Profile cover photo
Profile photo
The Sport Factory
11 followers
11 followers
About
Posts

Post has attachment
HOW TO ADDRESS CYCLING KNEE PAIN

Knee pain is one of the more common issues cyclists face once they proceed from the recreational level to regular riding. Knee pain with cyclists can be a tricky thing to address as it is hard to narrow down the root cause. The foremost cause is an improper fit. Many cyclist begin to ramp up their riding with no fit at all; they adjust to whatever position the bike is in or make adjustments based on look/feel. This can result in a position that is not even close to one optimized for longer rides and improved leverage. A seat that is too high, low, forward, or aft can all cause various knee issues. Getting professionally fitted by a trained and experience fitter is a great place to start; preferably a SICI licensed fitter.

The second challenge with narrowing down the root cause is that is may not be necessarily a fit issue but a biomechanical one. For instance if the rider has a pre-existing meniscal tear cycling could be aggravating it. There may be adjustments that will reduce stress on the area but it can be rather hit or miss without knowing what you are dealing with. That is why I like to start with a diagnosis from an Orthopedist, especially in the case of sharp/severe pain and swelling. If you do have a knee injury such as bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, etc., time off will generally tell you if the bike is aggravating it. Once we know what is going on biomechanically there are a variety of adjustments to take stress off of a particular area we can attempt.

Addressing the foot/pedal interface can have a drastic impact on alleviating knee pain- sometimes entirely and in a short period of time. There are five different adjustments that can be made at the foot/pedal interface. Adjusting stance with or Q factor, varus/valgus, fore/after and lateral position and float all affect the stress on various parts of the knee. Shims can compensate for leg length discrepancies but it is important to identify whether the cyclists has an actual or apparent leg length discrepancy. There is a wide range of arch types from high and stiff arches to very flat or "collapsed" arches. Varus/valgus adjustment through wedges or foot beds can limit medially/lateral motion of the knee and improve power by putting more force on the pedal spindle. It is important to note that any force or motion that is not being directed to the pedals is wasted energy, although there does need to be some motion to allow for natural biomechanics.

I find that if a seat is too high the cyclist will generally notice it as they feel like they are reaching for the pedals. I am amazed at how low a person can ride without noticing that something is wrong. A saddle that is too low saps power but also increased force on the knees, especially the front of the knee. Riders are sometimes amazed at how much better they are able to climb with a proper knee angle set. Generally a seat that is too far forward will produce anterior (front) knee stress, and one that is too far back posterior (back) knee stress.

Note that a fitter that is not trained in medicine should not be diagnosing a knee problem. Conversely a medical professional that is not trained in various fit methodologies, types of equipment, and bicycles in general should not being giving arm chair fit recommendations. Beyond the fit the rider must be in the right shoes, on the right size frame, and even on the right saddle. A good fitter has extensive knowledge in these areas and can help the cyclist in equipment selection. In a perfect setting the fitter would have experience in both backgrounds but that can be hard to find. Good communication between the medical professional and the fitter is the next best thing.
Photo
Add a comment...

For Cycling Safety Assess Your Risk Tolerance

I drive a motorcycle; and yes, it is a fast one. I have been driving motorcycles for over 20 years. People often ask me if I feel unsafe on it, or why I take such excessive risk. My answer is always the same- I feel much safer commuting to work on my motorcycle than I do my bicycle (I often alternate between the two). Why you may ask? On my motorcycle I am more visible, I try to stay aware of my what is around me 360 degrees at all times, and I can react quickly to the changing environment. On my bike I feel like I am just waiting for some inattentive driver to come up from behind me and take me out. I am not riding in traffic so much as impeding it.

When I began driving a motorcycle many years ago a friend of mine suggested I review the Hurt report. Ironically is was a study done in the early 80's by Professor Harry Hurt, compiling data on over 900 accidents and 3600 police reports. In reading the 50 point summary I realized there were substantial ways in which to statistically reduce my accident risk, some of them so very elementary if not common sense such as wearing a helmet and proper riding gear. There are absolutely no guarantees that I will not one day be involved in an accident, perhaps a serious one, but in properly assessing and addressing the major risk factors I can substantially reduce my chances of it.

