Cycling, TOOLBOX | 7 comments
Coaches corner – Edmonton Cycling
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Tune up and start slowly after a long winter off the roads
It’s been a long winter, the sun is out, and your thoughts turn to cycling with your buddies (you don’t want to be embarrassed about your performance), maybe a summer cycling adventure you have been planning, or maybe that century ride “personal best”.
Spring is here, I’m ready… are you?
An early start to the season is every cyclist’s dream. After long months spent out of the saddle, or in the basement on your rollers, enthusiasm often overcomes common sense. Spring cycling isn’t about racking up the miles on your bike. Instead, spend the time getting back your feel for riding… and I am not talking about professional cyclists, but rather about veterans (guys over 40!) or recreational cyclists, who use bike as an exercise to stay healthy.
It’s Spring – Time to Get Back into Shape
Spring signals the time of year in which both cyclist and motorist have to relearn how to share the road. Motorists have fallen out of the habit of looking for cyclists at intersections and stop signs, so proceed with caution. Breezing through a stop sign is always risky, but even more so this early in the season.
Snow is still on the ground, but the roads are dry.
Then, of course, there’s the shape of the roads at this time of year. Potholes big enough to swallow your bike whole and a buildup of sand, dirt and debris along the side of the road can make a leisurely cycle a dangerous slalom. Add to these hazards the occasional ice patch, a sure thing on mornings that follow a mild day and a cold night, and you can understand why spring cycling has its own set of challenges.
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Performance – That’s the name of the game
I would recommend checking out your favorite route(s) by car before heading out on the bike. Lots of bike paths and rural roads might still be snow- and ice-covered, so don’t assume that just because your street is clear, the snow has melted everywhere. It’s also wise to delay your morning ride until the sun has had time to thaw any ice that lurks along the side of the road. That’s why I am never going to understand my fellow cyclists in Edmonton who begin their riding at 9 AM even in March and April. It’s still very cold at that time and one hour delay can make big difference in temperatures.
One advantage of an early spring ride: traffic is no issue
Those large fluctuations in temperature can keep a cyclist guessing when it comes to choosing the right wardrobe. Lots of layers is the answer, including essentials like gloves, booties and a cap for under your helmet. As always, make sure your clothing is bright and easily seen. When it comes to cycling, there is no such thing as too gaudy.
Set of winter clothing – If you live in Alberta, get all of it!
If you’re hauling your bike out of the garage for the first time, give it a quick tune-up to make sure it’s roadworthy. Pump up the tires, clean and oil your chain and check the brakes. Spending those extra few minutes checking out your equipment can spare you an unexpected walk home.
Make sure you choose the right wardrobe: wear lots of layers!
When you do get on the bike, rein in that early-season eagerness to prove you haven’t lost anything over the winter months. Limit your mileage and don’t push too high a gear. Go easy, and all you’ll feel the next morning are a few muscles you haven’t worked in a while. Go too hard and don’t be surprised if your neck and back feel the effects.
This is what’s waiting for you outdoors.
This advice holds true even for those who have been diligently working out all winter. Riding on the road is very different from riding indoors, so don’t be fooled into thinking that spinning can replace the real thing. There are no vibrations, bumps or potholes indoors. It’s normal for your butt to be sore after those first few rides. You might also feel it in your hands, so padded gloves are an asset early in the season.
My advice is to concentrate on building an aerobic base by slowly increasing mileage and your cycling fitness. That means leaving the sprints and hill repeats until you’ve accumulated lots of easy miles.
Rural roads in Strathcona County are safe with low traffic volume
With warmer weather on the way, here’s an easy 8-point checklist to get you off on the right pedal.
Before you head out for spring cycling, take a few minutes to clean your bike and get yourself organized with a goal—and maybe even a coach. With spring here, we can look forward to more daylight (and maybe a new pair of sunglasses), nicer weather, and better, safer road conditions. In other words: primo bike weather. Which means, if you’re not an all-weather rider, it’s time to drag your two-wheeler up from the basement or haul it off of its wall mount, and actually ride it again.
Clean your bike using a damp cloth
But before you do, it’s a good idea to get your bike—and yourself—road-ready. Here’s a simple checklist that will help, courtesy of Bicycling magazine:
• Quick-clean your bike using a damp cloth. Remove the layer of dust and grime from the frame, rims, derailleurs, brakes, handlebars… okay, just clean everything. Do the chain and chain rings with an old toothbrush and soapy water or a degreaser.
