up with a mantra in practice will help you during a race. Alison came up with a great one, printed on the collar of every ALP Cycles Coaching jersey: Better. Faster.Stronger.

 

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Local Racing, Pro Mindset

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Local Racing, Pro Mindset

By Daphne Karagianis, Category 1 Rider for THE METEOR // INTELLIGENTISA

Now that racing is underway I’m on the road every week competing at the PRT/UCI level. The competition is the best in the country, and I welcome the challenge. But with that challenge comes a lot of getting your ass kicked. Eventually your legs get a little stronger—but perhaps most importantly, your head gets a lot smarter.

Lately I have found it is easier to doubt myself than it is to build myself up. During races my head is swarmed with negative thoughts. It’s easy to feel like you don’t belong among racers who have been racing their bikes for decades. Or to hear yourself breathing heavily and think you’re the only one suffering. It’s been a slow progression for me—lots of persistence and hard work. This year was my fourth time at Joe Martin Stage Race and I could recognize all the points where I used to get dropped as I whizzed by them on my way to riding in the break.

The mind plays tricks, so trick right back. For every inevitable negative thought, counter it immediately with a positive statement. This helped me most recently during a local race series. Three laps into the final crit stage I attacked and went on a solo break. In swarmed the negative thoughts— too soon, you can’t hold this, the headwind is too strong, you’ll be caught with one to go and then what?!. Even in this moment where I knew I was the strongest, I still couldn’t believe it. So I countered— keep pushing, smooth pedal strokes, they have to deal with the wind too. I finished on the top step and took home some much needed confidence.

Taking the chance to race locally throughout a Pro Road Tour season is essential. It’s good to be the punisher instead of the punished. It helps build confidence, work on skills, and strengthen the fields in your local community. Then when you line up for the bigger races, just imagine yourself right back there with your hometown crowds. And if you’ve only been racing locally, it’s time to push yourself to that next level. It will hurt, but guaranteed you will learn and grow as a rider and then start smashing locally.

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When racing locally, make sure to bring your best crew.

#fashun

Remember your post-up moment and visualize it for that next pro race

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Make sure to have chill times and enjoy the scenery.

 

 

#stressfree

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Thank the officials for their hard work and take a glamour shot.

 

 

#WISCONSIN

Still with me? Insider tip: The mirror inside the porto-potty pre-race is for you to look into your eyes and tell yourself how amazing you are. Try it.

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5 Tips to Avoid Getting Dropped

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5 Tips to Avoid Getting Dropped

By Alison Powers- ALP Cycles Coaching

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1. Get in the draft

Learn to draft off other riders and be comfortable riding in close proximity to others. If you draft behind another rider who is cutting into the wind you gain an advantage. Up to 40% less energy can be used in the draft when a group of people are riding together. To be the most effective when drafting, a cyclist needs to be as close as possible to the bicycle in front of them. The shorter the distance the larger the decrease in wind resistance. This means, if you stay tucked nicely in the group of riders, you will save energy, and thus, have more energy available for uphill or fast sections, and have less of a change of getting dropped.

2. A little bit now or a lot later
If a gap does open, close it quickly. A little bit now or a lot later means you can suffer a little bit now and close the gap, or you can suffer a lot later when you are all on your own and chasing the group. If a gap does open, do not panic but be decisive and quick in your response to close a gap. Why waste 1-2 (or more) minutes chasing the group, when you could have dug a little deeper and closed it in 3 seconds and then be back with the group and recovering in the draft?

3. Be aware of terrain changes and wind conditions
Every time a group ride comes to a hill, the riders surge and the pace picks up. If you pay attention and see the hill coming, you can be ready to shift, stand up, and follow the pace of the group. If you are not aware and did not see the hill coming then you are caught reacting to the group and you are already a step behind, slowing down, and struggling to keep up. Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to act on what is going to happen- be proactive. If the group is riding in a tail wind and then makes a left hand turn, there will be a cross wind. Plan ahead (before the turn) to be on the side out of the wind when the group exits the turn.

 

4. Spin, high cadence pedaling
Make sure you are spinning the easiest gear possible (for you) in a group. Be aware of the other riders’ leg speed and cadence and make sure you are pedaling at least at the same cadence or hopefully slightly faster. Spinning at a higher cadence allows you to react quicker to pace and terrain changes than one that is mashing a bigger gear. You can always switch to a bigger gear later on in the ride- as you get tired- but it is very hard to go the opposite way- to go from mashing to spinning without losing power.

