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April ALP Ride

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

Last month, I explained how important it is for a coach to ride with her/his athletes and here, at ALP Cycles Coaching, we make it a priority to ride with our Colorado athletes. This past Wednesday was our April ALP Ride. After our coaches meeting (we ALP coaches have several meetings a month), the three of us filmed a on-bike skills video for our athletes. We really believe that developing sound bike handling skills makes for better bike racers and we want our athletes to know what drills to do and how to do them.

Then it was time to ride with our ALP athletes. We pre rode the Koppenburg course. We talked about forming a race strategy, using landmarks to get into good position leading up the the “hill”, how to ride the hill, and we finished by doing Race Winning Intervals up and over the hill.

Despite the wind, and the looming snow, it was a fun and quality evening on the bike.

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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.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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Every Friday, we do a blog post. Each coach, Patricia, Jennifer, and myself, pick a topic to write about. Our question to you is this– what do you want to know about? Any special Blog Post Friday requests? If so, comment below on your topic of choice.

Race Day Nutrition

ALP Coach Patricia is racing the Redlands Classic this week in California. Want to know what she’s eating and drinking on race day? She tells us…

Come race day- your nutrition is a very important part to have a successful day on the bike.

Eat a meal 2.5 to 3 hours pre-race. This is your last chance to fuel your body for the race. Aim for easy to digest carbohydrates and small amounts of fat and protein. This meal can be pretty big. So if racing in the AM, eat a good size breakfast. If racing in the PM, eat an early lunch. Before a TT you may want to have some more time to digest; eat 3.5-4 hours before your TT start time. Keep hydrating during the time till your race starts.

Have a small snack around the time you are warming up. If your race is short (1 hour) take 1 bottle and 1 gel with you.

If you are racing longer than 1 hour, drink at least 1 bottle per hour. Make sure that 1 or better both of your bottles contain some kind of a drink mix. Drinking plain water only doesn’t help you to replace the minerals you are sweating out. Eat something every 30min (gel, 1/2 bar, banana etc.)

It is easy to forget to eat and drink during a race. In cold conditions for example, you might feel less thirsty. Or maybe you are just too scared to take your hands off your handle bar to grab a bottle or a bar. Yep I admit, I made that mistake quite a few times while racing the spring classic races in northern Europe. Instead of eating and drinking enough during the race, I decided to rather keep my hands on my handlebar and not lose any positions in the bunch- it was a bad idea of course.

Remember to eat and drink during a race, the longer the race the more important it is. Try to eat/ drink small amounts but repeat every 15min or so instead of eating a whole bar in once and then nothing for the next hour.

Make use of calm moments or good places in a race to eat and drink. Don’t choose to eat your energy bar right before you head into the next climb.

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Interested in a training plan, but not full on coaching? Only have time for 3 bike workouts a week? Or are you a Triathlete looking to improve your cycling? Check out or new TrainingPeaks 13- week training plan.

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Very important is also to test a new product at first in training before you use it in a race. Try to find out what works best for you. Not everyone is the same- make sure your nutrition and hydration is dialed in before you use it in racing.

Getting tired of the sweetness or always same flavors of your bars and gels? Try a savory version instead. (Personally I really like a salty nuts bar for a change.)

Sometimes the easy things can be better for you. Instead of always buying expensive bars, gels or drops you could make your own additional race food, just so you have something different in your pockets.

snackHere are some ideas to make your own race food, it is very easy! Buy waffles, cut them in smaller pieces, putting two together like a sandwich and fill them with jam, vanilla cream, Nutella, peanut or almond butter, etc. Wrap them with foil and they are ready to go in your pocket. Buy some milk breads (small soft breads). Cut them in half and take out some of the soft middle part. Fill in sweets like jam, banana& honey, almond butter etc. or go savory and stuff them with ham or cheese. In the end you put the top back into the bread to close it and ensure the filling stays inside. Again wrap up in foil. These “panini” are a typical Italian style race food.