This is how I clean my chain.
• Inspect the tires by deflating the tube to about half its pressure. While rotating the wheel, slowly manipulate each tire in your hands to expose cuts in the sidewalls or tread. If you find any deep cuts, replace the tire. If the tires look fine, inflate them to the recommended PSI (it’s listed on the sidewall).
• Check the indicator line on the brake pads to see if they need to be replaced. If they’re worn down, head to the local bike shop for new ones.
• Take two minutes to remove the seatpost from the frame. It can bond to it permanently unless you do this on occasion (it happened to me and it was embarrassing). Wipe the seatpost clean, and then smear a little grease on the part that fits into the frame.
• Spin the wheels to see if they’re running crooked. If you see any wobbling, or hear strange rattles or clinks, make an appointment to take the wheel to the bike shop. (Go midweek; weekends are busy this time of year.)
Inspect tires, brakes… wipe the seatpost clean and you’ll have a worry free ride.
To ride at your best, you will need a training program – one that sets reasonable goals and will keep you focused. You want to maximize the results of your efforts (and time available to train) but not go out so hard or fast that you end up injured. I have one simle rule that I always try to keep: never, ever go slower than 30 km/h. Sounds easy, but it’s not!
During the training ride try to maintain speed of over 30 km/h – at all times!
Here are a few tips for successful training:
1. Before you get into serious training, have at least a few hundred long easy miles under your belt as a good base.
2. Increases total weekly miles by 10 – 15% per week. The 10 to 15% figure has been used for years by marathons runners to minimizes musculoskeletal injuries with training.
3. Once you begin your actual training program, it’s important to try to ride at least 5 days a week, and take at least one day off. Depending on your level of training (or evidence of overtraining) the seventh day is either an additional intermediate mileage day or an additional rest day.
The most important thing in training is: consistency!
A typical weekly program would look like this:
• ONE long mileage day – The ride which is your goal is the basis for planning your weekly long mileage days. Some coaches suggest you work up to a ride equal to the length (or even 125% of the length) of that event while others feel that reaching a distance equal to 75% of the event distance is adequate. This is usually a Saturday ride (with Sunday as a backup for bad weather or other unexpected circumstance that could derail your training program).
• ONE short mileage day – Plan your short mileage day to follow the high mileage day. It should be about 1/4 of the length of the long ride and ridden at a leisurely pace to loosen up your muscles after the long ride of the week.
• THREE intermediate mileage days – The intermediate mileage days are midway between the short ride and the long ride in distance. At least one of these should be an interval training ride.
• ONE or two rest days off the bike
4. The pace of your training rides:
• the long ride should match your own goal ride pace
• the short “recovery” ride should be a leisurely pace at no more than 50-60% of your maximum heart rate
• two of the intermediate rides should be at the planned goal ride pace
• one of the intermediate rides, preferably prior to your day off the bike, should be at a brisk pace 5 – 10 km/h faster than your planned goal ride pace.
I always take a speed of 30 km/h as my goal and a measurement of hard work, during my rides. Why you ask? Well because at this speed, it always takes 2 minutes for each kilometer of my ride. So, it is easy to calculate my average speed at any time during my ride, and make instant corrections if required. For example, one look at my bike-computer tells me that after 20 minutes riding, I should have covered 10 km of the ride. After 30 minutes 15 km, etc. you get the idea. If I’m behind this goal, I know I am doing a slow ride. Besides, this speed is perfect for my age group: not slow, but not too fast.
5. You can estimate the length of your training program by taking the long ride from your base training period, increasing it by 10% to 15% a week, and repeating this until you arrive at a figure that is at least 75% of the length of the event for which you are training.
6. Remember to be flexible and adjust your program to your lifestyle. A rigid program is destined to fail.
7. A good nutrition program is an important part of preseason training. Carbohydrates are the key to optimizing your personal performance. If you are planning to trim off a few pounds while training, cutting back on total Calories risks poor performance and the psychological impact of feeling you are not going to be at or beyond last years level. So if you are trying to shed the pounds, be prepared to deal with the fatigue that will surely occur on those longer rides. Suggestions for nutrition for six specific types of rides are summarized on the web site Cycling Performance Tips.
I’m ready for the spring rides; are you?
Keep these tips in mind as you plan your training program and it should be a successful riding season! Hope to see you somewhere on the road in Strathcona County this spring! And don’t forget to say ‘Hi’ to an old guy on the bike dressed all in blue colors (I love blue)!
Tags: Coaching staff