I find in general that cyclists do a very poor job of assessing their risk and often pay the price for it. The first thing a cyclists should understand is that there IS substantial risk involved with cycling. 68% of cycling fatalities occur in urban areas, 22% occur between 6 and 8:59pm, and 29% are hit by a car according to a NHTSA report. Here in Atlanta where I live most weekday group rides occur in heavy traffic between these hours. At dusk cyclists are less visible and you can also surmise that at the end of the day drivers are tired, less attentive, and are more likely to have consumed alcohol. As a cyclists you have the make a personal decision and weigh the higher risk of cycling in these conditions against the reward. Do not conclude that riding in a group is "safe." It may be slightly safer due to the increased visibility of the group, but there is also the increased hazard of bike on bike collision, falling, and/or rider error which accounts for another 37% of bicycle accidents. I personally believe that most cyclists are unaware just how much danger they are in, and are often surprised when an accident does occur. And in my experience it is rare to encounter a cyclist (in my area) that has ridden consistently for over 10 years without incurring an accident that requires medical treatment (myself included).

When riding my motorcycle I have my head on a swivel and I try to stay aware of all the vehicles around me. I never ride when I am over-tired, have consumed alcohol, and avoid riding in the dark or in bad weather. I also maintain a very respectful distance from vehicles, always assuming enough room to brake in an emergency. Riding my motorcycle requires a heightened state of awareness when compared to driving my car, and I try to adopt a similar sense when commuting on my bicycle. Yet I often observe cyclists riding in close proximity, side by side, chatting it up in dense traffic blissfully unaware of the danger around them. Just being attentive, riding single file, and leaving enough room to brake in an emergency greatly reduces your risk. Visibility substantially reduces the risk of a motorcycle crash according to the hurt report, and motorcycles are much more visible (and loud) compared to a bicycle that is in the peripheral vision or blind spot. Yet even with the invent of highly visible, cheap LED bike lights I see (or don't see) the majority of cyclists still without them. These should be required for organized rides in my opinion.

More than half of motorcycle accidents involve riders with less than 5 months experience and an even greater preponderance are self taught with little skill in cornering, braking, and avoidance. Cycling as a recreational activity continues to grow yet most cyclists do not know the basics of bike handling and safety. For instance, when I ask which brake to apply more force to- front, rear, or both evenly, most cyclists reply "rear." In fact slightly more force should be applied to the front while moving the center of gravity/weight towards the rear of the bike. Learning and practicing this skill set alone can help you avoid a collision and stop shorter. Being able to look over the left shoulder while keeping the bike on a straight trajectory, un-clipping from the pedals without falling over, and basic maintenance (which causes a small number of crashes) are all proficiencies a cyclist should possess before attempting a group ride, or even solo ride in traffic. It is important to note that the people you ride with factor into your own safety as well.

The Hurt report was ground breaking because it was the first large scale compilation of motorcycle accident and fatality data. I could not find any similar report for bicycling but there are a lot of parallels between motorcycle safety and bicycle safety as they are both higher risk transportation. With a rise in cycling fatalities and also a rise in cyclists on the road, I think it is important for each cyclists to not only to accept the risk involved, but also to understand how to diminish it. Yes, you have a right to be on the road, even two abreast. Yes there is tension, sometimes even rage between motor vehicles and cyclists. Yes drivers are less attentive and often do not consider cyclists safety. But understanding these things does not make you any safer. What WILL make you safer is understanding the specific risk factors of cycling- and reducing them.
Add a comment...

HOW TEAM DYNAMICS AFFECT INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE

By Coach Matt Russ

When I began coaching individual athletes almost twenty years ago, I had a somewhat simplistic perspective on what was required to achieve peak performance. I believed that with the proper training plan and the right athlete, great things would happen when these two elements come together. It was up to the athlete to bring the motivation to the table and the coach to drive the bus. Although there may be a lot of truth to this, what motivates an athlete, and keeps them motivated, is more complex than this model. Recognizing this has helped me adopt a more flexible strategy over the years and pull the extra “x” percent out of my athletes that is often the difference between a podium or PR.

On the surface group training can be a detrimental. The first rule of training is specificity; you don’t improve your individual performance by training randomly. An athlete’s training must not only be highly specific to their sport, but also highly specific to their individual needs. This is critically important in the case of endurance sports where the athlete is moreover competing against a clock and/or themselves vs. the other athletes on the field. Group training does not meet these requirements. I have referred to group training as the “communism” of training in which the best athletes are held back and few are elevated. It can be a mish mash of intensities, often dictated by the fastest members of the group that are not working nearly as hard as those attempting to keep up. There is no specific outcome goal or objective, or individual pace, speed, power, or interval time to target. It is often too fast, too hard, and too much. And if incorporated too frequently, it may then leave the athlete chronically over reached and in some cases over trained. Why would any athlete or coach incorporate this type of training? Because it can be a powerful tool if used skillfully and prescriptively.