Other foods that are great to put in your pockets are: coconut macaroons, stroop waffels (the originals are from the Netherlands), dried fruits, bananas, self-made rice cakes etc.

swiss snackWhat about my favorite race or training food? I really like to eat Biberli, a specialty from Switzerland. They taste like gingerbread and have a sweet almond filling. Cool thing is that you can buy them in (Swiss) grocery stores in the perfect size for your jersey-pocket.
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Aiming for a belt buckle at Leadville? Join us in June for our Leadville Trail 100 Pre-Ride weekend. We will dial in race strategy, lines and technical features, pacing, hydration and nutrition, and training. After this weekend, you have 6 weeks until race day.
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Some more tips:

-take a scissors/knife and cut your bars in half. You will have less problems with unwrapping them during the race and that way they are already in a good size/serving to eat in once.

-If you need to eat during a race but you know it will be hard to do so, then prepare your bottle before the start with pouring a gel into your bottle. That way you get your energy in without messing around with opening that gel.

Typical race to use that tip would be a criterium.

-Don’t throw the empty gel/bar wrapping just out into the nature, put the trash back in your jersey pocket and throw it out in the feeding zone (usually race organizers take care about trash in feeding zones) or then keep it in your pocket till the finish.

Don’t forget that your nutrition is also important once the race is over! After your cool down keep drinking and within 25 minutes eat and/or drink something easily digestible with simple carbohydrates and a little protein –more protein and less carbohydrate if you are a woman.

Eat a normal meal 2 hours post-race. Balance the calories you expended during the day of racing with the calories consumed the rest of the day. The right nutrition will help you recover from the race and feel better tomorrow.

Race Plan- Make it Specific

By ALP Coach and current Road and Time Trial National Champion Alison Powers

Over the past month, I have taught a handful of skills clinics, and gone to one training camp in Grand Junction with the local 50×15 Colorado team. During this time teaching, I’ve been reminded how specific bike racing and training needs to be in order to have success.

Training- we talk about specificity in training a lot. You need to train specifically for what you are racing for. In training, everything is planned out. Intervals- length, duration, watts, cadence, rest periods, etc. Endurance rides- every bit of a 3hr ride can be planned out and executed to perfection then analyzed over and over again. Rest days, fitness, CTL, TSS, TSB can all be planned out perfectly for your ‘A’ race. Everything is as specific as possible.

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ALP Cycles Coaching specializes in skills clinics. Our coaches work with individuals and teams to better their bike handling skills, team tactics, and overall confidence on a bike. Check out http://alpcyclescoaching.com/cc.php for more information.

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However, when it comes to the actual race day, it seems many people wing it. “I’m just going to race and see what happens” is a commonly overheard sentence on race day. Why go through all that specific preparation just to wing it on race day? How can you expect to have race success for your team and for yourself if you don’t have a specific race plan and know how to exactly execute said plan?

Specificity on race day begins from the time you wake up. Every part of your pre race routine needs to be dialed in from when you wake up to how long it will take you to get to the start, park, register, warm-up—a specific warm-up is a must— what you are going to drink and eat pre race, and when you will get to the start. What do you need to do to get your head in the game and focused on the task at hand?

A specific race plan will not only keep you focused during the race, it increases your and your team’s chance at success. A few things to think about before coming up with a race plan-

  • What is the goal of the race?
  • What is your goal of the race?
  • What is your team’s goal of the race?
  • What are your best chances of attaining that goal?

Once you know these things, you can come up with a race plan. For example-

  • To gain confidence in myself and my fitness
  • Podium- top 3
  • To get one of us on the podium
  • Breakaway as I am not confident in my sprinting. Or, if it is a sprint finish, I will help leadout our team’s sprinter for the finish and her chance of a podium.

This is a good start but this is not specific enough to keep yourself and your teammates accountable and focused on the task at hand. This is where a specific race plan needs to be laid out, talked about at a team meeting, and everyone needs to be on-board with the race plan.

