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Leadville Trail 100 Pre-Ride Weekend

This past weekend we were in Leadville, pre-riding the Leadville Trail 100. It was a fun and jam packed two days. Here is a re-camp of what we did.

Saturday

Short talk about the course, and the sections we were riding that day. We started at the bottom of Powerline and headed toward Columbine in the pavement and dirt road sections as well as Pipeline. We talked about thinking like a roadie in those sections, and finding people to work with, staying out of the wind, etc. We also talked about  learning your heart rate and where you go into the Red Zone. You want to avoid that red zone when racing Leadville, so it’s important to know your “governor”.

IMG_4579We got on our bikes and did a short cone drill to get everyone’s head up, and eyes looking down the trail.

Once on course, we rode well together. We stopped at each of the aid stations and talked about strategy for feeding and what to expect in the feedzone.

After 1.5hrs of riding, our feedzone for the day was at Twin Lakes. Heidi and Josephine had water, Osmo, muffins, nuts, and other yummy ride food for us. We restocked in anticipation of a 2-2.5hr round trip up Columbine and back.

We were surprised at how little snow there was above treeline and made it almost to the top where the turn around is in the race. While climbing Columbine, we counted the switch backs- 8-, and really found what our HR governor is. Also talked about gearing for the race. You want to have a big enough gear to ride fast on the pavement, but not too big of a gear to have push when climbing.

Before we descended, we briefly talked about what it’s like to have two way traffic on this part of the course.

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Once back at our Feed zone, Heidi and Josephine had more snacks and drinks for us (including cokes).

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Then it was time to get back on our bikes and head back the way we came. After 4hrs of riding, it was a good test to see how our legs would do and feel on race day.

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Back at the house, Heidi and Josephine had Osmo Recovery drinks and quiche’s ready for us. After 6hrs on the bike, those tasted wonderful and were much appreciated.

We finished Saturday by having a short talk about what to expect on race day, how to dress, how much and how often to eat and drink, how to pace, and start corral position (very important!).

Sunday

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Sunday’s ride was shorter, but with just as much climbing as day one, we were in for a big day. We started in downtown Leadville, at the race start, and talked about the neutral start and how to maneuver yourself in such a large group. We found land markers and distance so we knew when the first climb started and how long it is. Up and over St. Kevins and toward Sugarloaf. We talked about thinking like a roadie again in this section and where good places to eat and drink are.

At the top of Sugarloaf, we stopped and looked at all the Powerline poles and found our “this is the top of the climb” marker, so we know when coming back up Powerline, where the top is. Our goal is no surprises on race day.

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We descended Powerline to our Feed Zone where water, Osmo, and snacks awaited us. I was surprised to see the small stream at the bottom of Powerline was no longer. It was filled in.

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Climbing back up Powerline, the question was- do I walk or do I ride? We talked about the pros and cons of each and came up with a plan.

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We descended Sugarloaf and started the pavement climb back up to St. Kevins. We decided the stand up- sit down technique was best for this climb. We noticed the rollers along the top of St Kevins and made mental note about how they would feel after 90 miles of racing.

The Leadville 100 is actually the Leadville 103. The last 3 miles are tough and they are a big surprise if you are not ready for them. So we made sure to ride the surprise 3 miles to the finish. Once back at the house, we had Osmo recovery drinks and quiche.

It was a great weekend of riding. We had over 105 miles of riding in 10hrs. Now it’s time to rest, before another block of specific preparation for the 100.

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Training with Minimal Time

By USAC Level 2 and TrainingPeaks Level 1 certified ALP Coach Alison Powers

For most of us, we don’t have 15-25hrs each week to train and ride our bike. Between family, work, and life chores, it’s hard to find time each day to ride. We have to make the most of what time to train we have. We want to achieve cycling success and gain fitness but how do we do that with just 3-4 days per week on the bike? The short answer is- quality over quantity of riding.