An athlete’s motivations are complex and individual. Motivation is often regarded as a “you either have it or you don’t” component of training, but in fact motivation ebbs and flows with a wide variety of factors. Many athletes love to race and regard racing as the reward for hard training. But what happens when the race season ends, the days get shorter, darker, and colder? This period frequently referred to as the “off” season may be the difference between spending the proceeding season rebuilding fitness, or building upon it. Keeping athletes motivated and engaged through this period, while giving them a sufficient mental and physical break from highly specified training, can be a real challenge. This is precisely where group training and utilizing positive team dynamics may be most useful.

Even the “lone wolf” athletes cannot perform in a social vacuum; let’s go ahead and dissolve that myth. We race only with the ingredients of competition, spectators, support, and recognition of accomplishment. Socialization is a human requirement, and we tend to socialize with those of similar interests and perspectives. When I ask some of our athletes what they enjoy most about our work outs it is not the work itself; it is often the social aspects that go with them. Meeting for coffee after the work out, humor, interaction with the opposite sex, games, and esprit de corps may be what gets them out of bed and on their trainer at 5am.. When you consider that consistency is the second most important element of training, socialization may be what is missing from your training plan.

The real challenge is balancing the key elements of proper training with meeting social needs. A great place to begin is with the format or mode of the workout itself. For example: a two hour stationary trainer work out targeting the aerobic energy system, on the athletes own bike, is more specific to cycling endurance when compared to a general fitness spin class of one hour with a variety of intensities (and push-ups on the handlebars). In the former, each athlete is working individually within their own performance envelope while targeting a specific energy system. By carefully planning these work outs the third element of training, progression, is incorporated. Now we have the most important elements of training being addressed: specificity, consistency, and progression in a social setting. This model can just as easily be applied to running and swimming work outs with the proper planning. Although this is not rocket science, the planning and structure of individual work outs over time is at the very core of improving performance. The most sport specific group training will be the most productive for you if incorporated at the right time and in the right quantity.

The larger the group or team is, the more difficult it becomes to accomplish objectives. This is well known in the military and business world in which large groups are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until you get to the “squad” or “business unit” level-- where things are actually accomplished. If you have a group (team) of 10 cyclists that are relatively matched in fitness capacity, a training ride with a specific objective is relatively easy to accomplish. Multiply that to 100 cyclists and you have the 10 on the front working relatively consistently, whereas the accordion effect on the back produces a maddening stop and go work out. Not to mention the number of lost athletes, flats, and general chaos increases exponentially.

For this reason breaking your team into smaller units, with team leaders, is the way to go. It also helps alleviate your faster athletes frustration, while developing your newbies without turning them off. Each team leader should have a detailed plan for the work out in advance-- and should not be planning it on the fly. I often give my athletes specific parameters or objectives to be performed within our group work outs. Coaches should not be afraid of group training unless the athlete cannot comply with their work out objectives. Often the competitive stimulus is hard to overcome; but if you know in advance the typical tempo or pace of a group work out you can plan around it and adjust volume accordingly.

I have used the terms “group” and “team” training interchangeably, but there is a difference. Belonging to a team means something. The athlete is contributing to the whole while being supported, and has a sense of competitive pride. It is important to define the values your team stands for, and standards for your team members to uphold. There is an energy that each team member brings, and that energy can be positive or negative. Each team member has the ability to elevate those around them or bring them down. How you manage your team and team members will ultimately reflect upon your success as a team.

By addressing the needs of the individual and the team you can create an environment in which athletes thrive. It requires a lot of work to develop a team, and it cannot be done by one leader dictating from the top down. It necessitates developing leaders and leadership skills. It requires a lot of work to develop an individual, and it cannot be done by one coach dictating work outs to an athlete training in a vacuum. I have witnessed amazing things happen when the two elements of team and individual are merged.
Add a comment...