Race plan—I have 3 teammates in this race with me. 2 of us will be patient the first half of the race, then we will start to look for opportunities to either- 1- attack or 2- follow attacks. She is a stronger climber than I am, so she will attack on the 2-mile climb. If she is caught, I will counter attack. We will take turns counter attacking each other until one of us is away or it is obvious it’s going to be a sprint finish. If it is a sprint finish, at 2km to go the three of us will get together near the front of the race. Then at the mailboxes that are ~600 meters from the finish, our sprinter and I will get on my teammate’s wheel as she starts the leadout. She will go full gas as long as she can, and when I can come around with ~300 meters to go, I will finish the leadout and our sprinter will sprint for the win. I will also make sure to eat and drink every 30-45min or sooner, when possible.

leadout

This is a specific race plan. You and your teammates know exactly what to do, when to do it, and you are held accountable for your race actions. Just like a coach holds you accountable for your training, recovery, and nutrition, you hold yourself accountable on race day.

The more specific your plan is on race day, the more chances of success you have. Good luck racing this weekend!

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Join our ALP Cycles Coaching Family. 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.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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photo credit- Anton Price

Make your workouts more effective: Use a training log

By USAC Level 1 ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp
           For the past two weekends, Alison and I had the opportunity to work with the Colorado Women’s Cycling Project on road racing, sprinting and cornering techniques. Over 20 women showed up, ready and eager to learn. We lead the ladies through single pace lines, rotating pace lines and moving up the middle drills. Then we focused on cornering techniques, riding two and three abreast through corners and how to clip in and quickly sprint from a simulated race start. We targeted specific handling drills and watched athletes quickly progress over the two hour sessions.
              I love working with Alison. She teaches me something new every time and reminds me of lessons I’ve learned and may have forgotten. One is the importance of writing down what you learn at a clinic. Those nuggets of wisdom will pay off big time if you remember them and build on them.
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Aiming for a belt buckle at Leadville? Join us in June for our Leadville Trail 100 Pre-Ride weekend. We will dial in race strategy, lines and technical features, pacing, hydration and nutrition, and training. After this weekend, you have 6 weeks until race day.
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                Being surrounded by so many new racers made me nostalgic for when I first started racing in Seattle in 2004. I am forever grateful for the coaches I’ve had over the years and their various teachings and training log methods. Check it out! This is how I used to track my workouts. (I’m dating myself, I know.)
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                Whether you’re new to racing or a seasoned veteran, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a training and racing log. The experience and knowledge you gain on and off your bike is invaluable and will help you progress as an athlete. Gone are the days of printed and photocopied calendars. I am thankful we now track TSS, CTLs and ATLs online. But keeping an effective training log goes beyond just the numbers – recalling mental training cues is just as critical to your success as downloading your ride data.
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               So if you’re looking for a way to make your training even more effective, take the time to write down what you gained from each workout. A few minutes here and there will show you what worked and what didn’t. Get specific – if you were unable to complete a workout because you couldn’t focus or you felt a hiccup in your giddy-up – write it down! It not only helps you, but informs your coach of what’s going on.
            Taking notes is a powerful teaching tool, can be a written motivator, and could prevent injuries. Set yourself up for success and make a note of what you learn. It may come in hand sooner than you think!

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ALP Cycles Coaching specializes in skills clinics. Our coaches work with individuals and teams to better their bike handling skills, team tactics, and overall confidence on a bike. Check out http://alpcyclescoaching.com/cc.php for more information.

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How to Prepare Your Race Tactics

By Swiss Miss ALP Coach Patricia Schwager

In order to have success in a race, you have to be prepared for the race. Great training alone won’t do it. This means you have to know the facts about the race and race course and then come up with a tactic on how you can reach your goal for the race.

Use tools such as the race bible, previous results, online resources (GoogleEarth, Strava, etc) and check out the race map, course description and profile. What is the race distance? Is the race a certain amount of laps or from point A to B? It is also important to know where and when primes, sprint points, KOM’s (QOM’s), etc. are. It might s not be your plan to go for the primes, KOM’s, etc- but you have to know that at this point in the race; some other riders will go for it and the pace of the race will pick up. After a prime or mid race sprint it is always a good situation to launch a counter attack.

The more important facts to find out are: is it flat or hilly? Long or short climbs? Any technical parts where you better stay in the first positions? Tricky descents? Is the race course wide open or covered by trees/ houses? Wide roads or narrow roads? Is the pavement bad or good? Cobbles or dirt sections? If it is windy, make sure to know the wind direction. It is very important to know the tail- head or crosswind sections.

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Join our ALP Cycles Coaching Family. 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.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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Once you know all the facts, you have to create your race tactic. What is your goal, what is your team’s goal, and how can you reach those goals?

Maybe it is your plan to play it defensively and wait for the final sprint. Or maybe you decide to race offensive and try your luck in a break.

You also have to find an answer for these questions:

Where do you need to be in the first positions of the pack? In which part of the race course can you hide in the bunch and save energy? Where are good places to attack?

Pay special attention to the last km/mi of the race. Where is the final corner, what position should you have going into it and where do you start your sprint?

If you have done the race before- you should remember the race course and how the race unfolded the last time (make sure to use a training log so you can make notes about each race- what went well and what could have been done better).

If you are doing the race for the first time, you can ask other riders or teammates who did the race before about how the race went and what to expect. This can be helpful to get a few tips, but it could be confusing too, as you might hear completely different opinions about the exact same racecourse.

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ALP Cycles Coaching specializes in skills clinics. Our coaches work with individuals and teams to better their bike handling skills, team tactics, and overall confidence on a bike. Check out http://alpcyclescoaching.com/cc.php for more information.

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This is why I personally prefer to see the racecourse myself, just so I get my own opinion/picture of it in my head.

The best option is if you can pre ride a race course. For a TT is it absolutely essential to pre ride it. You have to know the corners and the shortest line through the TT-course. And you also need to figure out how to pace your TT.

For a criterium or circuit-race; you should be able to pre ride a lap or two during warm-up as the laps are short.

However, for a road race it isn’t always possible to see the whole racecourse, especially if the race goes from point A to point B. This is when you have to do some research. If the race website provides good info with a map/profile make use of that. You can also use Google Earth, as it gives you a pretty good idea how it will look like. Another good thing to do is to create the race route and profile. This is pretty easy to do, on Strava for example, and will help you to understand the race course better.

Most helpful tip: write down the important things on a small piece of tape and put it on your stem or top tube.

stem tape

Mileage of things like sprints, climbs, feeding zones and finish. That way it is easy to remember the important points in the race, especially when your mind is getting tired from suffering during the race.

Before you go to a race, you need to have a picture in your mind about the race course. It is important to know what will await you and during the race you should know exactly what will come up next. You need to have a personal goal for the race and a plan how to reach it. If you need help, ask your coach for advice and tips!

ALP Cycles Goes TT-ing

March ALP Athlete Ride

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

In my mind, the most important thing a coach can do for her/his athletes, is to ride with them. So much knowledge and information can be gained from seeing an athlete on their bike. A power meter won’t tell you how their bike fit is or how smooth of a pedal stroke they have. A ride file won’t show you their cornering skills (or lack there of). An email can’t do justice in describing a course and explaining how to race it. Intervals done alone will never be as intense or as fun as riding with 10 strong, competitive riders.

FullSizeRender (3)Here at ALP Cycles Coaching, we make it a priority to ride with our Colorado athletes. Not enough coaches take the time to spend 3 hours pre riding a race course and teaching skills to their athletes.

This past Sunday, was our March ALP Ride. We have a monthly ride for our Silver Level Athletes (Gold Level athletes get two rides a month). We pre rode the Boulder Roubaix course. An 18mile loop with dirt roads, rollers, wind, and pavement. The first lap, we discussed how to look at the course in sections- where to sit in and conserve, where the wind will be coming from, where to be in good position, how and where to attack, when and what to eat/drink, etc. The second lap, we raced each other. It was a very quality race type effort that showed everyone what their legs will be feeling like the last 25min of the race and, despite this, how to stay focused on the finish.

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We took video, talked race and finish strategy, and got everyone excited to race on the dirt with their skinny tires.

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Interested in a training plan, but not full on coaching? Only have time for 3 bike workouts a week? Or are you a Triathlete looking to improve your cycling? Check out or new TrainingPeaks 13- week training plan.

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As an ALP Cycles cycling coach, we try to be true teachers of the sport. We will not only give you a training plan that will get you better, faster, stronger, we will take the time to ride with you- teach you- make you a better and more confident cyclist and racer.

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Join our ALP Cycles Coaching Family. 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.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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