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bike racing

What Does it Take to be the Best?

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What Does it Take to be the Best?

By Alison Powers

While visiting my parents a few weeks ago, my Mom asked me to clean some of my old stuff from the closet. I found many notebooks of old training logs, on snow training plans, workout ideas, and more training logs. As a ski racer, I kept amazing track of my daily workouts, training, goals, etc. Notebooks and notebooks of training logs.

I also found an old speech I had given when I was 18 years old.  My former ski coach asked me to come talk to the younger kids about how I made it to the US ski team and then onto race in the World Cup. I thought this was a great idea for a speech because I had never had anyone ask how I made it to the US ski team. And what should a person do to make it to the US Ski Team?

Although this speech is directed toward ski racing, it is very applicable to bike racing and to sports in general. I liked it so much, that I wanted to share it.

Here is that speech.

How did I make it onto the US ski team and on to race in the World Cup? Now that I think about it, I knew all along what it took to make the US ski team. And what it takes to race the World Cup and what it takes to win a World Cup. And, all of you know what it is too.

So what is it? What do I know now that I knew then? To be a fast ski racer and to have the kind of success I had or even more success, it takes a lot of hard work, focus, sacrifice, and talent. No big surprise, is it?

For me, my hard work, focus, and sacrifice were 100% every day. There was no half assing it or kind of doing it. 100%. All the time.

Ski racing is you, the clock, and the course. If you have not put in your time before that moment, you won't be going fast. It's you that races, it's you that trains, it's you that works hard on and off the snow. It's you that does everything. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it for yourself. Your coaches can only do so much. Your parents can only do so much. Your teammates can only do so much. At the end of the day, it's you who has to work for yourself and your dreams.

Hard work, focus, and sacrifice. Anyone can do it, but the only the strong ones go through with it.

I wanted so badly to make the US Ski Team and to race in the Olympics that everything I did revolved around ski racing. If something was somehow going to get in the way of racing or training I was not going to do it.

Focus. I was extremely focused on the hill while training. If a coach told me to keep my hands up and forward, then I was working on my hands up and forward while skiing to the course, on the course, and from the course to the lift. Once on the chair lift, I visualized myself skiing with my hands up and forward.

I also had unbelievable support. Support from my coaches at Winter Park Ski Area, support from my parents, and from my family. A person cannot be successful in sport if they are not 100% supported by family, friends, and coaches.

So pretty much, here is my message. If you want to be a world-class ski racer do everything possible to be one. No half assed tries. Full bore ski racing. If you're not on the podium today, it doesn't really matter. But it does mean, you will have to work harder than the ones who are on the podium. But believe me, it's worth it. As you start beating the ones on the podium now, it feels good. Your hard work will pay off.

If you are on the podium today, your opportunities in ski racing could be amazing. Do not slack off and let your talent pass you by. Work hard, keep working hard, and represent. Because if you don't, you'll be passed and beaten by people like me, who were not on the podium today. And they'll be sticking their tongues out at you. 

 

 

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High Performance Camp- Recap

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High Performance Camp- Recap

As coaches, we continually look for ways to make our ALP athletes better, faster, stronger, and more knowledgable. We want them to be the best athletes they can possibly be. 

Personally, when I (Alison Powers) think back to my racing and training career, I wish I had known many of the things I now know as a coach. So, that lead me to think of ways we can teach our athletes this 'high performance'  knowledge so they can raise their game to the next level. With some brain storming we came up with a new training/learning/teaching camp. The ALP Cycles High Performance Camp. 

What is a high performance camp? A long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) in Boulder, Colorado where we dial in bike fit, proper training, nutrition, and recovery methods, strength training form and exercises, determine weakness and start to fix those, and make sure each and every athelte is 100% prepared to kick ass in 2017. 

Confident bike riders are fast bike riders and one way to gain confidence on the bike is to practice skills and become proficient bike handlers. That's exactly what we did on day 1 of camp. 

We worked on body position, vision, bumping/contact with other riders, balance, cornering, and climbing technique.

Fast bike riders are not only confident on their bike, they are comfortable and powerful on their bike. For our second day at camp, we spent time at Revo Physiotherapy and Sports Performance in Boulder.  We spent 90min learning cycling specific strength exercises we can do to not only become stronger, but to eliminate pain and have correct body dynamics on the bike.  Each rider also got a comprehensive bike fit complete with electro myography to see which muscles are working, and which are not. 

While some riders were getting their bike fits dialed in, others were learning and experiencing the benefits of motor pacing. Come spring time, nothing prepares the body and mind for racing like motor pacing. With a 10mile loop, each athlete got time behind the motor working on leg speed, drafting, paying attention to the wind, anticipating speed changes, and going fast. 

In addition to the on-bike learning each day, we had 5 off-bike presentations. The presentations focused on specific topics to help our athletes take better care of their body, their mind and mental focus, their equipment, and their confidence.  Thursday afternoon, I did a presentation on the benefits of mental imagery and how to practice it (sorry for dropping the 'f' bomb, Mom). 