FOR CYCLING SAFETY ASSESS AND ADDRESS YOUR RISK

I drive a motorcycle; and yes, it is a fast one. I have been driving motorcycles for over 20 years. People often ask me if I feel unsafe on it, or why I take such excessive risk. My answer is always the same- I feel much safer commuting to work on my motorcycle than I do my bicycle (I often alternate between the two). Why you may ask? On my motorcycle I am more visible, I try to stay aware of my what is around me 360 degrees at all times, and I can react quickly to the changing environment. On my bike I feel like I am just waiting for some inattentive driver to come up from behind me and take me out. I am not riding in traffic so much as impeding it.

When I began driving a motorcycle many years ago a friend of mine suggested I review the Hurt report. Ironically is was a study done in the early 80's by Professor Harry Hurt, compiling data on over 900 accidents and 3600 police reports. In reading the 50 point summary I realized there were substantial ways in which to statistically reduce my accident risk, some of them so very elementary if not common sense such as wearing a helmet and proper riding gear. There are absolutely no guarantees that I will not one day be involved in an accident, perhaps a serious one, but in properly assessing and addressing the major risk factors I can substantially reduce my chances of it.

I find in general that cyclists do a very poor job of assessing their risk and often pay the price for it. The first thing a cyclists should understand is that there IS substantial risk involved with cycling. 68% of cycling fatalities occur in urban areas, 22% occur between 6 and 8:59pm, and 29% are hit by a car according to a NHTSA report. Here in Atlanta where I live most weekday group rides occur in heavy traffic between these hours. At dusk cyclists are less visible and you can also surmise that at the end of the day drivers are tired, less attentive, and are more likely to have consumed alcohol. As a cyclists you have the make a personal decision and weigh the higher risk of cycling in these conditions against the reward. Do not conclude that riding in a group is "safe." It may be slightly safer due to the increased visibility of the group, but there is also the increased hazard of bike on bike collision, falling, and/or rider error which accounts for another 37% of bicycle accidents. I personally believe that most cyclists are unaware just how much danger they are in, and are often surprised when an accident does occur. And in my experience it is rare to encounter a cyclist (in my area) that has ridden consistently for over 10 years without incurring an accident that requires medical treatment (myself included).

When riding my motorcycle I have my head on a swivel and I try to stay aware of all the vehicles around me. I never ride when I am over-tired, have consumed alcohol, and avoid riding in the dark or in bad weather. I also maintain a very respectful distance from vehicles, always assuming enough room to brake in an emergency. Riding my motorcycle requires a heightened state of awareness when compared to driving my car, and I try to adopt a similar sense when commuting on my bicycle. Yet I often observe cyclists riding in close proximity, side by side, chatting it up in dense traffic blissfully unaware of the danger around them. Just being attentive, riding single file, and leaving enough room to brake in an emergency greatly reduces your risk. Visibility substantially reduces the risk of a motorcycle crash according to the hurt report, and motorcycles are much more visible (and loud) compared to a bicycle that is in the peripheral vision or blind spot. Yet even with the invent of highly visible, cheap LED bike lights I see (or don't see) the majority of cyclists still without them. These should be required for organized rides in my opinion.

More than half of motorcycle accidents involve riders with less than 5 months experience and an even greater preponderance are self taught with little skill in cornering, braking, and avoidance. Cycling as a recreational activity continues to grow yet most cyclists do not know the basics of bike handling and safety. For instance, when I ask which brake to apply more force to- front, rear, or both evenly, most cyclists reply "rear." In fact slightly more force should be applied to the front while moving the center of gravity/weight towards the rear of the bike. Learning and practicing this skill set alone can help you avoid a collision and stop shorter. Being able to look over the left shoulder while keeping the bike on a straight trajectory, un-clipping from the pedals without falling over, and basic maintenance (which causes a small number of crashes) are all proficiencies a cyclist should possess before attempting a group ride, or even solo ride in traffic. It is important to note that the people you ride with factor into your own safety as well.

The Hurt report was ground breaking because it was the first large scale compilation of motorcycle accident and fatality data. I could not find any similar report for bicycling but there are a lot of parallels between motorcycle safety and bicycle safety as they are both higher risk transportation. With a rise in cycling fatalities and also a rise in cyclists on the road, I think it is important for each cyclists to not only to accept the risk involved, but also to understand how to diminish it. Yes, you have a right to be on the road, even two abreast. Yes there is tension, sometimes even rage between motor vehicles and cyclists. Yes drivers are less attentive and often do not consider cyclists safety. But understanding these things does not make you any safer. What WILL make you safer is understanding the specific risk factors of cycling- and reducing them.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment

SHOULD I BUY A POWER METER?

by Coach Matt Russ

“Should I buy a power meter?” is one of the more common questions I get from our athletes, followed by “which one?” Although I believe training with power does offer a significant advantages in training accuracy and analysis, I also recognize that it is not for everyone. There are some key questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a power meter.