FullSizeRender (3)With 8-12hrs of training time a week (or as little as 5) that most of us have, we have to make every single workout count. Every single pedal stroke must count, or else you are wasting your time. This means recovery rides are out. Your recovery days are your days off the bike. When you do ride, aim for higher intensity. If you only have 60min to ride 2xweek, then make those sessions really count by including intervals. Warm-up for 15-20 min, then do 25min of high intensity intervals (Lactate Threshold, VO2 Max, and Anaerobic Capacity). Cool down for 10-15min and you have just completed a high quality workout in 60min.

The weekends, or your days off work, are great days to get in longer endurance rides. Aim for 2-4hrs with as much zones 2-4 as you can fit in. To much sure your ride is as quality as possible, avoid coasting and soft pedaling as those two things do nothing for your fintess. You’d be amazed by how taxing and tiring it is to go ride for 2 hour at zones 2-3 without coasting or soft pedaling. Want to make it even harder? Aim for a 95+ cadence- the entire time. This is a very quality 2 hour ride that will beat out any 3 hour ride with time spent coasting, surging, and soft pedaling.

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June Coaching Special! Join ALP Cycles Coaching and we’ll waive your start-up fee- a $75 value. When you’re an ALP Cycles athlete you get to ride with your coach, receive feedback on every workout and race, and learn race tactics by some of the best bike racers in the country.  ALP Cycles Coaching takes the care needed to develop each person into the best cyclist they can be.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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Your weekly training hours are precious. Make the most of them and make every bike ride and every workout count.

Here is an example of a week of training with minimal time.

Monday- Off- rest day

Tuesday- 60min ride with 5x5min HARD (Upper LT/Low VO2) 2.5min rest between intervals.

Wednesday- Off- rest day- perhaps some yoga, or easy cross train

Thursday- 75 min ride with Under/Overs- 2x15min at Low LT zone with 30 sec HARD every 4.5min. Rest 8min between intervals

Friday- Off- rest day

Saturday- 3hr Endurance ride Steady zones 2-3- 90+ rpm.

Sunday- Cross Train or endurance ride

To take the guess work out of training with minimal time, ALP Cycles Coaching has created a 13 week training plan, on TrainingPeaks, with three bike workouts a week. By the end of the training plan, you can expect to have become a better, faster, and more complete cyclist.

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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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Criterium Racing- tips and skills

This past Wednesday evening was our June ALP ride and the  topic was criterium racing. Criterium (crit) racing is a lot more than going around in a circle for 45min and sprinting at the end. Tactics, skills, team work, and fitness all come into play when racing a crit.

ALP CritThe things we talked about and practiced were:
-Tactics- decide on a race plan (tactic) pre ride, and execute it in the race. However, be open and prepared to switch to a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t or won’t work.
-If you are racing on a hilly crit course, there are places where you need suffer and push hard (uphills and toward the finish) and there are places where you can recover (downhills and corners- if you have proficient cornering and descending skills).
-Depending on the course, you may need to switch into your small ring to save your legs and carry speed. We talked about where to shift, what gears to use, big ring/small ring?_____________________________________________________________________________________

June Coaching Special! Join ALP Cycles Coaching and we’ll waive your start-up fee- a $75 value. When you’re an ALP Cycles athlete you get to ride with your coach, receive feedback on every workout and race, and learn race tactics by some of the best bike racers in the country.  ALP Cycles Coaching takes the care needed to develop each person into the best cyclist they can be.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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-There will be times in the race or on the course where you need to stand up and get out of the saddle (to accelerate or to climb). There are also times when you need to have your hands in drops (corners, sprints, accelerations), and there are times when it is ok to be in the hoods.

crit pic-When racing a crit, your line through the corners and around the course matters.You want to choose the shortest line, protect your inside through corners, and take the straightest line to the finish.
-A really important race tactic is to read other people and other teams in the race. Watch and listen to what your opponents are doing and anticipate their next move. 

– Lastly, positioning in a crit is very important. The better you are at keeping a position near the front of the race, the more energy you will have at the end of the race for when the going gets tough. Being at the front of the race makes it easier to carry speed through corners, follow attacks/accelerations, and sprint for the win.