Saturday, it was time to put into practice the things we had been learning. During our 3 hour bike ride, we climbed 5,000ft, did 3 race simulations on a hilly, technical loop, worked on paclines, descending, and ended with a speed limit sign sprint competition. Legs were good and toasty at the end of the ride. 

We used pee sticks to test riders hydration and nutrition on the bike, and recovery off the bike and from day to day. 

Sunday was all about sprinting. When it comes to a sprint (field sprint, sprinting from a small group, etc), it's all about positioning, timing, and gearing. We worked on all 3 and ended with a 3 lap mock race that ended in a sprint finish. In addition to the learning, several riders set new peak 5 and 10 second power numbers. 

The goal with this High Performance Camp was to arm our athletes with the tools, knowledge, and knowhow needed to raise their game another 5%. 

Mission accomplished. 

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Director Sportif Experience at North Star GP- part 1 team building camp

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Director Sportif Experience at North Star GP- part 1 team building camp

By ALP Coach Patricia Schwager

This blog is about my experience with directing the All Stars Collegiate Team at the North Star GP. It was my first DS job and I was super excited for the opportunity.

About the All Stars Collegiate Team: riders get selected at Collegiate Nationals. Racing for the Collegiate All Stars Team is a unique chance for the girls as they get top support for 2 weeks (at camp and during North Star GP) - all they have to do is race their bike. They get to race against the top women racers in the country- plus they compete in front of the team managers of the top women teams in the nation. Showing a good performance can give them the chance to get a contract with a team.

 I flew to Minneapolis a few days early to meet up with team manager, and ALP athelte, Jill. Together we pre rode the 2 road race stages and made sure everything was ready when the girls arrive.

Notes about one of the stages, making sure I can teach the girls everything about this stage

Notes about one of the stages, making sure I can teach the girls everything about this stage

 Day 1: arrival day. I did airport runs, helped the girls to build their bikes together, packed the van/ car and then drove out to our camp in Amery WI. An easy spin to shake out the legs rounded the day off.

Day 2: was a hot day so we started our training ride early in the morning. 3 hours Endurance including some blocks with rotating pace lines. I was very happy with the improvement- the pace line in the end of the training looked nice and smooth and the girls were riding closely together.

Day 3: 2 hour ride with skills, drills and tactics. We practiced: leadouts, TT-starts, closing gaps, riding up the middle and slalom around teammates, feeding from the car and handing up bottles from the road side. We ended the session with some skills like touching elbows, shoulders etc. In the afternoon I cleaned all the bikes for the girls.

Day 4: was our travel day back to Minneapolis. We stopped in Stillwater for coffee and to pre drive the famous Stillwater criterium course. Buying groceries, settling in in our nice host house and a very easy recovery spin were the other tasks on our program.

Day 5: the day before the race. We got up early to pre ride and do openers on the TT course. I rode with the girls and gave them advice for the TT (which line to take, how to ride the turnaround etc.) Around noon we had a sponsor function at the Medica headquarters (Medica was our team sponsor).  After that the girls all got a massage and had time to relax while I attended the DS meeting.

The whole idea of the camp before the North Star GP was to create a team out of 6 individual riders. My goal was to find the right balance between working hard and having fun. I tried to teach them as much as possible in the 5 days- without over doing it or putting pressure on them. I joined every training ride on my bike- so I could see or teach things 1:1. In my opinion a coach on the bike can teach better than a coach sitting in the car.

I made them work together on and off the bike. We had meetings every day to talk about different topics and the girls asked me a lot of questions. We had nice campfire chats (of course with eating S’mores) and played games or just sat together after dinner to talk about random stuff. A big thank you to Sue and Jay Kakuk for hosting us on their farm- they provided us with delicious food and they also make the best cookies called: Kakookies!

I was very impressed and pleased how everything worked out at camp. The girls were willing to learn and showed great team spirit. We were ready for 5 days of racing!

Part 2 of this blog will follow, to share the experience about racing at NSGP.

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What Does it Take to be the Best?

By Alison Powers

While visiting my parents a few weeks ago, my Mom asked me to clean some of my old stuff from the closet. I found many notebooks of old training logs, on snow training plans, workout ideas, and more training logs. As a ski racer, I kept amazing track of my daily workouts, training, goals, etc. Notebooks and notebooks of training logs.

I also found an old speech I had given when I was 18 years old.  My former ski coach asked me to come talk to the younger kids about how I made it to the US ski team and then onto race in the World Cup. I thought this was a great idea for a speech because I had never had anyone ask how I made it to the US ski team. And what should a person do to make it to the US Ski Team?

Although this speech is directed toward ski racing, it is very applicable to bike racing and to sports in general. I liked it so much, that I wanted to share it.

Here is that speech.