What is your budget? Power meters are expensive and there are not a lot of viable options under $1000. Many athletes are waiting (and have been waiting) for power meters to come down in price; however, I don't foresee a major drop in price any time soon until more competition is introduced into the market. There are some new options in various stages of development but right now the major brands (Power Tap, Stages, Pioneer, SRM) each have a fairly established niche or price point. For now, your budget largely dictates the power meter you will be able to purchase. Each power meter has its pros and cons but the more expensive models do have specific benefits. A good place to start is determining what you are willing to spend.

What is your technical aptitude? For some athletes a power meter will simply be a more expensive bike computer. Unless you are willing to take the time to learn the device, its use, and function, it will be of little value to you. If you are not technically-minded and have trouble working your cell phone, a power meter may not be a good purchase. Power training technology, like any other complex technology, has become more complex as features are added. The rewards are there, but only if the complexity does not drive you nuts first. On the coaching side we charge more for power training due to the additional time it takes in analysis and technical support. A good place to start is by reading the book “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggin. If you can not make it through Chapter One, I would suggest either hiring a coach to help you in handling a power-based training plan design and analysis, or, perhaps, saving your money.

Which device? As I stated, all power meters have their pros and cons. I do believe that a triathlete, or any athlete using multiple wheelsets, is best served by a bottom bracket-based power meter such as an SRM or Ergomo. There is a significant difference in price between a Power Tap and SRM, and you would need to purchase two Power Tap wheels; one for training and one for racing, in order to get the same value of both training and racing with a power meter. Unfortunately, the expensive carbon race wheels are not designed for everyday use; thus, the need for a training Power Tap. However, even with two Power Taps you are in the same ballpark price-wise (or under) the price of an SRM. One major advantage Power Tap has introduced is the wireless model. Wires and connectors get damaged with use; period. Eliminating them is a major step forward in technology. The bottom bracket-based Ergomo has a price point that is right in between the Power Tap and SRM, however there have been issues with the US distributer and service and support of the device in the past. Power Tap and SRM both have excellent customer and technical support departments, good warranties, and a quick turn-around on service. For a highly technical device, I believe this is a very important selling point.

What about a Computrainer or 300PT indoor cycle? Both the Computrainer and Cycleops 300PT are good power training options. However, I put these two options in a different category as you can not train outdoors or race with them. The Computrainer is a great option if you spend a lot of time indoors on your trainer. Not only do you get power data, but there are a variety of software options that allow you to ride various race courses, analyze your pedal stroke, and even create your own courses using a GPS device. The Cycleops 300PT is a very high quality indoor cycle that incorporates a power meter. It is solid, simple, and allows you to adjust it to the same fit specifications as most bikes. The 300PT head unit is fully uploadable and is almost identical to a Power Tap head unit. Both of these devices allow you to train with power and are high quality; however, if you are looking for full-time power training / race data, I do not recommend them.
How will a power meter help my training and racing? A power meter will NOT make you a better cyclist. It is an instrument and a data recorder and does not power the bike. The two main advantages to a power meter are that it acts as a “carrot” to help push you to new levels and serves as a tool for analysis of training efficacy; or lack thereof. The “carrot” is knowing what your current power levels are; and then trying to beat them. I believe this may pull that extra 5-10% out of you that heart rate or RPE (Register of Perceived Exertion) training will not. It gives you real time feedback on how hard you are actually working. It can be used as a valuable pacing tool for a wide variety of event types and distances. For sports such as mountain biking or cyclocross, it is a good analysis tool but not as useful for training or racing outdoors due to the nature of these sports.
Using a power meter every second of every ride offers data points for analysis. By plotting them and tracking them over time you will see the trends in your power throughout the season and from season to season. If all is going well, you will see a slow steady increase in your various power levels. Nothing motivates like progress and a power meter definitely indicates how well your training is progressing. There are also a great many ways to analyze power training beyond simple power increase over time. Training Stress Score and Intensity Factor indicate how stressful or intensive a ride or race was in relation to your threshold power, or average sustainable power for one hour. Quadrant Analysis and Power Profiling help identify individual areas of strength or weakness. Chronic and Acute Training Loads chart reaction to training stress over time. Some of these concepts are complicated and may be beyond what the average cyclist is willing to learn and invest their time in. However, simply knowing your power capabilities is useful. For instance, if you know your power is generally “X” at “X” heart rate this information helps indicate overreaching within your training cycle. If your wattage is particularly low on a given day or you have trouble achieving a desired wattage level, it is a simple indication that you may need a day of rest. This more than anything can drastically affect the efficacy of your training plan.