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5. Suffer, HTFU, and never give up.

The best advice I have ever gotten about bike racing was this- ‘whatever you do, do not let go of that wheel. The pace will slow down and it won’t go this fast forever.’ Bike racing and hard group rides involve suffering. Our hearts beat fast, our legs hurt, it’s hard to breath, but if you can dig deep and push yourself to stay on the wheel (in the draft), the pace will slow and you will still have contact with the group. If you give up too quickly, you are forced to ride on your own and will never know your limit or how much you can really suffer to stay with the group. Do whatever you can to stay with the group- shift gears, stand up, sprint, grunt, cry, vomit—whatever it takes.

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Dear Athlete: Help Me, Help You.

Written by ALP Coach, Jennifer Sharp

A great coach should be an athletes best advocate. We're looking out for your best interests - to help you succeed at your goals and perform at your absolute best on game day. And although you may think otherwise when you're assigned intervals and hill climbs, we really are putting you first. 

We take into account your physiology, outside factors such as home life, work balance, kids, schedules, stressors - you name it. When you develop a relationship with your coach, you're getting more than just a training plan. You're getting constant feedback, ways to make each workout/interval better, how to plan ahead for important races and more. I'm constantly thinking about each athlete and how to improve their training and make sure they have the global balance they need in their lives to perform at their absolute best.

That's why it's so important to leave post-activity comments. It's your chance as an athlete to help your coach by providing context to a ride. You don't have to write much - at bare minimum including how a workout felt (that was hard/easy/between the two) and anything else that may be going on that had an impact on your performance (weather, hydration, nutrition, self-talk, stressors, etc.). 

Help me, help you.

Help us, help you. 

If you want to get the most out of your coach/athlete relationship, then the more you put into your training and feedback, the more we as coaches can help. Fill out your race calendar, include work or life events that are coming up, above all - communicate this with your coach. 

Figuring out how to communicate best with your coach and establishing that trust can take time. I have some athletes who I only use the TrainingPeaks app comments, others who mainly text, some who prefer a phone call (even if it's under 5 minutes), and some who like to post their stories on Instagram. Any and ALL of these methods work for me. I want to know about the outside factors in your life that are affecting how you train and race because a happy racer is a fast racer.

"Hey! See, that's the difference between us. You think we're fighting and I think we're finally talking!" 

For those who struggle to come up with post-activity comments, here's a list to get you started. Being an observer of what you experience will help you get the most out of your training.

- How did the ride go? What did it feel like? Was it hard or easy? Was there anything about the workout that surprised you? Is there any area that you felt you could improve on? Do you have any questions for your coach about the specifics of the workout or want to know why you're doing what you're doing? 

- Was weather a factor? How was your hydration and/or nutrition? What about your self-talk? Is your bike functioning properly? Is there anything going on at home or at work? 

Sure you may have hired your coach to help you with your cycling, but we're also part sports psychologists and want to help in whatever way we can. Chances are you'll be even more motivated and inspired to complete a workout if you know your coach genuinely cares. And yes, we care deeply.

 

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Head Space

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Head Space

Written by ALP Coaches Alison Powers, Patricia Schwager and Jennifer Sharp

In order to reach peak performance during competition, our bodies and minds need to be prepared and ready. What goes on between our ears leading up to the competition and during competition can make or break the result. 

In December, ALP Coach, Jennifer Sharp wrote about the importance of having a solid mental game leading into a big event (link to that blog post here). She described the things she worked on and prepared for in order to win a World Track Championship. All of her preparation lead her to having an ideal Head Space during competition. What makes race day "Head Space" so interesting is that it's different for everyone. Some athletes like to be quiet and focus on the start line while others prefer to chitchat with teammates or the competition for distraction. No matter where you fall between being focused and chitchatting, it's important to realize what you need to perform your best and to be able to repeat it at each competition.

Here, are 3 opinions on race day Head Space and how it was achieved day in and day out. 