How did I make it onto the US ski team and on to race in the World Cup? Now that I think about it, I knew all along what it took to make the US ski team. And what it takes to race the World Cup and what it takes to win a World Cup. And, all of you know what it is too.

So what is it? What do I know now that I knew then? To be a fast ski racer and to have the kind of success I had or even more success, it takes a lot of hard work, focus, sacrifice, and talent. No big surprise, is it?

For me, my hard work, focus, and sacrifice were 100% every day. There was no half assing it or kind of doing it. 100%. All the time.

Ski racing is you, the clock, and the course. If you have not put in your time before that moment, you won't be going fast. It's you that races, it's you that trains, it's you that works hard on and off the snow. It's you that does everything. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it for yourself. Your coaches can only do so much. Your parents can only do so much. Your teammates can only do so much. At the end of the day, it's you who has to work for yourself and your dreams.

Hard work, focus, and sacrifice. Anyone can do it, but the only the strong ones go through with it.

I wanted so badly to make the US Ski Team and to race in the Olympics that everything I did revolved around ski racing. If something was somehow going to get in the way of racing or training I was not going to do it.

Focus. I was extremely focused on the hill while training. If a coach told me to keep my hands up and forward, then I was working on my hands up and forward while skiing to the course, on the course, and from the course to the lift. Once on the chair lift, I visualized myself skiing with my hands up and forward.

I also had unbelievable support. Support from my coaches at Winter Park Ski Area, support from my parents, and from my family. A person cannot be successful in sport if they are not 100% supported by family, friends, and coaches.

So pretty much, here is my message. If you want to be a world-class ski racer do everything possible to be one. No half assed tries. Full bore ski racing. If you're not on the podium today, it doesn't really matter. But it does mean, you will have to work harder than the ones who are on the podium. But believe me, it's worth it. As you start beating the ones on the podium now, it feels good. Your hard work will pay off.

If you are on the podium today, your opportunities in ski racing could be amazing. Do not slack off and let your talent pass you by. Work hard, keep working hard, and represent. Because if you don't, you'll be passed and beaten by people like me, who were not on the podium today. And they'll be sticking their tongues out at you. 

 

 

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Are You Ready For Race Season?

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Are You Ready For Race Season?

Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

As winter becomes a distant memory and spring arrives with a bang - you can look back and reflect on the dozens of intervals, hours of gym workouts, and mental preparation you've devoted to the dark winter months. Race season is here! 

Whether you've been racing for several weeks (or months!) or just getting started, below is a checklist of important things to do before you toe to the line.  

1. Clean your bike. My husband told me when he ran the USA Cycling Junior National team showing up to a race with a dirty bike, especially when traveling abroad, was forbidden. 

Think about it - you're about to push your limits on your equipment (and in their case, representing the United States; and in your case, representing your sponsors) - whether that be cornering, descending, climbing, etc. You want to ensure your bike is in excellent working condition and by cleaning it you may stave off disaster before it strikes. A thorough inspection could reveal a worn out tire, rubbing brake, mis-firing shifter, loose headset, etc. While you may not know how to fix everything you encounter, being aware of any problem and then taking your bike to a mechanic can you save you a lot of time, money, not to mention skin. 

But how do I wash my bike? Good question! Here's a good place to start. 

And while you're at it - don't forget to charge your DI2!

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Join our ALP Cycles Coaching community. 3 Coaches and 2 Coaching levels to choose from. We ride with our athletes, spend quality time with each athlete (in person, on the phone, over email), and really take the care needed to develop each person into the best cyclist they can be. 

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2. Pack your race bag. It's nice to know that everything you could need is packed and good to go the night before you race. Early mornings make it challenging to make sure you grab everything. And even though you're likely to forget something at some point, the list below should help you eliminate any last minute scrambles. 

Race Bag:

  • Helmet
  • Jersey and Shorts or Skinsuit (used for time trials, crits and track)
  • Socks
  • Cycling shoes
  • Base layer
  • Arm warmers 
  • Leg warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • A trainer or rollers
  • Embrocation
  • Heart rate monitor 
  • Garmin
  • Lube
  • Spare tubes
  • Pump
  • Water bottles
  • Nutrition
  • Allen key
  • Safety pins
  • Sunscreen
  • Recovery drink

Once you get back home from the race, un-pin your number from your jersey, throw it in the wash and then once clean and dry, put your race jersey, shorts and/or skin suit back in your bag.

3. Create a race plan. "Failing to plan is a plan to fail." 

Whether you're showing up at a local race, nationals or world championships - you should have a plan. Talk to your coach about coming up with an appropriate race strategy.  Race plans could include being the first person into a technical section, positioning yourself in the final few laps of a race, going for a breakaway, etc. Have a plan, stick to it and enjoy the process. If that plan doesn't work, then reflect on why and what you could do better next time. Every single race is an opportunity to be better - write down what worked and what didn't so you can learn from it. 

Got any tips you'd like to share on being prepared for a race? Please leave them in the comments below. 

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