A power meter is also an effective pacing tool. You can more effectively gauge your energy output and learn how to conserve it. You can also use a power meter as a tool for fit adjustment and equipment change by analyzing how changes affect power output at a particular heart rate level.

Once you have purchased a power meter, be patient and take the time to learn its functions. That means breaking out the user manual, learning to calibrate it, and learning the various settings. Each device comes with proprietary software but there are also options such as Training Peaks or WKO for more detailed analysis. The more you learn about power training, the more value you will get out of your investment.
Add a comment...

CYCLING SAFETY IN NUMBERS

By Matt Russ

Cycling in a group may increase your safety or detract from it. This largely is predicated on the behavior and experience of the group members. If you are leading a group ride, you have a direct impact on your group members' safety and security; a responsibility that should be taken seriously. The risks are compounded if you are riding in an area that has heavy traffic. As a sport, cycling has the second highest incidence of injury. Many of these are serious or even catastrophic. The good news is with a little awareness, practice, and plain old common sense, you can greatly reduce the risk to yourself and those you ride with.

There are some steps you should take before the rubber meets the road. Start by making sure everyone's bicycle is in proper working order. There is usually one person in the group who is mechanically inclined and apt to help others with their equipment. Designate this person as your team mechanic and have them give a quick visual inspection to the group members' bicycles. Tires should especially be checked for wear, cracks, cuts, and road debris. Make sure everyone has a flat kit and inflation system, cell phone, food and water, helmet and eye protection, and that their tires are properly inflated. At least one person should carry a small first aid kit. Hopefully everyone in group can change a tube but that is usually not the case. At least one person should be proficient at changing flats. Discuss the route you will take, the traffic patterns, areas of danger, and rules of the road. If the route is complex, a map is a great idea. Designate one member as the group leader who will lead the ride.

Once you are rolling your exposure to danger increases and so should your awareness. The following will help you stay upright and safe.


Can the Chatter

You probably enjoy the social aspects of training with others but this reduces your level of alertness. You have to be acutely aware of what is going on around you once on the road. Catch up with your friends before the ride or grab a drink after. If you are riding in areas with heavy traffic, you need to pay attention to the road; even more so than you would when driving your car. You must be on the lookout for road obstacles and debris, dogs, your fellow cyclists, as well as traffic. You are also not as visible to inattentive drivers. Remember that your bicycle does not have seatbelts, airbags, or crash protection.


Single File, Please

Many cyclists enjoy riding side by side so that they can converse during their ride. Not only does this pose a danger to themselves, it can cause traffic to veer even deeper into the oncoming lane. It also causes bad blood between cyclists and motorists. Although it may be legal in your area to ride in tandem, avoid disrupting the flow of traffic if at all possible. No one likes to be late for work.

Signal

If you are the ride leader it is important to let your fellow cyclists know your intentions via hand signals. Road debris can cause a safety issue. You can indicate a pothole, glass, or other hazard by pointing to the road towards the hazard (left or right). If you are stopping, extend your left arm downward at a 45 degree angle with the palm of your hand facing towards the rear. The hand signals for turns are a straight and horizontal left arm for a left turn and a raised left arm, elbow bent 90 degrees and hand up for right. I have found, however, that most people do not know what the right turn signal means, and this can put you in danger. When signaling in traffic I point in the direction I am turning (left or right arm), finger extended, and move my hand up and down. Make sure everyone in your ride group knows what these hand signals mean.

Speak

If a car is approaching from the rear, call out car back. If a car is approaching from the front, call out car up. If you see glass in the road, point and call out glass, or bump, dog, etc.. If you are stopping, call out stopping. One word of caution when calling out clear is that it may be clear when you begin to cross the intersection but this can quickly change as a car approaches at 50 mph. This means that the person behind you who took your clear at face value is now heading in front of a moving vehicle. For this reason, I avoid calling out clear and advise each cyclist to stop and cross when they see that the intersection is safe and clear.

