Why racing makes you appreciate cycling more. and more. and more.

Racing a bicycle is always a challenging experience and it is not for everyone, but I encourage every cyclist to at least try a bike race at one time or the other. There are lots of options from racing on gravel bikes, to road races to cyclo-cross, mountain bike and track racing. All have their own specific demands and needs, and I suggest you find a race that is local to you, and you have the bike for it! For example, if there is a local cyclo-cross race coming up next month and you already have a gravel bike, then jump in there! You have 4 goals in finishing a bike race: 1) Learn the overall experience of preparing for the event, proper nutrition, warming-up and racing. 2) Make a new friend. Meet someone there and introduce yourself. Friend them on social media. Stay in touch. 3) Push yourself! Go for it! It’s important to push your limits on a regular basis and keep life interesting. Suffer a bit. Feel the desire to quit and don’t. 4) Bask in the accomplishment of racing your bike and doing something new and keeping life interesting. It doesn’t matter what place you get, just enjoy the feeling of racing hard and pushing it.

I started racing bicycles when I was 11 (now 53) and I raced constantly from 11 till I was 27, when I retired from Pro racing. Since then, I have raced here and there for kicks and grins and to remind myself of the things I have forgotten! All those above goals I mentioned are why I race now. While highly competitive, I have long ago let go of the need to win every race, understand/know the limits of my current FTP and also know what it takes to win. I am happy to just enjoy some good overall fitness and go racing whenever I want to and still be competitive in the 50+ age group. And yes, during the race, I wanted to quit. I didn’t.

Here’s the FRC of my CX race this past weekend. Very interesting to see a CX race!
My daughter, Susannah Allen, freshman on the UVA Cycling Team raced in her first CX race and placed 3rd in the Women’s 4/5 race! Yes, it was proper CX cold weather!

The “Power” of Intention.

What does ‘intention’ bring to the game?   Intention is something often talked about in the martial arts world and not so much in the endurance sports world.   Intention is A: a course of action that one intends to follow. B. the state of one’s mind at the time one carries out an action. C: a determination to act in a certain way.  Your intention about your race or event has a lot to do with the outcome of the race/event, how you determine your happiness with that outcome and also the experience of the race itself.    What the heck does intention have to do with training or racing with a power meter?  Well, training and racing with a power meter by definition implies intention.  You have made a conscious decision that you want to improve and investing in a power meter has become the outward expression of that intention.  Not to say that those folks without a power meter don’t also want to improve, but maybe their intention isn’t as strong as yours.  Without a strong intention, the intensity of the riding is very different.

                How do “intention” and “intensity” relate exactly?  We know that the ‘intensity’ of your workout or the ‘intensity’ at which you do your intervals determines the specific type of training response that your body gives you, ala the “dose and response” effect.   If you do intervals at 120% of your FTP, then at that intensity you are training your power at Vo2 Max. Do enough of them and your power at Vo2 Max will increase.   There is a metric inside the TrainingPeaks WKO+ software called “Intensity Factor” that Dr. Andrew R. Coggan created in order to define the relative intensity of a ride or a specific time period within a ride as it relates to your FTP.  Intensity is an essential part of training and adapting to becoming a stronger rider and without the intensity in your workout, you won’t continue to improve.   When we think about ‘intention’ in relationship with ‘intensity’ to each other, it is the ‘intentionality’ that we bring to the workout which imparts the necessary intensity to each interval, workout, ride or race.   When we ‘intend’ to win a race, then we race with a much higher intensity than if we only ‘intend’ to ride a race for training and sit in the field. When we intend to go out for a cyclo-cross workout in order to improve so that we can have a chance at winning the next race, then that workout will be a very intense workout with lots of hard threshold intervals, anaerobic capacity efforts and maybe even a few hard sprints.   This intention that we bring to the workout defines the needed intensity and the important thing you need to know is at which intensity to ride in order to create the training response you want.

                Let’s examine some workouts done with intention and some without so that you can better understand the difference between the two.  In the Figure 1, we see a ride in which the athlete went out and ‘just rode’.  She didn’t ride very hard nor super easy, but just rode at whatever pace she felt like.  When she returned, she even commented in her notes that she didn’t feel much like riding and her legs were just spinning around.    Then let’s examine Figure 2.  In Figure 2, she had a workout goal of 2 x 20 minutes at FTP in an hour ride.   Clearly, you can see how focused she was and she even got on the indoor trainer to do this workout, so she could focus on the workout.   In her workout notes she wrote that she felt clearly better when she was focused on the workout and worked on engaging her core.  Bringing intention to the workout brings about body awareness and that will make a difference to your cycling, just like it did in this case.  

What about bringing intention to a race?  How do intention and intensity interrelate in racing situations and what do power files from each look like?  Just the act of participating in a race means that you are bringing intention into your reality.  Because you have chosen to join the race, you have made a conscious decision about becoming a part of the race and that will impart your intensity.  The difference between ‘intentions’ for racing and training have more to do with the strength and desire of your intention which governs your intensity.  If your desire to win the race is very strong, then it’s more likely you will stay more focused than the riders around you, continually watching the terrain, the tactics that other teams employ and your own race strategy. Sometimes your desire is too strong and you want to win so bad that you chase down every attack that goes until you finally get worn out and then that’s when the winning attack goes away. Sometimes, balancing your desire to win with the natural rhythm of the race becomes more important than the actual intensity you bring to the race.  Other times, your race desire isn’t very high and you are just ‘going through the motions’ , which means that your intensity will most likely be low.  Another case might be that your intention in the race is dictated to you by your teammates or team director.  In this case, your intensity is governed by an external intention to your own free will and choice (of course you are a willing partner to this or otherwise you won’t be on the team).   As we examine Figure 3 below, we see a race from a rider that didn’t really have a plan in the race and the resulting intensity in the race was rather random and his finish was also mediocre.

                After reviewing the above race done without much intention, a race done with a focused intention appears very differently in a power file analysis.  The race below was done by an athlete that went into the race with a highly specific game plan and intention in mind.  He wanted to get in a breakaway and then once in the breakaway to grind people’s legs down, so that all he would have to do is put in a little attack to drop them and then solo to the finish line.  Wishful thinking for some of us, but for this athlete, he knew the course, knew he had the legs to back up his plan and then just needed to execute it.   One thing you should note about Figure 4 is how the much smoother the power becomes when he is in the breakaway versus in the pack and then how it becomes even smoother still when he is solo off the front and doing his best to get to the line first.  Clearly, the intention in the race is an ever-changing thing, as the best racers use their intention before the race to set their game plan and tactics in the race, but when the race is unfolding, a careful response and appropriate reaction to the dynamics of the race is also required.