Being in The Zone by Alison Powers

I grew up ski racing and as a ski racer, my mental game had to be strong. Our races were rarely longer than 95sec, and with speeds up to 80mph, any mistake that was made could ruin your chance at a good result and/or your season with an injury. During a race run, there was no time to think about anything other than executing a great run. Any distracting or negative thoughts could send you into the fence.  Because of this, a lot of my time training was spent on mental training learning to find and stay in The Zone- "Being in the Zone is arguably the most perfect state to work from. It is a state where your awareness of time almost disappears and you are one with what you do. Although this perfect harmony usually feels effortless, it is the mental state where we produce our greatest results. So you could say flow is the state where peak performance happens. If we could willingly get into The Zone, or flow state as it's also called, especially among athletes, we could use this great state anytime we would want to produce something outstanding."  http://www.myrkothum.com/flow-into-the-zone/

I brought this intense focus and mental game to bike racing. I would memorize every race course and/or critical moment of a race (positioning going into a climb, last 4 laps of a criterium, the final sprint, technical corners and descents, etc) and, in my Zone head space, I could execute what needed to be done for either the team or for myself. It didn't matter how my body felt or how tired my legs were. In the Zone state, I could read the race, execute the team plan, and it seemed effortless and easy. 

 In the Zone at the start of the 2013 Criterium National Championships. 90min later, I won the race. 

In the Zone at the start of the 2013 Criterium National Championships. 90min later, I won the race. 

Now that my bike racing career is over, I can look back and honestly say my ability to achieve The Zone or Flow mental state while racing was my biggest strength. I know this because races where the Zone was fleeting, I was too. 

Head space on race day by Patricia Schwager

Here are my experiences with getting into the zone or right Head Space for race day: 

First of all, this is something very individual. Just because a certain routine works great for athlete X doesn't mean it will also work great for athlete Y. Some athletes prefer to listen to music and complete their own warm-up routine, others like the company and talking/ joking around with teammates, staff and other athletes. Still the goal is for every athlete the same: to get focused for the upcoming race and to be ready to perform. Ideally you are excited but not too nervous. You should know the race course and the team tactics/ plan (or your own plan if you are racing alone). Whenever possible you have ridden the race course in training or warm-up and you know exactly where the difficult, hard parts will be. Now, it isn't always possible to recon the entire race course but if you don't have the chance to pre-ride then you still can be well prepared with looking at maps, profiles, videos etc.

Personally, I preferred to have my own routine for time trials. I made sure to know the race course, I had my own map where I added personal notes about the course. I followed my own routine with a warm-up program on the trainer and I had a music playlist that was exactly the length of my trainer warm-up. After completing my warm-up I made sure, that there was time included for one last bathroom stop, to put on my aero helmet etc. and to be at the start in time. Doing my usual warm-up routine would calm my nerves and it was the perfect way to build up my focus for the TT. I tried to avoid any stress or influence from other things around me because that would make me lose my focus. For road races on the other hand, I liked to do a warm-up ride with my teammates, to pre ride the final few KM's of the race course (if possible) and to chat. It helped me to not overthink things and to stay calm.

 Warming up for the TT at Worlds 2012 in Valkenburg (NED)

Warming up for the TT at Worlds 2012 in Valkenburg (NED)

It takes time and practice to find your own routine and to find out what works best. Try different routines and see which one helps you best to find your way into the zone or right head space. If you need help or advice ask your coach....all 3 ALP Cycles Coaches have plenty of experience to share! :)

Focusing on the Process by Jennifer Sharp

I love racing. A lot. For as long as I've been racing, I race roughly 60 times a year in both road and track. There's something about pinning on a number and bringing your best on that day that has me well into my second decade of racing. 

I've found my best performances occur when I dial in the details the night before: organizing my race bag with the essentials I need, figuring out the logistics of where and when I need to be at the race venue, and organizing and timing of food, hydration and recovery.  I know that I prefer to be at the race 90 minutes beforehand so I can pick up my number, pin it, get a good warmup in, and show up to the line. I toe to the line confident in my preparation and training, knowing that the hay is in the barn and all I have to do is race my bike. Having those details squared away really allows me to be in the moment. 

I love racing at national events where the National anthem is played right before the start whistle sounds. It gives me a moment to reflect on how fortunate I am to live in a place where I can race my bike with my friends and against great competition. Gratitude calms me down before going into battle and trying to rip my own legs off. Once that whistle blows, I know it's business time and I'm ready to live in each moment, work my way to the front and stay there. 

Mental Training should be part of your normal training routine. Work and practice at dialing in your own race day head space.