Etiquette

Keep a safe distance from the person in front of you, at least a bike length even when drafting. If you are on their rear tire, you will have almost no time to react if they stop or swerve suddenly and you may crash into them. Your visibility of road hazards is also reduced. Do not overlap a cyclists rear tire with your front tire. If they move quickly to avoid a road obstacle, their rear tire will strike your front tire sending you to the pavement very quickly and perhaps them as well. A cyclist's rear wheel is protected air space. Do not assume that that they want you back there. If you encounter another cyclist on the road, it is considered bad form to draft behind them without their consent. Either pass or drop back, but dont suck their wheel.

Pacing

Cyclists like to ride with other cyclists of similar fitness capacities, goals, and / or training objectives. This works well in small groups, but with each added cyclist the ego quotient can go up. If you are leading the ride, try to keep the pace steady and consistent. Take turns pulling or leading the group. Weaker riders may have a hard time in the front of the group and would be better served sitting farther back, whereas the stronger riders are more challenged leading. Keep your group together. If a cyclist is falling off the back, do not leave them. Stop at each intersection or turn and wait for them to catch up. If they are significantly slowing the group, politely explain to them at the end of the ride that they must keep pace next time. However, this in all likelihood will be self-evident. If a stronger rider is frustrated with a pace that is too slow, they can proceed ahead at their own pace and risk. Make sure they know they are now on their own. I have observed cyclists open a huge gap on the group only to miss the next turn. The group must chase them down in order to save them from being lost, and this does not build a lot of good will. Dont lead unless you know where you are going.

Overall, the larger the group, the harder it will be to please everyone. You may be better served riding in a small group of 4-6 like-minded cyclists. It is okay to be choosy with whom you ride. One bad apple can spoil the barrel, as they say.

There are a lot of dynamics that occur with group training. Each little peloton is unique. Some are very aggressive; blowing through stoplights and wagging the middle finger. Others are very safe and consciences. Realize that those you ride with have a direct impact on your safety. They are a reflection on you and the cycling community. Ultimately, your group will affect your longevity and enjoyment of cycling.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment

Post has attachment
RACING IN THE ZONE
 
The phrase in the zone is used a lot in sport, but what does it mean? My take is that it is a heightened sense of awareness in which the athlete is focused, performing optimally, and in tune with their body physically and mentally. In short, they are on top of their game. So how does one get into their zone during a triathlon?
 
There is only one optimal pace for each athlete; basically, the quickest means to get from point A to B. The first step is determining what that pace is. This is going to be predicated on your experience, knowledge of conditions, tactics, and, most importantly, training. Do not expect to race substantially faster than you have been training, as your fitness level will determine your pace and speed. Your pacing system may be based on your heart rate, power on the bike, or speed and it will vary with course, race length, and event type. Once you have your pacing strategy figured out, the most important thing is to adhere to it. Situations may arise that may cause you to adapt your pacing strategy, but if you are chasing down every athlete who passes you, you are off your game and into theirs. An athlete who is in the zone controls their own race.
 
Every athlete is nervous, excited, or mildly anxious before a race. An athlete that is in the zone knows how to mitigate this anxiety and use it to their advantage. They take some time to visualize their success, how the race will unfold, and practice transitions in their head. They control and channel this energy and put it to productive use. They stay positive and remove all self doubt or conflict.
 
Once the starting gun goes off, the zone athlete is on autopilot to some extent. They react but do not overreact. They keep their emotions at bay and are in the moment. They remain focused even if things do not go as planned and are intrepid and unshakable. There are numerous examples of athletes who have crashed or had a mechanical or some other mishap happen out of their control and go on to win the event.
 
During the race, the zone athlete follows a process. This means carefully monitoring heart rate, cadence, power, form, and nutrition to use the right amount of energy at the right time and not have anything left over at the finish line. Their economy does not fade as much as other athletes. I can often determine if my athlete stayed in the zone by their post race data. If it is very stochastic or faded on the run, I know they did not pace correctly, chased other athletes, or generally did not stay focused. The athlete in the zone moves quickly but methodically through transitions without fumbling. They do not forget to eat or drink, but fuel and hydrate precisely according to their plan.
 