We practiced these tips and skills in 3 mini races- each person for themselves- no team work. It was hard, it was fun, and we all learned a lot.

crit2After the ride, we served up Osmo recovery drinks and ate snacks while we talked more about tactics and advice for the upcoming Colorado races.

Mental Training- stay in the comfort zone or strive to go further?

ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp was in Colorado Springs this week coaching the USA Cycling Talent ID Mountain Bike Camp. While there, she was asked a question by a young athlete that spurred this blog post. 
A young athlete asked me recently:
“So, do I just need to lay it all out there and go faster on the downhills?”
I thought to myself, pretty much, this is mountain biking after all. But I knew better than to just say that. This was a perfect coaching opportunity, to help her strive to her potential. And her question was loaded – requiring more than just a yes or no. She was tentative on the descents, coming in at the back of the pack during our single track session. Rather then letting her brakes go she would skid out on the loose scree, making it harder on herself and for anyone behind her.
“Well, were you out of your comfort zone?” I asked.
“Yes, all the time. It’s like I have two voices. One telling me I need to be careful, that I could hurt myself. The other tells me that it won’t be that bad and that I should hang it out there,” she responded.
mtMy suspicion is that she listened to the voice telling her to be careful more often then not. So much so that she was limiting her potential.
“Have you hurt yourself going downhill?”
“I have crashed a couple of times. But nothing really serious like some of the other girls.”
Our conversation continued and I asked more questions, trying to get a sense of what really was behind her first question. Being a young athlete, whether in actual age or new to the sport, can be humbling. Sure you may have surpassed your friends that recreationally dabbled in the cycling, which quite honestly, is most people. But once you put yourself in an environment where you really see how you stack up against your peers and come in the back of the pack, you feel like you’re back to square one. The skills you mastered to get ahead of most people are just the tip of the iceberg and an eye opening experience.
When you’re faced with the reality of whether or not you want to take your sport to the next level, do you embrace it and strive to go further? Or are you comfortable with staying right where you are? Coming to terms and asking ourselves this question is something we all must ask ourselves in our journey as athletes.
In a sport with great risk for injury and potentially death, this risk factor is the unspoken language we all feel. Do we sit comfortably on our couch and hope we don’t die from boredom or do we get out and live? And if we choose to live, how do we manage those fears that keep us from living the lives we truly want to live? Or to be the athlete we want to be?
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June Coaching Special! Join ALP Cycles Coaching and we’ll waive your start-up fee- a $75 value. When you’re an ALP Cycles athlete you get to ride with your coach, receive feedback on every workout and race, and learn race tactics by some of the best bike racers in the country.  ALP Cycles Coaching takes the care needed to develop each person into the best cyclist they can be.  http://alpcyclescoaching.com/coaching.php

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As an athlete, I’ve found positive self-talk keep those doubtful monsters at bay. I’ve found what works for me of when and how to use it, especially when I’m out of my comfort zone. It could be when you’re climbing, descending, cornering, in a pack, out in the wilderness on single track – where ever you find yourself listening to the battle between those little voices in your head. As rational as they may seem at times, you will at some point need to turn them off and just move your body.
Back to that young athlete…
Tonight, before you go to bed, visualize yourself going downhill and pushing yourself. Not the self you are now, but the self you want to be. And tell yourself that you are better, faster, stronger. The dream downhill descender. See yourself practicing perfectly, floating above obstacles, looking to where you want to be, moving effortlessly. The more you can practice in your mind, the more you can apply it to the trail.”
IMG_4442She was quiet, I could tell she was thinking about something. I let it sink in and then added, “Practice in your mind how you want to perform and the rest will follow. Cycling is about the process.”

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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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Importance of Recovery

By Swiss Miss and ALP Coach Patricia Schwager

How seriously are you taking recovery? Are you doing enough to recover from training and racing? A lot of athletes

underestimate the need for recovery and the power of recovery.

First important thing to do is cooling-down. Make sure you are doing a cool-down after finishing a race. No matter how good or bad the race went, spin out your legs for 15 to 20min.

Ride at an easy pace and spin your legs during the last 10-15min of your training sessions. This is the first step to start with your recovery and it has an influence on how you will feel the next day.

After you finished your training or race, eat and/ or drink something easy digestible. Getting the necessary nutrients into your body within the first 30min of finishing your training or race is essential to recovery.

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A recovery drink or a snack like a sandwich for example, are fast and easy options. You could prepare some recovery food before you head out for training or racing.

Make sure to eat/drink something with simple carbohydrates and a little protein- more protein and less carbohydrate if you are a woman.

After that, you should eat a normal meal within 2hrs after your race or training ride. Balance the calories you expended during the day of racing/ training with the calories consumed the rest of the day. Your nutrition will help you recover from the day and feel better

 

 

 

Other things to help with your recovery are:

-stretching

-foam rolling

-massage

-ice bath or another technic is doing hot/cold bath intervals

-wearing compressions socks or tights

-eat right

-listen to your body- means don’t overdo it with training/racing/working

-sleep

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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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Getting enough sleep is very important and a key factor for effective training and recovery. Taking a nap after a hard training is the best you can do for recovery. Even if you just get to sit down and relax for 20min, this already helps in your recovery.

It isn’t a good idea to rush right away to the next thing on your to-do-list after completing your training ride. In that case you better shorten your training to have a little less stress and more time to recover.

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Of course for many who lead busy lives and have cycling as a hobby it is hard to find enough time for recovery. Think about how you can fit life around riding and recovery and less about how to fit every free minute into training around work.

Talk to your coach about your work and life schedule. For us coaches at ALP Cycles Coaching, it is very important to include these facts into planning. We will work out a training plan that fits with your life instead just fits with the calendar.

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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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What about an active recovery ride?

Spinning your legs on a rest day is a good idea. Ride at low- intensity on flat terrain or trainer/rollers and use a light gear. Make sure you just put minimal pressure on your pedals. Active recovery boosts blood circulation, which removes lactic acid from your muscles- helping facilitate recovery faster. However, this only counts as long as you keep your ride very easy. If you are going too hard on an active recovery day, then it doesn’t do anything for your recovery. This is because, as soon as you push harder and raise your heart rate you don’t ride in the recovery zone anymore and the adaptions you would get from recovery aren’t taking place.

Days off: don’t be afraid of taking a day completely off. If your coach is giving you a day off it has its reason- so enjoy that extra rest! Go hard on the hard days- take it very easy on the easy days.

Tips for Becoming a Better Climber

By USAC Level 2 and TrainingPeaks Level 1 certified ALP Coach Alison Powers

Climbing. People think it’s this magical thing that only lucky or skinny people can do. This is a misnomer. Anyone can climb. Anyone who likes to ride a bike, can ride it up a hill.

Yes, riding up a hill is harder than riding on the flats due to having to do the opposite direction of gravity. Fighting gravity requires more effort, more leg strength, more fitness, and more stamina- both mental and physical. However, there are a few things you can do and techniques you can learn to make climbing feel easier, more efficient, and be more enjoyable.

1) Climb- as silly as it sounds, it’s true- the more you climb, the better you get at it. You’ll learn to relax when climbing, your legs will get stronger, and your fitness will improve.

FullSizeRender (6)2) Learn to climb out of the saddle- being able to climb both seated and standing gives you a chance to change positions, use different muscles, and it’s breaks the climb up. Often times, people stay seated for the duration of the climb. They think that if they stand it will make them more tired. This is true if you accelerate when you stand. Any time you accelerate, you will make yourself more tired. The secret to standing and pedaling is shifting into 1 (or 2) harder gear(s) before standing. This way, once standing, you maintain constant speed and are able to use your body weight to push down the pedals.

3) Change positions- This idea not only applies to climbing in and out of the saddle, but also to hand positions. Our road bikes have three different hand locations (hoods, tops, drops), use them. You don’t have to stay still when climbing.