Thank you Dejan Smaic for the cover photo

 

 

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ALP Cycles Race Team Camp 2018

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ALP Cycles Race Team Camp 2018

by ALP Cycles Coach Patricia Schwager

Last week, the majority of the ALP Cycles racing team members spent 4 days in Grand Junction for the annual team camp. The camp was organized and coached by ALP Cycles coaches Alison and Paddy plus guest coach Brianna Walle.

The goal of the camp was to ride together, improve skills, get stronger, get to know each other better plus to learn what it really means "working together as a team" on and off the bike. Each evening we had a meeting and each rider had to look back and find 1 thing that was positive in her ride and 1 thing that needed to be improved for the following day. The individual goals were important details such as: drinking 1 bottle per hour during the ride, riding closer to the wheel in front, keeping a tight box (riding close and level to the person next to you), staying focused, paying more attention to cadence, apply the learned skills to corner better etc.

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Day 1: included a ride through the Colorado National Monument. Due to road constructions at the East entrance we had to improvise the route and did an out& back ride using the West entrance only. It was a great ride with a lot of climbing and the "Rim Rock Drive" road was perfect to work on descending skills as well.

 

Day 2: we headed out together towards Reeder Mesa, Purdy Mesa and Kannah Creek. Once we reached the hilly area we split up into 3 groups. Each of the 3 groups had a coach and worked on skills tailored to the fitness& skills level of the group. The route also included the collegiate Nationals road race course. A very hilly route that got more challenging with added in sprints and QOM's.

Day 3: was our "flat" route. We started the ride rode together as big group. In Fruita, we split up into 3 groups again. The goal was to practice and improve rotating pacelines and single pacelines. It was impressive to see how well each of the 3 groups worked together in this ride. The coaches took videos in order to improve the small details with each group. The big bonus today was stopping at a coffee shop in Fruita on the way home :)

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Day 4: last day of camp. The coaches found a great loop in a nearby neighborhood for race practice. The loop was 2,7mi long and undulating. Two short but steep climbs and a fast downhill made for a tough course. We had 4 groups with 4 to 6 riders in each group. The first race was a team time trial to pratice how to work together the best and riding the loop as fast as possible. The 2nd race was a race without teammates so each rider had to find a way on how to beat the rest of the riders in her group.

Everyone was tired after 4 solid days on the bike. The camp was a big success and every member of the ALP Cycles racing team for sure learned something new or improved fitness and skills. For us coaches, it was a pleasure to work with this motivated group.

Let the race season begin!

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A More Complete Cyclist

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A More Complete Cyclist

By Head ALP Coach and 5-time National Champion Alison Powers

If there was one magic training tool that you could do to become a better, faster, and more confident cyclist, would you do it? For most of us, the answer would be 'yes". Unfortunately, not very many people do this one thing. What is this one magic ticket? Improve your bike handling skills. While training, most people are focused on how many watts they are pushing instead of how many times they brake through a corner. Being able to carry speed through a corner or sit in the draft of a peloton is free speed. No intervals or recovery days are needed for free speed.

30 minutes, once a week is all it takes to vastly improve your skills and gain free speed through corners, in a pack, on single track, etc. With good bike handling skills, you will be relaxed, confident, and recovering, while others struggle, slow down, and lose valuable speed.

Here are 6 drills you can do, on your own, to improve your bike handling skills.

The Slow Race

- Pick a start and finish line about 30 meters apart and go as slow as possible from start to finish. Practice this drill standing and seated.- Goal- work on balance

Cone Pick-Up

- Place a cone or water bottle on the ground and slowly ride by and pick it up off the ground. Goal- balance, body/ bike separation, and the basic beginnings of proper cornering.

Slalom

- set a cone (or water bottle) slalom and ride through the cones while standing and seated. Goal- dynamic movements, bike/body separation, looking ahead, balance.

Off Set Slalom

- set a cone (or water bottle) slalom with direction changes and ride through the cones while standing and seated. Goal- dynamic movements, bike/body separation, looking ahead, balance, working the bike and creating speed.

Bunny Hop

- set two cones or a water bottle on the ground and practice jumping over it while riding. Goal- learn to avoid holes, crubs, debris, rocks, etc. Timing, looking ahead, anticipating.

Parking Space Figure-8's

- Find a parking space, or two, and ride figure 8's within the space. Goal- balance, steering your bike, looking ahead, feathering brakes.