Racing can be a very emotional experience but emotions can work against you, or even defeat you. It is a skill to channel your emotions and mental energy into speed. And, like any other skill, it must be learned and practiced. Successful athletes are very adept at using mental skills such as visualization and positive self-talk to put themselves ahead of the pack. This starts by identifying mental limiters just as you would your physical limiters and then converting the negative into a positive. Set a reasonable expectation level and measurable goals. It is okay to dream big but your goals should be specific, performance-related, and attainable. Create a race mantra for yourself to play over and over in your head. Consider the personal reasons you race, what drives you, and what your reward will be; then go doggedly pursue them. Another characteristic of successful athletes is that they enjoy racing and have fun. This perhaps is the greatest reward of all.
 
Matt Russ has coached and trained athletes up to the professional level, domestically and internationally, for over 20 years. He currently holds the highest level of licensing by both USA Triathlon and USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is Head Coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and coaches athletes of all levels full time. He is also free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites. Visit www.sportfactory.com for more information or email him at coachmatt@sportfactory.com
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
PROGRESSIVE, GRADUAL, AND QUANTIFIABLE- THE TRAINING PROCESS
 
By Matt Russ
 
Random training produces random results. You may get faster, you may get slower, or you may make no progress at all. In order to increase your fitness level a few basic and key elements need to be in place. These elements are crucial to your athletic success and should be considered in designing your plan. 
 
The first element is progression. Your body reacts to a stressor (work out), recovers and adapts to that stressor in the form of increased strength, speed, endurance, or power. If you apply the same stress load week after week you will not progress. This is intuitive in regards to endurance; you have to increase mileage or duration each week in order to get to your race goal. Strength, power, and speed work require a similar progression. You must add greater stress loads each week, and recover, in order to move forward. 
 
If you add too much stress too quickly, or with inadequate recovery, you will overload your system and degrade your performance rather than increase it. A gradual progression in stress load is the next key element. In considering weekly increase of total stress load or volume, try not to increase more than 10% with a goal of roughly 6-8%. Weekly volume includes intensity and duration. It is also important to note that an increase in intensity will require greater recovery time even if duration stays the same. As intensity comes up, volume should come down. This progression may seem slow, but even a 1% increase in fitness per week is enormous progress through a season. 
 
Lastly, quantify your training and progress. If your goal is simply to complete a race you need only to be concerned with endurance. A steady increase in duration or mileage will get you to your goal. Strength, speed, or power intervals should be similarly quantified. Each week gradually increase the number, duration, or intensity of your intervals. A coach can help you determine what workouts are best performed at what point in your season. Quantifiable results will motivate. Often athletes are unaware if they are making any progress at all. Make sure you write your plan down so you can see your progression. Monthly field tests are another way to quantify progress. After a rest day record your average heart rate, speed, and distance over a 30 minute time trial. Try to keep the test conditions consistent as much as possible.
 
Rest and recovery should be quantified as well. Make sure you reduce your volume every 4th week to ensure complete recovery both physically and mentally. Generally I do not train my athletes hard for more than 3 days in a row without a rest or recovery day. With multi-sport athletes the various demands of each sport can be used to balance your plan. An example would be swimming the day after a hard run to give your body a rest from impact. It is important to note that your body is weaker after a workout and only gets stronger if it recovers properly. Keep a log of your sleep, resting heart rate, and stress levels to indicate signs of overreaching or overtraining. Overloading is the normal training process. It simply means increasing the stress on your body to cause adaptation to the stress. It is typical to feel short term fatigue with overload. Overreaching occurs when you continue to train at abnormally high loads, or increase them for about 2 weeks. Performance now noticeably decreases and fatigue becomes longer lasting, but with a few days rest it is quickly reversible. If you ignore overreaching, you enter the third stage; overtraining which can take months to recover from. 
 
By incorporating these elements into your training plan you will not only get faster, you will reduce your risk of injury. I am often able to decrease athletes overall volume and produce greater results through more focused training and increased recovery. Remember to place a greater emphasis on quality of training versus quantity.
 
 
Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over twenty years. He achieved the highest levels of licensing by both USA Triathlon and USA Cycling (Elite), and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines such as Inside Triathlon, and Triathlete. Visit www.sportfactory.com for more information or email him at coachmatt@sportfactory.com
 
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded