by Dr. Matt Miller (a.k.a. MTB PHD)
Yeah, right…”Free Speed.” Believe it or not, it’s out there for the taking and this is not an infomercial. Any endurance athlete obviously has to have the physical capabilities and engine to perform their sport. But there are ways to get faster without improving our fitness. In a very skill dependent sport such as off-road cycling (mountain bike, cyclocross, and even gravel to some extent), this is even more evident. One of the most important skills in these disciplines is effectively applying (or not) your brakes, but can we measure something like this? Thanks to Dr. Matt and his amazing team, now we can!
Will you be happy with your future self?
Picture this…you just rolled back into your driveway from a multi-hour winter base training ride. It’s cold, you’re cold, you’re tired and hungry, and you just want to get out of your cycling clothes and get some good food and warm up. You glance at your bike as you park it in your stable and see it’s a mess. “It’s OK,” you think, “I’ll clean that later.” And then you get busy or just conveniently forget until…the next time you go for a ride and it’s a mess or worse and not even rideable. So you just lube the chain and deal with the extra wear and tear, until that next time. And the cycle repeats.
As we reach mid-February, some athletes have been in their non-competitive, non-event, or “shoulder” season for several months. Others who raced a full ‘cross calendar may feel like they have just shut it down. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, hopefully you’ve taken some time to dial it back, get off the bike a bit, enjoy other outdoor activities, and then start getting ready for next season.
During this time, many coaches and athletes will include strategically placed higher intensity workouts on the schedule. Strategic and deliberate with purpose. Over the past five or six years, there’s been a new way to include intensity all year round.
Like it or not, Virtual Racing, or E-Racing is here, and quite likely here to stay. There’s even National Championships, Professional Zwift Racing Teams, and some real money behind the competitions.
Virtual races can really be a lot of fun. I’ve participated in a good handful, and may
A Simple Tip to Keep Your Feet Warm
“Once my hands and feet go, it’s all over,” said every other athlete that I’ve worked with and lives in a place that gets a “cold” winter. Here’s a little hack to keep in mind, or to pass on to others and save your ride.
I’ve been riding with winter mountain bike shoes since around 2000, and I highly recommend this as serious consideration your winter cycling footwear. Mine are particularly warm, have great grippy soles if I need to hike or warm up with a coffee, and I don’t have to struggle with booties/shoe covers. However, booties are the next best thing, in my opinion. I’ve logged thousands of miles with booties for sure. And booties with winter boots...single digits! I also have a whole drawer full of Seal Skinz socks (thanks, Seal Skinz!) that are primarily made to be waterproof, but that also makes them windproof and warm.
Over the past 6-7 years, more and more athletes that I work use a smart trainer for their indoor cycling, and some of the new athletes that sign on to work with me only have experience with a smart trainer and ERG mode on for indoor workouts.
So is this a good thing or bad thing or is it neutral? Like most things, this is not a binary decision of “good” or “bad”, but a continuum. My initial thought was that there’s more bad than good, but I wanted to find out more.
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.