A power meter can tell us many things about our training and racing and in post analysis; it’s a useful tool to help teach yourself the importance of training and racing with a goal or purpose in mind.  Goals and purposes are typically very hard, concrete and defined, such as, “I am going to win the race in a field sprint”, or “I will attack on the climb at the finish and solo to the line for the win.”, whereas intention isn’t always a hard and concrete goal.  Intention is more of a determination in how you are going to approach a race or act in a certain race and with highly dynamic bicycle races, is often the better way to think about a race or training ride. Intend to do your best, play out your strategy, all the while being willing to change on the fly to adapt to the ever-changing tactics employed by your competitors.   When you train with your power meter, intend to train in specific training zones, work on specific weaknesses and use that intention to improve which will help you better regulate your training intensity.  On the flip side, I am also a big believer in going out and just riding your bike (which is an intention as well), and not having a strong intention on some days does not mean you are not competitive or do not want to win nor does it mean you will not have fun.  Quite the opposite on some of those days and days of weak intention can end up being your best days on the bike.  Finally, remind yourself occasionally that it is bike racing and not every day is going to be perfect, nor will you be on form for each race.  As former USA Cycling’s Coaching Coordinator Sam Callan said to me one time, “Sometimes my level of intensity did not meet my level of intention” which helps to remind us that no matter how hard you want to do something, your body does not always respond the way you want it to.  Intention and intensity are both entangled concepts that when put to proper use consciously can really enhance your fitness and also your success in races and rides.   Start with the right intention and then the success will follow.

Hunter Allen intends in each of his articles to impart some knowledge to the reader about power training. He is the co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and is the CEO and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group. Along with creating custom coaching solutions for all levels of athletes and designed with winning intentions, he has online training programs available at www.shoppeaks.com  and you can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com

Packing for CX.

By: Elite Coach Christian Sheridan

If you watched any of the first three rounds of the USCX series over the past few weekends, you will have seen the extremes of cyclocross conditions.  The opening weekend in Roanoke, VA was hot, dry, dusty, and fast.  The pros were wearing light weight skinsuits, running file tread tires, and carrying a bottle on the bike.  Two weeks later, the races at Charm City in Baltimore were run in the rain of a literal hurricane.  Long sleeves, mud tires and the longest shoe spikes you can get your hands on were in order.

To race cyclocross all you really need is a bike with some knobbier tires, no bar ends, and a desire on your part to have some fun in the dirt, but as the description of the changeable conditions over the past few weekends suggests, to race cross seriously, you need to channel your inner scout and Be Prepared.  Some of the items I always make sure I have with me when racing cross include:

  • Knee, leg, and arm warmers.  Even if you only wear them for warm up, you’ll be happier on cold days.  On really cold days, I like to start warming up wearing a pair of zip-off warm up pants that I can pull off over my shoes at the line.
  • An extra jersey and base layer.  Especially if you need to wait at the line or between races after your warmup and your own start, there’s nothing worse than standing around in a wet, cold kit.
  • Toe spikes.  You don’t need a whole assortment of every length, but I try to have at least some short, soccer-style cleats, and a longer pair.
  • If you’ve got them, extra shoes.  I always hang on to an old pair when I replace my shoes and keep the old ones as backups.
  • Extra clothes, especially socks for after the race.
  • A good floor pump or inflator and accurate pressure gauge to get your pressure dialed in.
  • If you’re traveling or racing more than once in a weekend, a spare derailleur hanger (and the tools and know how to change it) for your bike will keep you racing if you mangle yours in a crash.

Do you need all this to race cross? Certainly not, but you will have a better time and give yourself a greater chance of success if you’re prepared for everything cross can throw at you.

Christian Sheridan is a Level 2 USAC cycling coach, a professor at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and a father of one. He has coached athletes at all levels and has helped several athletes upgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 2. Christian can be contacted through info@peakscoachinggroup.com or www.peakscoachinggroup.com.

Recovery tools that the Pros use!  – By Hunter Allen

There are three things that I recommend for recovery to the athletes that I coach and to our athletes here at Peaks Coaching Group.   These are critical to enhancing your recovery.   Everyone talks about recovery, but no one really understands just how extremely important this is.  So many of us watch the Tour de France on TV and can’t imagine how those riders can recover day in and day out for 21 days.  Racing over mountains, riding in breakaways and giving their all every day for a chance at glory seems impossible and it would be impossible if they didn’t spend the entire REST of their day focused on recovering.  Right after the stage it begins: Cool-down on the trainer, recovery shake, shower, massage, nap, food, more food, and more sleep. Pro cyclists do nothing extra.  They don’t carry their luggage down the stairs, heck they don’t take the stairs!

Since the rest of us can’t spend our remaining parts of our lives focusing on lying around and watching TV, we need some simpler tools that take less time for us to use and make a difference in our recovery. I have found 3 things that can make a big difference!

#1 Compression boots

If you don’t have a massage therapist on staff, then these are the next best things. Put them on your legs, turn the TV on and enjoy the gentle squeezing and releasing of the legs that simulates a massage.  I usually do this for at least 30 minutes and most times for 45 minutes.  It feels good, helps to flush out the muscles squeezing them to push the blood out and then releasing them to allow new blood to rush in and enhance recovery.  The next day my legs feel lighter, more supple, and consequently ready for the next tough workout.   Speedhound makes some great recovery boots that I use and have been super pleased with.  They are simple to operate, work super well and I like how you can micro-adjust the pressure of the boots on your legs.   They just work.

#2- Percussion gun

Relatively new as a recovery tool, these have multiple different types of heads to use on various parts of the body.  What does a percussion gun do exactly?  Basically, it is a massager, with deep oscillation, and different speeds that you can adjust for different muscles and how sore you are!  The head moves back and forth and lightly “punches” you to give you a massage.  Moving the gun over your legs, arms, neck, and even lower back allows you to give yourself a nice massage without exerting additional energy!  And this is the magic of a percussion gun really!  When you give yourself a “self-massage”, you have to exert energy to help you recover which sometimes seems like a “net zero” effort.   However, with a percussion gun, the gun does the work!   Just charge the baby up, turn it on and let it do its work.  