4) Change cadence- just like standing when climbing, being able to push both a big gear and spin a small gear helps climbs go by more quickly. The idea is to change up what you are doing to recruit different muscles and/or energy systems throughout the duration of the climb.

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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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5) Pacing- the longer the climb, the more aware of your pacing you will need to be. The goal when tackling a climb should be to start a little conservatively, so you can continue to climb strongly and finish strong. Avoid starting too hard, and then slowing down and becoming more and more tired as the climb goes on.

6) Be Ok with being uncomfortable- climbing is harder than riding on the flats due to fighting gravity. Fighting gravity requires more effort, more leg strength, more fitness, and more stamina- both mental and physical. This means it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be uncomfortable and that’s ok. It’s OK for your legs to hurt a little bit and it’s OK to be breathing hard.

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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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mini pony Good luck, work hard, and climb away!

Time Trial- How To

Last week, we had our monthly ALP Ride. The goal of this month’s ride was to not only pre ride the Haystack Time Trial Course near Boulder, Colorado- but to dial in our time trailing strategy so no matter what the course, our ALP athletes would know how to look at the course and come up with their own individual race plans.
Alison_Powers_National_Championship_TT_ImageCurrent National Time Trial Champion (for one more day), and ALP Coach Alison Powers lead the ride and talked about the key elements of Time Trialling. These elements included-
1- How to look at a course and break it into sections- then create a plan for each section
2- How to carry your speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners
3- How to create speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners
4- Being aerodynamic while limiting movement and staying relaxed.
We analyzed the course, came up with a race plan, and tackled each section with 100% effort. We brought out the GoPro so our ALP athletes could see how they look on their bikes while going hard. Post ride, we analyzed things such as- does the athlete stay aero dynamic, where is their head position, and how much movement do they have when riding?
Here, USAC Level 1 and ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp, goes into more detail with tips you can do to dial in your own time trialling and go faster than ever.
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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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Time trials are the purest of all bike races. It’s you against the clock; where your legs do the talking. It sounds simple in theory – the fastest person wins. But it’s far from the easiest discipline. Time trials are a true test of not only physical but mental fitness. Below you’ll find some tips that will help you in your next time trial.
1. Dial in your equipment. Preferably, several weeks before your race. Showing up to a time trial with a bike for the first time without any saddle time can spell disaster. If you can, get a professional bike fitter to assist you in dialing in your position. The shorter the TT, the more aerodynamic you’ll want to be. Equipment also includes race wheels and a rear disc, aero helmets, booties, skin suits, etc. If you have long hair, put it in a bun and tuck it inside of your helmet or braid it. If your time trial is under an hour, take off your water bottle cage.
 
2. Practice, practice, practice. Once you’ve dialed in your equipment and position, you must practice being in the aerodynamic position. It will take your body a little while to adapt to this position, and riding your time trial bike in the aero position is the best way to do this.
3. Cornering. You can’t win a time trial by cornering, but you can lose it in the corners by dumping your bike, over-braking or going off course. Practice corners and 180 degree turnarounds. It’s okay to come out of the aero bars to navigate a corner. Just get back up to speed and into your bars as quickly as possible.
4. Limit your movement. Meaning, don’t look down at your computer, back behind you, in front of you and repeat. Keep your eyes forward, neck turtled, and arms in the aero bars. Additional movement creates drag and extra drag slows you down. Your legs should be moving and that’s it.
5. Pre-ride the course. If you can pre-ride the course a week or more before, do it. Practice key sections and time yourself so you know how hard you need to push it during each part. Memorize sections so you know how much further you have until the finish. Visualize the course before you go to bed each night, practicing key sections in your head.
 
6. Time trial is about what happens between the ears. Positive self talk is critical to your success. Coming up with a mantra in practice will help you during a race. Alison came up with a great one, printed on the collar of every ALP Cycles Coaching jersey: Better. Stronger. Faster.

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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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Have any tips you’d like to share? Please use the comment section below.
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