 

This is just a sampling of the many bike handling skills and drills that can be done to make yourself a better and more confident cyclist.

 

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What I didn't know then....I'll teach now

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What I didn't know then....I'll teach now

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

My first roadie race was in 2005 in New Hampshire. It was a Criterium, and other than watching the Tour de France on TV, I had never seen a road bike race. I knew nothing about racing a criterium and I made many mistakes that day. Tomorrow (Saturday) my fellow ALP Cycles Coaching coaches and I will be coaching a criterium clinic in Boulder. We are going to teach the things I didn't know 13 years ago in New Hampshire. 

4 things I didn't know.... we'll teach tomorrow. 

1) Tactics. I had no idea about race tactics in a criterium or really any race at all. I had a fair amount of mountain bike racing in my past and I just usually rode away from the field on the uphills and hoped to not get caught on the downhills. That tactic didn't work in this criterium. I rode on the front of the race for the entire race, pulling the rest of the Cat 3/4 field around and around. 40min later, with 200 meters to go, everyone- EVERYONE- sprinted past me to the finish line. 

2) How to ride in a group, especially around corners- Part of the reason why I rode on the front of the race, that day in New Hampshire, is because I was afraid to be near any other riders. And, going around a corner in a pack of riders, forget about it. That made me really nervous. 

3) Sprinting- I was a typical ride-by-myself-hammering-at-all-times kind of rider. I never changed pace, I never got out of the saddle, and I had never sprinted on my road bike. 

4) Cornering- I did not know that my "normal" cornering skill and ability was faster and more confident than most other rider's abilities. 13 years ago, I slowed down to wait for the group to catch back up with me after each corner.

I now know that these are common "unknowns" for many bike racers- both new and experienced. Come join Jennifer, Patricia, and me tomorrow for 3 hrs of criterium racing 101 learning, practicing, training, and becoming more confident and faster. It's only $30 and the proceeds go to ALP Cycles Racing to pay entry fees for team races. Registration closes tonight- 

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The Best Recovery Tool of All Time: SLEEP.

Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

It's choose your own adventure time.... It's been a long week. You've had multiple deadlines at work and still managed to fit in your daily training prescribed by your coach. You've had to cut your nightly sleep totals by 30-60 minutes each night and by Friday, you're more than ready for the weekend. Do you: A) Let loose and unwind from the week. Go out with friends, have a few drinks, stay up late and plan on catching up on your sleep during the weekend - that's what coffee was invented for, right? Or B) Get a nutritious, well balanced meal and head to bed early.

Option A lets you unwind from a busy week and celebrate the successes you've had. You've done your training and use Friday night as a reward. Connecting with your friends is important and what's one more night of staying up late? You still have green on all of your workouts in TrainingPeaks for the week and your coach won't know if you have a little fun.

Option B could be considered the boring route. Yet your body is craving some nourishment and you provide it in the form of leafy green vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats, water, eating roughly 3 hours before you hit the hay. You're in bed reading your favorite book and turn off the lights by 9pm. 

If you picked Option A - keep reading. You had a great time with your friends and stayed up well past midnight. The next morning you oversleep your group ride and decide to hit the snooze button several times. Once you get up, you've got a raging headache, so you pop a couple of anti-inflammatories and grab some coffee. You check your email and discover that one of your clients wants you to rework the marketing plan you laid out by 2pm. You glance at the clock and it's noon. You decide to blow off training (you were good all week - what's one day off?) and get to work. Two hours later you still can't focus, so you turn in sub par work and decide to go for a ride but don't feel well and chalk it up to hanging out late with your friends the night before. By dinner time, you start to feel a tickle in your throat. By Sunday you have a full blown cold and have missed two days of quality training. 

If you picked Option B (or regret picking option A) - keep reading. You wake up the following morning refreshed and have a little extra time to do your activation movements before your group ride. That morning you put a couple of really strong pulls at the front of the group, making the front selection over the most challenging hill. You return home and see an email from a client requesting that you rework the marketing plan you laid out. You agree with their comments and quickly get to work, finishing their edits and suggestions within 30 minutes. You have the rest of the day to recover from your morning ride and take a 30 minute nap. Feeling refreshed, you connect with your friends and still make it in bed by 9pm so you can get in some quality training the following day.

