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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.

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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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An ALP Weekend In Maryland

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Last weekend, ALP Coaches Patricia Schwager and Alison Powers flew from Colorado to Maryland. The trip had many purposes. 1- visit ALP athlete Stu Waring and his Bicycle Store Parvilla Cycle and Multisport, 2- Learn some basic bike fit know-how and knowledge that we can use with our ALP athletes, 3- spend time with the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team (ABRT).

Friday morning started with a Computrainer workout with Stu, Paddy and me.

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After stretching, recovery drinks, and showers it was time for Stu to teach Paddy and I about bike fitting. Stu was a great teacher and taught us far more than I could have ever expected. Learning about how to give a quality bike fit and all the small details that a bike fit takes into account (flexibility, history of injury, body alignment, feet and foot beds, etc.) reiterated to me how important it is for everyone to have a proper bike fit. A bike fit is so much more than seat height, set-back and reach. A good bike fit, fits the bike to your body- not your body to the bike.

ALP athlete, turned teacher of the day, Stu showing Paddy the changes he can do to her bike fit to make her more powerful and comfortable on the bike.

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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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Then, it was my turn for footbeds.

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Friday night, we were treated to a very nice sushi dinner.

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Saturday morning, we woke up to freezing rain. So, instead of going on a long ride with ABRT, we treated the team to multiple Computrainer classes at Parvilla.

The workout we designed for the team was a race winning interval workout complete with a race day warm-up and cool down. Our goal was to teach the riders what a good warm-up feels like, then do some hard interval work to simulate attacking, being in a breakaway and sprinting for the finish.

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Saturday evening, we dressed up and went to the ABRT season kick-off party. It was fun!

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Sunday brought more rain and snow, so we were again on the Computrainers with the ABRT Women’s Team.

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That afternoon, we had lunch and a Q & A session with the women. Not only did Paddy and I get to hang out with the ABRT women, they got to hang out with us- A current professional bike racer, and the current national road and TT champion. When I started bike racing, other than Lance Armstrong, I didn’t know one single bike racer. I had no idea about women’s racing and had no mentors. I wish I could have had the same opportunity these women did.

Paddy and I had a really great time in Maryland. We learned, we laughed, we ate donuts, we trained, and we gave back to the sport we love so much.

To learn more about our coaching and coaches- check out ALPCyclescoaching.com

The Importance of Self-Talk

Written by ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp
For the most part, we are aware of what we say to other people. They provide immediate feedback if what we said to them is positive or negative. But what about when you talk to yourself? That little voice inside of your head that can support and pump you up or criticize and beat you down. The following are some tips you can use to improve your self-talk.
What do you say to yourself in the moment before competition or training? 

Language controls our behavior. Becoming aware of what you say to yourself prior to working out or competing is the first step in enhancing your self-talk. There is a direct relationship between language and sport behavior. Start noticing how you approach competition in your mind and make note of it.

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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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Create mental scripts.
Create a language routine that you can use during various points of a performance. It can focus on thoughts, behavior, emotions, physical feelings and/or images. For example, for a standing start in an electronic gate at the track you can practice hearing the count down timer, feel yourself rock back and explode forward, pushing the pedals and pulling your hips forward, picturing yourself strong, focused and fast. “Push, pull! Push, pull!” (I can still hear coaches yell this as a verbal reminder of what to do.)
Develop personal cue words for key techniques.
 
“Push, pull! Push, pull!” is a great example of doing that. Using cue words can help your mind and body focus on key things at key moments. Focus on key words that keep you in the present. Repeat them often so they create a sense of comfort and familiarity. That way when you are in the last few hours or minutes before performing, you can use those cue words to put you in the zone.
Hopefully you can create your own scripts and cue words for your next event. I’m curious – what are some of the things you do you do to help prepare yourself for competition? Please leave your comments below.
Editors note- I use “I am better. I am faster. I am stronger.”
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photo credit- Josh Cook at Pactimo

Anti-Doping Rules

By Swiss Miss and ALP Coach Patricia Schwager.

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If you are a bike racer, then you should pay special attention to this blog. As a member or license holder of USA Cycling, you have to be aware that you can get drug tested; no matter on what level you are racing. This is because USAC is a recognized sport of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). For this reason it is important that you know the anti-doping rules.

If you are in a registered testing pool, then you are required to fill-out anti-doping whereabouts 365 days a year.You can get tested in AND out of competition.

In my case, this means I have to send 3 months of planning at a time to Swiss Antidoping. This is because I’m Swiss and I’m racing with a Swiss license. I have to make sure my whereabouts are updated all the time. These whereabouts include travel, team camps, daily training, races, race accommodations, time I’m at home etc. It is quite some work but I’m responsible that my whereabouts are correct all the time- 3 missed tests within 12 months would lead to a positive test.

I spend a lot of time in the US, and because of this, Swiss Antidoping authorizes USADA (United States Anti Doping Agency) to test me out-of-competition. Last year I had 5 or 6 out-of-competition and 3 or 4 in-competition tests. With that amount of tests, I was the most tested rider of my team. Filling out whereabouts and getting frequently tested is part of being a pro rider- still I think there aren’t enough tests. The problem is that the tests are expensive and they need to get improved all the time because the prohibited substances develop further all the time.

Things are different if you are not registered in a testing pool. You do not have to fill out whereabouts, but you still can get tested in-competition.

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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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At races, there is usually a chaperone waiting for you after the finish who will tell you that you have been choosen for the anti-doping test. You then have to sign a notification paper and the chaperone will accompany you as a ”shadow” to the control station. Sometimes, however, there are no chaperones and you have to check yourself if there is an anti-doping control and, if so, which bib numbers got drawn for the control. A DNF doesn’t save you from testing and you still can get choosen. This is really important as a missed test will count as a positive test.

If you have to go to an Anti-doping test, you have your rights but you must also follow the rules. You may be required to provide a urine sample, a blood sample or both.

The following link to Anti-doping 101 for Athletes explains all about testing: http://www.usada.org/athletes/antidoping101/

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) prohibited list is the international standard for identifying substances and methods prohibited in sport. Broken down by categories, the list identifies which substances and methods are prohibited in-competition, out-of-competition, or in some cases by specific sport. The list gets updated annually.

This means as an athlete you have to be very careful when taking any medications or supplements. You and you alone are responsible for what you put in your body. Never ever just take something assuming it will be ok- if you are unsure don’t take it. Ask before you buy or get the product. Always double check and look up the exact same name that is written on your product.

You can check it online: http://www.globaldro.com/

Or you can call the drug reference phone line: 719-785-2000 press option 2

It is also important that you talk to your coach about any substances you are taking or wish to take.

If you are on any strong medication then you shouldn’t race anyway- in my opinion. Your head has to be in the game while racing, being on some sort of painkiller drugs, for example, will make you feel different.

In some situations you might have an illness or condition that requires the use of a prohibited medication. In this case you have to file a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemptions). But you need to do that in Advance of a competition/ race and USADA has to approve it.

My indisputable request is: Race clean- Play true!

Editors note—Many athletes use an inhaler for asthma and/or exercise-induced asthma. Most of these medications require a TUE and, if you are an athlete wishing to race at a National level (Master’s Nationals, Elite Nationals, etc.), then you need a TUE, as you have a higher chance of getting tested at National events.

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