This is outstanding!  Again, SpeedHound comes to the rescue with their Pro Percussion Gun.  It has 6 different heads; the battery lasts for 5 hours and even comes with a 2-year warranty.  Not only that, but it’s half the price of other percussion guns out on the market.   I love mine and don’t even think about taking it away from me!

#3- deltaG Ketone Esters

This should be another tool in your recovery arsenal.  Ketone esters have been shown in three research studies to enhance recovery in three ways:

  • Increase sugar uptake, blood insulin secretion, and glycogen resynthesis in recovery.
  • Improved mTORC1 signaling, which controls protein synthesis, in recovery after a workout when ingested with carbs and protein. 
  • Prevention of overtraining symptoms as well as helping professional athletes enhance performance throughout 3 full weeks when used during athletic recovery.

What’s important to understand is that you take the Ketone Esters WITH carbohydrates.  There is a misconception out there that ingesting ketone esters is the same as cutting carbohydrates out of your diet. It is not!  Adding ketone esters in, when also ingesting carbs is what makes the difference helping glycogen synthesis.

The results show that when ketone esters are combined with sugar, they improve insulin secretion, sugar uptake, and glycogen synthesis when ingested with protein. The sugar also activates mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) which targets and improves leucine-mediated protein synthesis. In conditions where your recuperation period needs to be fast, ketone esters, as well as glucose administration, might offer a better possibility to ensure that glycogen is renewed in a shorter amount of time before using up energy during your next physical activity. Without ketone esters, glycogen would be restored to baseline levels in 24 hours.

I use and recommend the DeltaG ketone esters.  These are the original ketone esters developed and invented by Dr. Kieren Clarke and are outstanding in every way. 

So, there you have it.  Three real world things that you can do both inside and outside your body to enhance your recovery.  These things aren’t that costly, don’t require a team of nutritionists or massage therapists to be on call and can be easily implemented right after our workouts and then during downtime in front of the TV relaxing on the couch.   

Hunter Allen is a is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of “Triathlon Training With Power”, “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” and “Cutting-Edge Cycling,” co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes.

How to use a power meter to your advantage in CycloCross- By Hunter Allen

Looking at anything besides the course right in front of you is nearly impossible in a cyclocross race as the intensity in a cyclocross race and technical demands of cycling force you to be present each moment. Riding and racing “in the zone” is something that many of us strive for in every race as it’s an incredible feeling along with a confirmation that you are doing your very best.  This focus means that it’s highly doubtful you’ll get more than a ½ second glance at your power meter head unit when racing, so unless you have a heads-up display, watching your power meter during a CX race will be next to impossible and most likely undesirable as watching for that next tree root takes priority. In training though, it is likely that you will be able to train using your power meter to focus on specific intervals.  Specificity is one of the keys of success in training for any cycling discipline.  Each cycling discipline has unique demands and riding for 5 hours over mountain passes climbing with a very steady wattage output is nearly the complete opposite of the demands of a CX race. 

When you examine your power file from a ’cross race, one of the first things you might notice is that it looks a lot like some of those criteriums you did earlier in the year: loads of power spikes, easily discernible laps and big “race winning” type efforts are all commonalities to criteriums. A cyclocross power file will define the power bursts needed in the race, reveal the amount of rest in each lap and show the overall training stress accumulated in the race. One thing that’s important to identify in a cyclocross power file is the number of efforts you have above your FTP and how long each of these efforts last and the height of each peak of wattage.  In figure 1, we discover that he had to ride over his threshold power 29 different times in the race, but many of these times were so close together that in reality it was more like 18 separate efforts each ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes with short recoveries between each.   This means that any rider doing this race will need to do a minimum of 18 efforts in order to just stay in the race. So….when was the last time you did 18 intervals in your training rides preparing for CX season?

Figure 1

In step 2, I want to see any effort over 110% of threshold power (solidly in the Vo2 Max range and above) for times over 5 seconds and up to 5 minutes.  This will tell me how many highly intense intervals my athlete will need to do in preparation for their event.   As we see in Figure 2, this race contained over 100 different efforts above 110% of the athlete’s FTP and that is pretty significant when you consider this is a CX race!  When was the last time you did over 100 hard bursts/efforts in your training?!   The highly variable nature of this race is what we call a “stochastic” race and this means that the race was so incredibly variable; the power spikes appear to be almost random.   When I see a power file with this much stochasticity, it reminds me how important the ability to quickly change cadence is to be successful as a cyclist and especially as a CX racer. 

Power meter files from ’cross races typically average about 20 to 40 watts below an athlete’s actual FTP, since there’s so much “down time” when the athlete is either coasting down a technical hill, off the bike and running or just experiencing a lack of traction. This does not mean you will be below your threshold heart rate though!  Plan on riding with your heart rate pegged at your threshold number.  The difficulty of putting the power to the ground skews the power numbers down, so don’t let those lower than FTP numbers fool you into thinking your FTP has dropped or you could have ridden harder. Because of these running and technical coasting sections, it’s hard to determine the exact muscular demands of cyclocross, but if you use a tool called Quadrant Analysis, then you can better understand those demands. When viewed in a Quadrant Analysis plot, which breaks down a ride based on time spent with different force outputs and cadences, a ’cross race contains the largest amount of amount of the effort in Quadrant II, which represents slow pedaling and higher force, but Quadrant III (slow pedaling, low force) and Quadrant IV (fast pedaling and low force) are also represented.   This changes the demands of the event dramatically as compared to a criterium.  A Criterium will have just as many bursts and efforts over FTP, but done in Quadrant IV, which is lower force and a higher cadence (easier gear, over 90rpm) is used in order to stay on the wheels and quickly accelerate out of the turns.    The result of this analysis means that you need to do a lot of “bursts” over your FTP and done with higher force and lower cadence (bigger gear, under 90rpm), to best simulate a CX race.

           After reviewing hundreds of cyclocross race and training power files, I have determined that a specific training workout good for cyclocross is one that I call the “30-30-30” workout; it’s made up of 30 seconds at 150% of FTP, 30 seconds coasting (0% of FTP) and 30 seconds of running. The “30-30-30” workout is done continuously for 10 minutes and then a rest is taken for five minutes before doing two to four more sets total.