We're all faced with daily choices that can impact our mental clarity and physical performance. One decision won't make it or break it, but by putting your sleep quality and hygiene first, you can improve your hormonal and cognitive performances.  Getting quality sleep is getting more and more focus in elite athletics because if its impact it can have on performance. 

 Sometimes an 8 minute nap can make all the difference. Ben Sharp has the amazing ability to fall asleep anywhere - and this time is in the middle of a chaotic track world cup. Photo courtesy of Coryn Rivera.

Sometimes an 8 minute nap can make all the difference. Ben Sharp has the amazing ability to fall asleep anywhere - and this time is in the middle of a chaotic track world cup. Photo courtesy of Coryn Rivera.

Interested in improving your sleep quality? Here are some tips that you can use to increase your sleep hygiene.

1) Maintain a regular bed and wake time. If you know you need to get up early in order to get your workout in before you head out the door to work or school, then get to bed early enough so you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. Having a regular bed time will help regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep each night.

2) Create a quiet, cool and dark bedroom environment. Sleep.org recommends sleep environments between 60 to 67 degrees because it can aid in the initiation of decreasing your body temperature, which happens right before you snooze. Experiment with different temperatures and see which one works best for you. Use black out curtains to create a cave like environment and make sure it's quiet. If your partner snores, using ear plugs or white noise machines can help.

3) Avoid caffeine and other stimulants prior to sleep. For some, this may mean cutting off the coffee before 3pm. For others, this may mean no caffeine at all, especially if you have a sensitivity.

4) Avoid blue-light emitting devices in the hours prior to sleep. That means no late night Instagram binge checking, or watching movies on a device. If you need entertaining as you wind down at night, a good old fashioned book will do the trick.

5) Use relaxation strategies before bed. This can include an evening meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, deep, conscious breathing and visualization exercises. 

 And down for the count. Like I said - Ben can nap ANYWHERE. This was taken just after a morning time trial. 

And down for the count. Like I said - Ben can nap ANYWHERE. This was taken just after a morning time trial. 

 

Have some tips and sleep strategies you'd like to share? Please leave them in the comments below. Happy training and sleeping!

 

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The Importance of Race Weight

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The Importance of Race Weight

This week's blog post is a throw back to one of our more popular posts. As the season draws near, should you be focused on pounds, watts, both? 

Power to weight ratio. Watts per Kilogram. Race weight. Three different ways to say it, one simple meaning; however much you weigh, you must have the strength and fitness (power) to move that weight. The theory simply states the less you weigh, and the more power you have, the faster of a bike rider you will be.

Does this mean we all need to go on a diet and get as lean and as small as possible in order to be a fast bike rider? No. Well, it depends. It depends on what your goals are. It depends on what type of bike riding and/or racing you do. It depends on what type of bike rider you are and what body type you have.

Power to weight really comes into play when you are fighting gravity- i.e. climbing. The more body weight you have, the more you have to fight gravity and the stronger you need to be. For example, if I am riding uphill along side fellow ALP Coach Paddy, who weights 25-30 pounds less than I do, I would be riding along at ~250watts while she is “only” riding at ~215watts. Now imagine if I lost those 30 pounds but kept my power. I would fly up the hill. However, there is a good chance, that in losing those 30 pounds, more than half of those pounds would be muscle mass and thus, I would lose power and not be nearly as strong, as powerful, and as fast on the flats.

In determining your ideal race weight, first evaluate your goals. What kind of riding and racing will you be doing and what is the terrain of those rides/races? If your answer is long sustained climbing, rides/races with big and or steep climbing, then perhaps, in addition to gaining fitness and power, it’s time to look over your diet and training to see where you can shed some pounds. On the flip side, if the answer is flatter and/or rolling terrain, sprinting and/or sprint finishes, or a moderate amount of climbing, then focus on a good clean diet, but mostly, focus on getting as fit and as powerful as possible. Plus, there’s a good chance that while getting as fit and as powerful as possible, you lose a few unwanted pounds anyway.

In all honesty, I think too much emphasis is put on the power to weight ratio. At the end of the day, the person with the most determination, never-give-up, suffer like a mo-fo attitude will beat the person with better power to weight ratio who can’t suffer and gives up easily. We all want to be lean mean fighting machines. Some will be leaner than others and some will be meaner than others. Focus on your goals, your training, your diet, your mental toughness and fortitude, and success will come—weighing 150 pounds or 125 pounds.

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