The “30-30-30” Cyclocross workout

15 minute warm-up, level 2.

(1) – 5 minute hard effort at 110% of FTP to “open up the legs” and make sure you are ready for the intervals.

5 minutes easy- Level 2, preparing yourself mentally for the coming intervals.

3 x 10 minutes —  “30- 30 -30”- This means you nearly sprint for 30 seconds. It’s RIDING hard at a cadence under 90rpm, followed by 30 seconds coasting and not pedaling, followed by a dismount and 30 seconds of running fast…. REPEAT.

5 minutes Level 2 recovering after each of the “30-30-30” block of efforts at a cadence of 90rpm+.

4 x 2 minutes- at 150% of FTP. Anaerobic Capacity work-  This is done to further fatigue you and create training stress that is similar to what you will experience in a CX race.  Again, simulate the cadence you will see in a CX race, so ride under 90rpm.

REST 2 minutes after each at 90+ rpm and at your Level 2 wattage.

After the set of 2 minute efforts, ride for 10 minutes Level 2 at 90+ rpm.

Finish with 10 x 1minute FAST PEDALING at 110rpm+. 1 minute on, 1 minute off at 80rpm.    This is done to make sure you can quickly and easily change leg speed/cadences during your race. Don’t worry about high wattages here, it’s more important to focus on your cadence.

15 minutes cool-down at Level 1 and Level 2 wattages with your preferred cadence.

One of the most important reasons to use a power meter is in training for the demands of the event, and this reason is highly applicable in the case of cyclocross. Addressing the specific needs for a strong anaerobic capacity along with highly-tuned technical skills (dismount the bike, run with the bike and remount) creates a perfect blend of a workout in the “30-30-30,”. Along with this anaerobic capacity workout, cyclocross demands a strong FTP, so the traditional Level 4 threshold workouts done at 4 x 10, 3 x15, and 2 x 20 minutes at FTP are important for the successful ’cross racer.

Cyclocross is another discipline within cycling where using a power meter in order to train more quantitatively and also more specifically to the demands of the sport allows racers to improve their performances. A key component of this improvement hinges on the ability of the athlete to mimic the demands of upcoming ’cross races and develop training routines for them. As the popularity of cyclocross continues to gain momentum, more and more racers will be using a power meter to collect data, analyze the demands of the events and then train for them.

Check out Hunter’s Cyclo-Cross plans!!!!

Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former Professional Cyclist. He is the co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and is the CEO and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group.  You can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com

How Motor-Vehicles are Affecting Road Cyclists’ Way of Riding in a 100-mile Radius of Bedford, Virginia – Shortened Version

By:Susannah Allen

**To read the full report please click here.**

Literature Review 

My research focuses on how motor-vehicles affect the cycling community in a 100-mile radius of Bedford, Virginia. The cycling community has evolved a lot in the past 30 years, from aerodynamics, training, and safety gear. The rise of cycling deaths has sparked the market to produce bright luminescent lights, reflective equipment, helmets, motion sensors, and even technology with bike crash detectors. Cyclists hit with motor-vehicles are at a higher risk of dying, paralysis, or having a severe injury.

The cycling community is trying to find solutions to grow the cycling population while keeping cyclists safe. Cycling is excellent for health, and it is an environmentally friendly way to commute to work or stores; cycling is also an environmentally friendly way to work out. Cycling is a worldwide sport and way of transportation, yet participation has been declining based on the injuries and deaths in the U.S. Other countries such as Denmark and Germany are thriving as some of the best cycling countries. In the U.S, certain cities are the best and safest for cyclists, such as Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Minneapolis, MN; and Portland, OR. These five cities are the best places to go cycling, according to Bicycling magazine (Shilton). The League of American Bicyclists has a list and infographic on the exact things that need to be done to become a bicycle-friendly community (Murphy). Virginia has two laws that help cycling a lot, they were both passed in July 2021. The first new law is that car drivers must change lanes to pass cyclists, and cyclists are allowed to ride two-abreast on the road (Bicycling in Virginia). These laws should help the cycling community in Virginia. Creating a more bicycle-friendly community is an excellent start to improving the cycling communities all over the U.S. 

Based on new equipment, infrastructure plans, and technology, cycling should be getting safer, but studies are seeing the opposite. My research is looking at how this data directly affects cyclists and how big of a negative impact it is making on the cycling community in the 100-mile radius of Bedford, Virginia. Cycling is a sport and way of transportation that should be safe and readily available to anyone. 

Methodology

When collecting the data for my research project, I used a survey with 12 questions, consisting of multiple choice and short answers. The survey was then be broken down in parts and analyzed. I sent this survey to multiple bicycle shops in a 100-mile radius of Bedford, VA. I also posted the survey link to multiple Virginia cycling Facebook pages/groups. I found that posting the survey link on Facebook pages was more effective than the flyer handout at bike shops. I attribute this as a website link on a smartphone is easier to use than a QR code. When making the flyer for the bike shops, I included a summary of my project, why I was doing it, and its importance to me. At the bottom of the flyer, I included a QR code that would take the participants to the survey. I also included my email address if any participants had questions or concerns. After sending the survey out to Facebook pages and bike shops, I got a large amount of feedback. I started the survey on November 21st, 2021, and ended the survey on January 29th, 2022. This two-month period gave me time to get a diverse group of participants from all the areas in the radius. I was able to get a total of 253 responses. However, some of those participants responded with a bike shop out of the 100-mile radius, misinterpreted the question, or were hit by a car (for ethical reasons, no participant could be directly involved in a bike/motor-vehicle crash), so that left me with 108 usable responses from the survey. The participants were located in Lexington, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Blacksburg, Lynchburg, Altavista, Salem, Charlottesville, and Staunton, Virginia. These cities have an abundance of rural and city roads that many cyclists use. 

Analysis

I will assess my findings by analyzing: different biking experiences for men and women, different experiences for country and city road riders, different encounters with vehicles among riders having different amounts of road biking experience, and using a 1 proportion Z-interval test at the 95% confidence interval. My initial finding was that I acquired more surveys by men: 75.9% of the research was based on males, 23.1% were females, and .9% responded with other/prefer not to say. I do not find this shocking as the cycling community is male-dominated. When breaking down the statistics in numbers, there are 25 female cyclists, 82 male cyclists, and one other/prefer not to say. Examining the male cyclists, I found that eight of the 82 do not wear safety gear, and out of those eight cyclists, six have had negative experiences with cars, one even gave up road riding, while the other seven changed how they ride or where they ride, one participant said he had multiple bad experiences, and that is why he gave up riding:

Yes. I gave up road riding. A student at a local high school used to drive by me about the same time I’d ride. He’d buzz very close, trying to push me off the road. Then come back by and do it another couple of times. While yelling profanity. It was not my only negative encounter. And then, when smartphones started proliferating, I finally gave up. Not worth risking someone updating Facebook or texting while driving accidentally kill or paralyze me. (Participant 10)

 The other 74 male participants said they always wear safety gear but have still had many negative encounters and experiences. However, five participants said they wear safety gear and have not had a bad experience. Out of these participants who wear safety gear and have had a bad experience, only ten cyclists still have the same riding habits. The other 64 cyclists have changed their riding by going different places, stopping cycling altogether, riding only mountain bikes, using different riding techniques, or wearing even more protective gear. One cyclist said, “Yes. After several very close calls from distracted drivers and 1 incident of coal rolling I have given up road riding. I need to be alive to raise my kids. I only mountain bike now.” This statement reflects the cyclist’s feelings towards drivers and his experiences cycling. The negative experiences he has had forced him to give up something he enjoyed just so he could stay alive. As I examine the free-response portion of the survey, I am seeing this pattern repeatedly; many cyclists are giving up cycling because of distracted or angry drivers.  

When sorting through the women’s data, I noticed that only three women do not wear safety gear, and all three have had negative experiences with motor-vehicles. Out of 26 women, all of them have had a negative encounter with a motor-vehicle on the road, but two of the cyclists have not changed their riding patterns. At the same time, the other 24 have changed the way they ride, some examples were more defensive riding, riding in groups, or riding during different parts of the day, etc. One woman said that, “I try to avoid rush hour and have asked city officials to continue bike lanes, increase signage, and use social media to support cyclists. I also will avoid certain roads. I ride with three cameras to hopefully have proof of aggressive or distracted motorists if I am ever injured by a motorist while riding.” These overall experiences have matched very closely with the men’s experiences. Both genders have been disrespected and hurt by motor-vehicles. When looking closer at whether having safety gear on is helpful or not, it seems that many cyclists have negative experiences with or without wearing lights and other safety gear. So that brings me to a plausible development that while safety gear does not prevent negative experiences, I believe that it protects the cyclist’s life because none of the people wearing safety gear have ever gotten hit by cars. Some of the negative experiences with motor-vehicles are humans being rude to cyclists, but they were aware of the cyclist. This being said, safety gear does make other drivers aware of cyclist’s existence on the road, which is the point of lights and reflective gear. Many cyclists get hit when they are not visible, so having safety gear on will help catch the attention of drivers and could save your life. Overall, I see the same pattern with cyclists and their negative experiences with motor-vehicles whether the cyclist is a woman or a man. 

Looking further into the questions and responses, I will discuss the differences between city and country road experiences. Thirty-nine of the 108  surveyed cyclists ride on city roads, and the others ride on country roads. Four cyclists said they had never felt endangered while riding on a country road, and four never felt endangered on a city road. The other cyclists that have felt endangered changed their riding patterns. I found a theme where country-riding cyclists started mountain biking or gravel riding after a negative encounter. The city riders have made other changes like adding more lights or riding at different times and/or places. Looking back at the changes of country riding and seeing that gravel riding is becoming a more popular option has also explained why there has been such a boom in gravel cycling. My research shows that in the 100-mile radius around Bedford, Virginia, more cyclists ride on smaller, unmarked roads than those who ride on marked roads. This could be because this area is rural or because cyclists have found that the country’s roads are safer. Country roads are usually traveled far less often by cars, but are much narrower. My research can not prove this hypothesis, but it does show a trend that cyclists in the 100-mile radius prefer country roads. 

The next topic of my research exploration will be determining if the total years of riding correlates with the encounters cyclists have with motor-vehicles. One of the survey questions asks how long the cyclists have been riding, and options include: 1-6, 7-13, 14-20, 21-27, or 28+ years. The data showed that the only cyclists who have never had a negative encounter or felt endangered while riding were cyclists who had only been riding for 1-6 years. Eight cyclists report not having a negative experience with motor-vehicles, and all those cyclists  said they only had 1-6 years of road cycling experience. So my hypothesis that if cyclists have more experience then they will have a greater chance of a negative encounter while road riding was supported. The chart to the right shows the percentages of the cyclists and how many years they have been cycling. Another realization made from this was that many riders who have more than 7+ years of cycling  are transitioning to be gravel cyclists, mountain bikers, or using stationary bikes.

  

I used the 1-proportion Z-interval test to find the interval of cyclists who have changed riding habits because of motor-vehicles. First, I stated that I will find the 95% confidence interval of the true proportion of cyclists who have changed their riding habits because of motor-vehicles. I then checked all conditions to make sure it was reliable data. After I knew my conditions were met I could use the 1-proportion Z-interval test in the Ti-84 Plus CE calculator. I put 87 in for X, 108, in for N, and .95 for the confidence level. This test showed an interval of (.73091 to .8802). So I can conclude that I am 95% confident that the interval from (.73091 to .8802) shows the true proportion of cyclists that have changed their cycling habits because of cars. The p-hat value was .805, and this was found by dividing 87 by 108. 

Conclusion

It seems that many drivers do not respect or care for cyclists, therefore cyclists have been going to different cycling outlets. In relation to my gap, this is exactly what I was trying to find: how motor-vehicles were affecting road cyclists in a 100-mile radius of Bedford, Virginia. The motor-vehicles did have a negative impact on the cyclists in the 100-mile radius of Bedford,Virginia. They have made many cyclists stop riding, change riding habits, or start mountain biking/gravel riding. The results from this research will be used to advocate for cyclist safety and help cyclists stay safe on the roads, particularly in the area that I studied.  I plan to share the results with all the local bicycle shops I used, and the different Facebook pages. I also plan to advocate for cyclist safety in my community. Cycling is a sport and way of transportation that should be accessible and safe to all. 

I also examined the responses that I could not use, and I think it is important to value these responses even if they did not go into the final research. I found that 17 out of the 253 participants have been directly hit by a car. This means that 6% of the cyclists I surveyed have been hit by a car, which is alarming when dealing with life or death situations. All of those responses said they changed how they ride and some have stopped riding altogether. 

Charts

Welcome Elite Coach Bryan McKinney!

Why and when did you start cycling?

I started cycling after I finished university, my dad had purchased a new bike on the cycle 2 work scheme which looked kinda cool. I also needed to lose weight from time spent partying at university so I took to the bike. Cycling has been in our family for years, I just never took to it and played a load of other sports. My dad was Northern Ireland Road Race Champion so when I started I had all the support you could wish for.

Why did you become a cycling coach?

I had aspirations to become a full-time professional cyclist once I got myself a coach and progressed to Cat 1 in a few years. Unfortunately, I had a few issues with my lower back and a numb leg. This I couldn’t shake and it put me off the bike. I said to my coach at the time that when I finished the bike I wanted to coach, I had a science background and loved to learn about all the metrics and get into the detail of all things training, nutrition and tactics.

I had learned a lot from my coach and when off the bike I really went into everything I could find regarding sports performance and the methodology of training principles. I love working with people and enjoy helping them on their journey to reach their goals, I get a lot out of that.

What is your coaching focus?

My focus is on the individual, I want to learn as much about their life as possible and test their metrics before embarking on a plan. It’s important to know as much as possible when starting with a new athlete so that you can gauge where to start their plan. We always want to have progressive overload with any plan and starting too hard or with too much volume will be counterproductive in the long term.

I have a focus on the Long Term Athlete Development of the individual, these things take time and need to be carried out in a particular way to get the best results from each unique person. 

I work with all the metrics and charts known to man, however, I put a great amount of emphasis on the input from the athlete. We can train the machine but we also need to work with the person driving the machine so I like to get as much information from them as I can. The coach-athlete relationship is super important to me.

What is your favorite food?

This is an ever-evolving answer, it really does change quite a bit. I wouldn’t have a favorite food per se, as it depends on how I feel or the time of year.

If I had to say one thing…I love Burritos.

Aside from cycling, What do you do in your spare time?

I’ve recently had a son that is keeping me busy and has given me a new perspective on life as well as on training with a family. I am starting to learn how to swim better with the goal of completing an Ironman. I coach triathletes and have never completed one so I feel like I should give that a go.

My partner Jen and I love to go on walks with our Dog Eva. We travel about in our camper van and go sailing with some friends when we have the time. We spend a lot of time at the beach or in the forest and up mountains. I also love to do DIY, anything wood or metal I like working with and currently I’m building a new metal frame master bed. I’ve also gotten into sewing which is a bit random but it’s good fun to make some new clothes out of old ones

The Maximum and the Minimum.   A contrast in focus between training and racing.

I have written many times about the relationship between training and racing, training for the demands of the event, conserving energy in your races, optimizing your training volume and how to use your powermeter effectively in racing.   All of these articles have focused on improving in one way or the other, and that’s because that’s the name of the game, right?  No one wants to stagnate or heaven forbid, get worse!  So, when one of my clients, James Kramer, made the observation that his first races of the year were so different than all of his hard training done this past winter, I was curious to what he meant.  Of course, I had him training specifically for his first races, tracking his CTL ramp rate, making sure he was on target for his first peak of the season and definitely giving him plenty of hard workouts.  James explained, “Hunter, that race was easy. I mean, I am not even really tired after it. My training has been much harder than the racing so far and I even feel like I am losing fitness going to these races because they aren’t that hard.” Of course, this is music to my ears as his coach and I know when an athlete tells me this, he’s going to be on the podium soon enough.  This also means he adhered to my coaching/training philosophy of training harder than the competition, doing ‘intervals to exhaustion’ and pushing himself to the max fairly regularly. James expanded on this first comment and said, “In races, it’s all about conservation, holding back, saving yourself for the right move or final sprint and that’s very different than in training, where you have me killing myself in nearly every interval and there are hard rides after hard rides every week.”   This great insight and awareness is something that many of us reach when we begin racing and winning.

What it means to do the Minimum to Win.

It is this incredible contrast between doing every interval and every workout to your personal maximum, exhausting yourself daily in order to improve, but in racing making sure you are smart and expending effort only when you need to so that you can win. I remember a particular pro racer back in my old pro days in the mid-90’s and this guy was a ‘horse’,  I mean, he would attack you until you gave up or he would just grind your legs into little stumps with his hard pulls in the breakaway.  Often times, he attacked so many times or rode so hard in the breakaway that he dropped himself and would say afterwards, “wow, you guys are so strong.. you just dropped me..”.  We definitely weren’t going to tell him that he was riding too hard or attacking too much!  It really came down to the fact that he thought the only honorable way to win a bike race was to be solo off the front and just prove to everyone that he was the strongest(he should have quit road cycling and taken up Mt. Biking!).   Naturally, his tactics didn’t work well, as there is this thing in bike racing called the ‘peloton’ and its collective energy can run down just about any single racer if they want to.  Unfortunately for him, he never got it through his thick skull that you had to be strong and smart to win bike races and it really is “chess on wheels”.   He didn’t know how to conserve, how to save his energy, how to race with the minimum needed effort in order to be a winner and that prevented him from ever living up to his potential.

How does this relate to training with power? 

Well, let’s take my client, James.   James is sharp, he listens to his coach, he does the hard work, has a racing strategy for each race and then he watches the race unfold listening to his intuition while at the same time making sure he checks back in periodically with his overall strategy for the race.  He won’t make a move unless it’s a real threat for the win and then when he’s in the move, he’s racing smart so that he doesn’t expend any more energy than necessary.  He’s learned a lot of these things from his past bike racing career when he was in his 20’s, and he’s also recently learned a lot from training and racing with a power meter.    Let’s examine a recent race win from an early season race so you can learn from his correct execution and smart racing and begin to understand how the minimum can make the difference between winning and being pack filler.

In this race, James spent much of the race conserving his energy as he knew it was likely that it would come down to a field sprint, which he could win, but he did make a few hard attacks to see if he could initiate a breakaway, since he also knew that he could win this way as well.   In figure 1, we see the overall power graph for the race itself which shows just how variable his power was over the race, but also how much time he spent below his threshold power.   I have added two gridlines in here in order to give some perspective to the graph, the lower gridline is at his FTP power- 345 watts and the upper gridline is at 700 watts where he had to do much of his surges in order to stay near the front of the race.  The race had two distinct hard sections in it when he had to push himself close to his FTP.  The first one occurred about 12 minutes into the race when he attacked and attempted a breakaway and then the 2nd hard effort was in the last 5 minutes when he had to jockey for position, maintain that position and prepare for the sprint.  The rest of the time was really pretty easy for him as evidenced by his heart rate barely going over 160bpm for much of the race.

In figure 2, we see the cadence distribution chart from the race itself which shows how much time he spent pedaling in different cadence ranges along with how much time he spent not pedaling.   James spent over 22% of the race not pedaling and even in a short race like this one, that can make a difference.  Conservation of energy is definitely critical here as it is in any race.

“The sprint before the sprint”

Examining the two minutes of the race leading up to the finish in Figure 3, we see that the old bike racing saying, “the sprint before the sprint” proved accurate and was critical to his positioning so he could sprint for the win.  We see that he did 4 fairly hard sprints in those last  2 minutes and his average wattage was 444watts, which is nearly 100 watts over his threshold power, but clearly sustainable for a short period of time.  Those sprints were not very hard for him as he can do over 1300watts for 5 seconds, and these just barely cracked 1000 watts for 2-4 seconds, however they do have the ability to pre-fatigue those sprinting muscles which means that quick recovery from sprints, along with doing sprint repeats in training is critical to success.  Notice that between the sprints, James didn’t pedal much and was doing everything he could to recover for the next sprint and truly minimizing his effort.

Training at your Maximum

For racing, doing the minimum needed to win is one of your key goals in every race, since you want to conserve energy and only use it when you need to and want to for the most effective effort.  Let’s look at the maximum of training now, so that we can see the stark contrast between a race and a tough ‘kitchen sink’ workout.

James did this ‘kitchen sink’ workout leading up to his first peak of the season and I really like prescribing these kind of workouts, as they simulate closely the different demands of racing, fatigue the cardiovascular and muscular system and also help to get the athlete to learn just how fatigued they can be and still go hard.  A ‘kitchen sink’ workout is so called as it contains a bit of all the training levels, from easy endurance riding to hard threshold intervals to some short sprints and tough tempo near the end.   In Figure 4, you’ll see that James did (4) x 12 minutes at his FTP, some hard sprints afterwards, fast pedaling drills, 2 minute anaerobic capacity efforts and then finished off with 45minutes at sweet-spot(88-93% of his FTP).   This workout resulted in a Training Stress Score of 333 points, was over five hours long and had a normalized power at 274 watts, which means it was the equivalent of a solid tempo ride for over 5 hours.  Clearly, this is not an easy workout and one that you undertake without building up to it.   When executed well, you should come home pretty spent with muscles twitching from the effort and ready for a nap!   When going for maximum exhaustion in a workout such as this, it’s important that you hydrate and feed yourself correctly, otherwise you won’t have a chance in completing it properly and if you do start to get some muscle cramps near the end don’t allow them to go into full blown ‘lock-ups’ as that damages muscle tissue and takes a long time to repair.  Sure, this is way harder than anything James would do in a race and way harder than anything you might do in a race, but that is the purpose.  If you really want your FTP to improve, then you have to do some incredibly difficult five hour rides, which bring you to near exhaustion.  These kinds of efforts make you stronger, help you to improve throughout all your training levels and give you a maximum return on training investment.   They are not workouts that you should do every weekend, but doing them every couple of weeks would be great in order to continue to push up your fitness level.    

Maximize Everything

Maximizing your training really means maximizing it in every aspect that you can think of, so making sure you are doing the intervals correctly and completely, maximizing the time you have to train, maximizing your effort itself so that you are digging deep enough even though you are tired and doing your best.  The best that you give to your workouts should be your maximum.  Ask yourself after your intervals at threshold, “Did I do my best?”, “Did I push as hard as I could?” and then analyze your power files to see if those wattage goals for each sprint, each anaerobic capacity interval, each sweet-spot push were done in the correct wattages as well.   Many of your training rides won’t be like the ‘kitchen sink’ workout, but you’ll still need to crush it on those short, but intense 1-2 hour rides and push those intervals to the maximum.  In my book, “Training and Racing with a power meter”, there is a section on doing ‘intervals to exhaustion’ and that is one of the ‘maximums’ that you should strive to do at least once a week.    The contrast between your training and racing is often times completely at opposite ends of the spectrum and this is important for you to realize and understand.  When you race and finish the race can you say to yourself, “Wow, that was easier than my training”?  If so, then you know you are ready to win.  Strive to push yourself to the max in most of your workouts, strive to achieve more in your cycling and in your life, as when you maximize your training and learn to do this, you can take these same principles to your daily life.

Hunter Allen is a is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of “Triathlon Training With Power”, “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” and “Cutting-Edge Cycling,” co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes.

Data isn’t just data.

James Gleick in his new book, “The Information” says that the basis of the universe isn’t matter or energy. It’s data.  This is quite a profound and magical statement when you begin to think about it and how we interact with data changes our lives. It changes our cycling lives and our life in general from your iPhone to your connection to the internet and knowledge from all parts of the world.  Data is just strings of bits, but whether or not it contains information, depends on what you do with the data and how you learn to interpret it.  Interpreting data into useful information is a key skill that we all need to improve in all facets of our lives. The more information that we have, the more we can understand the role it plays in our lives and how we can become better cyclists and citizens in the world around us.

Using a power meter is one of the main ways that you can collect data in your cycling training and racing. A power meter can collect the data, but you have to turn that data into information that can be interpreted and used to make changes in your cycling.  Your power meter collects this data at one second samples and it can be up seven different channels of data like speed, cadence, elevation, torque and even GPS.  The key is that we turn that data into information and that is done through software analysis in a program like TrainingPeaks WKO+ and also education in articles and books so that you can understand this data and information. In this world of cycling in which you are immersed and inside this amazing magazine full of information, we need to discuss the different categories of data.  Each category can give us some insight into a part of our cycling that we can improve or just learn about for a better experience down the road.  Of course using a power meter on your bike is really our only meaningful data capture device we currently have available in our world. A meaningful data capture device to me means that it has the ability to help you make changes in your training; it gives me the information I need to decide whether or not one of my athletes should do a workout or not, or do 8 hill repeats or 12 hill repeats, or whether they should train their threshold power or their anaerobic capacity and this information makes my job more precise and efficient.

There are seven main categories of data:

1-Point related data, you look at the power or cadence or HR at specific moment in the ride.   This can help to determine if the interval or exercise was executed correctly. This is the simplest of the data you are capturing and here you are drilling down to the minutiae so that you can determine if you held just enough watts for the required period of time.  I look at point related daily with my clients’ files, and this is something that I learn many things from how many watts an athlete cracked out for the interval to whether or not they paced themselves correctly and even if they created the watts correctly using the right balance of force and cadence

2-Warning system Data. Data can be used as an early warning system. This data is comprised of many, many smaller data sets and we need to look at this data over a longer period of time.  Unfortunately, in order for this warning system to ring the warning bells, you need a large data set of your rest days, your hard days, your races and all your rides no matter how easy or hard they are.  This is a critical part of the warning system and if you are missing data because you didn’t use your power meter in a race or because it had to be sent back for repairs then you really compromise the integrity of the warning system.  My warning bells can tell me if a client is doing too much training too quickly and overtraining could occur.  Another warning could be that you might see a drop in your threshold power suddenly and unexpectedly.  While out on a ride doing intervals you could use your power meter to tell you when to stop doing intervals, as your power has decreased below optimal in creating the right training stress.

3-Detector Data.  Data can be a detector.   When you cracked out your best 20 minutes, how fresh were you?  When you blew on the big climb, what happened in the 5 minutes before it? 10 minutes before it? In post analysis of your data, you can use your data to better understand your failures and your successes.  When you succeeded, what exactly did you do in order to succeed and when you failed, why did that happen?   Was it the 10th hill that crushed you or was it the violent attacks up the 10th hill that crushed you?

4-Instanteous Data. Data can give you instant feedback.  During a workout, you continually watch your powermeter to stay within required limits for optimal training. This is where your power meter can help you in pacing.   Cycling is a sport of pacing, and you must pace yourself in a breakaway, in a long road race, in a short criterium and in a century ride or gran fondo.  Pace your effort on the hills and pace yourself with your nutrition and hydration as well.  These are all key fundamentals to your success as a cyclist and one of the beauties of using a power meter: the data is instantaneous.  You push down on the pedals, and you see the number on the screen instantly.   There is no lag time, there is nothing to wait for or download later, it’s right there and it happens immediately.

5- Investigative Data. Data can help you be a detective.  If a problem occurs, then that’s when you can use the data to help you detect the problems. Sometimes you have to dig deeper into the issue surrounding a success or failure and reviewing the data maybe the way you discover the true underlying cause of your performance.    I spend a lot of time being a detective when I analyze an athlete’s data, asking myself questions like: “How many times did he have to attack and how many watts were in each attack before he was able to get away?” or “As this athlete fatigues, does she choose a bigger gear because they have more natural strength than endurance or do they just not have enough muscular endurance to begin with?”

6- Explanation Data.  Data can explain why you are faster or slower.  You have to understand what information the data is trying to tell you. You have to translate it.  Like James Gleick said, “Data is only a string of bits and has nothing to do with information. The information comes from understanding and that is our job to understand it.”   Why were your watts lower than yesterday?  Is it because you are tired and couldn’t physically produce the watts?  Was it because you tried to test up a steep climb and you are better as a flat time trialist?  Was it because you had your arch-nemesis to chase therefore you were pushing harder than ever to beat them?   This type of data is similar to the data you get from investigative data, but explanation data provides a quicker insight into the information you need.

7-Incorrect data or biased Data- This is worse than no data at all.  Sometimes you can correct for incorrect data from your past experiences. Other times you have to throw it away. Incorrect data is easy to identify in most cases, but biased data is much harder to discern.  Fortunately, our power meters are not biased (I hope!) and therefore we rarely have to consider biased data, but often our data can be incorrect and that can pose many problems in analysis.

The data is always clear as a bell to see, but it’s not clear whether or not it explains the problem.

You must first prepare the data in order to identify the problem and this is what turns data into information.    To achieve the right interpretation of the data, you need experience and a gift for joining the dots together in one picture or just good computer software…..  I do believe that you need to have a personal connection to the data and understand this information first for yourself and then you can understand it for others.  I have seen too many coaches trying to coach athletes with a power meter, but they have never used a power meter themselves, so have no understanding of what 300 watts feels like to them or what 1000watts feels like.   This data, this information that we capture on a power meter has the unique aspect in that we can associate it with a feeling and learn that sometimes our feelings are incongruent with the data and other times feels exactly how it appears.

The experience and a basic knowledge of riding and racing a bicycle are essential. You are creating a harmony between man and machine.   You are looking to optimize what your body is telling you about how it feels and what the data is telling you about how you feel.   Relying solely on the data is dangerous and doesn’t tell the whole picture, but the information we gather from the different categories of data can help us to improve as cyclists and citizens of this world of data.

Hunter Allen is a is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of “Triathlon Training With Power”, “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” and “Cutting-Edge Cycling,” co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes.

The Classics ~ Paris-Roubaix

Paris-Roubaix is another incredibly epic race just a week after Flanders and this pro in the world tour cracked out a HUGE amount of work with 6175kiloJoules in this 6-hour 12-minute race, and averaged 323 watts normalized, which makes this his second hardest race for the year behind Flanders.   One distinct difference is that in P-R, he was on the GAS for the entire race and examining Figure 2, shows that he spent very little time resting and relaxing in the peloton. 

Paris-Roubaix has no equal in its demands and while most of us will never get a chance to race in P-R, we can learn a bit from his file. What strikes me as most interesting is that despite being on the gas from the start, he still was able to put out over 370 watts after 4 hours of racing, which means that his muscular endurance is highly trained.  Muscular endurance is something that all of us can use and means you can contract and relax your muscles at a relatively high force for a long period of time without fatiguing.  Normally if muscular endurance is an issue, then you’ll get cramps in the race or event you are doing especially if the majority of the race has been harder than expected.    How do you improve your muscular endurance?  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this, and you just have to commit to longer and harder rides than you have done in the past.  Length will challenge your muscular endurance, but without intensity, it will not be specific enough to help you come race day, so make sure that in your longer rides this winter and spring, you add in plenty of sweet-spot, threshold and even big gear intervals into the mix so you can prepare for those hard events in 2022.

Hunter Allen is a is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of “Triathlon Training With Power”, “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” and “Cutting-Edge Cycling,” co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes.