Saturday, March 31, 2012


What a great week of "racing" at the Cycling Centre this week!    With the Track Cycling World Championships taking place April 4-8 in Melbourne, Australia I thought it would be fun to show our support by doing some racing inside at the Cycling Centre.  The goal was to have fun, but to also perform with some race nerves and start to get our competitive spirits fired up as we head in to race season, and to learn more about track cycling; especially with a world class velodrome being built just up the street from where we are now.

Canada has a shot at two medals at the London Olympics in the Omnium with 2 time World Champion Tara Whitten (pictured) and Zach Bell who won bronze at the test event in February.  We started off our week by also doing an Omnium of sorts, though instead of taking 2 days we raced all 6 events in 2 hours.  Winners were picked by who put their hands in the air first when the time was up and points were awarded based on finish results, just like the real deal!

There were 3 different groups who participated in the races and it was exciting to see how the competitiveness of the riders came out as they realized they were in the hunt for a medal.  The end results were all pretty close with the final time trial being the deciding factor in results - just like the pros!  We started with a flying lap (2 min of gradually building up speed with 13 seconds, or 250 meters, all out), then the points race (6 min with sprints every 2 min), elimination race (last one to put up their hands had to stop pedalling), individual pursuit (3:31 or 3 km at 95% effort for the women and 4:24 or 4 km for the men), scratch race (5 min effort), and finally the time trial (500 meters for the women or 34 sec. and a kilo or 1:03 for the men).  There was some smack talk, sportsmanship, cheering, focused looks of determination, and even some smiles.

Later in the week we did a sprint tournament, so much fun!  I think this might be my favourite workout of the whole season!

We drew cards to decide who would race against each other in the first rounds, the red card leading and the black following.  The rules were, the black card had to match the leg speed of the red card until the sprint was initiated.  Either rider could initiate the sprint.  Once the sprint was started, riders had to keep going all the way to the finish line.  The race was  2 min long and the sprint could go from the line for a maximum of 2 min (though no one tried this tactic), and had to be at least 10 sec. long.   Everyone got in to the competition, determined to advance to the next round and a chance at a medal, and the races were close.  Believe almost everyone posted personal bests for high cadence!

The winners were chosen by their peers based on who held their leg speed from beginning to end, if someone surprised their opponent with their jump, who had a better race face, and when we couldn't decide and had to go to a "photo finish" the riders played rock, paper, scissors to determine the winner.

There were some clever tactics, pairings trying to distract their competitors with cleavage and funky hair, taking advantage of a glance away, as well as great commentary and encouragement by those who were in between races.  Everyone did so well that they were all rewarded with stickers.  Can't wait until next year!

In the meantime, here is a video of Paul and Dale racing for the Bronze medal!

Monday, March 26, 2012


I recently purchased a new Contour camera and have been playing around with it - apparently I'm not the swiftest at figuring which lights mean it's recording and remembering to stop recording during the boring bits, but I did catch some of our ride on tape (oops, showing my age) this past week-end.

We warmed-up and cooled down as a group and then did some 500 meter sprints on a 2.5 km loop, so there was a nice long rest in between where some people remembered to change in to an easier gear and pedal over 94 rpm (stickers will be awarded!), and some reverted back to old habits, but I'm sure you'll be picking up the pace after a few more rides with me reminding you to "pick it up".

This was the first outdoor ride for many this season and it reminded us that riding on a trainer is very different then riding outside.  Although the power and the pedalling technique, and the gains in aerobic endurance transfer over, the feeling of the wind, the rough pavement, the hills, the ability to rock the bike, are all things we need to get used to again.

Although many reverted back to old habits, it didn't take long to incorporate what you've learned this winter on to the road and the sprints that we've been doing inside with all the gear changing were a warm up to what we did outside.

So here are the key points:
* Keep your cadence over 94 - or aim for 100 rpm - when conserving energy
* Listen to your legs as to when you should change gears, when it gets too hard - shift, when it gets to easy - shift.  By listening to your legs, rather then anticipating what the road ahead will be like (i.e.: you see a hill and shift immediately in to your easiest gear losing all your speed), you will be more efficient and your momentum will continue to move you forward.
* When producing maximum power slide your bum back in the saddle, arch your back a bit, hands in the drops, elbows in, body low, and push forward with your feet.  There was a great shot from Ghent-Wevelgem this past week-end of a rider going up one of the 17% grade hills and from the front I could see the entire sole of his shoe as he "pushed" forward with his feet looking to power over the hill.  So flatten out the feet, heels down, and push forward rather then down.

So without further ado, here is the video I made from our ride this past week-end.  I promise the shooting and editing can only get better!


A calendar has been created so that you can stay up to date on everything that is happening with the Cycling Centre - want to know if we are inside or out, where we are meeting, what kinds of fun and games we are going to have inside? Check the calendar. Here is the link, be sure to bookmark it and check in regularly.


A calendar has been created so that you can stay up to date on everything that is happening with the Cycling Centre - want to know if we are inside or out, where we are meeting, what kinds of fun and games we are going to have inside? Check the calendar. Here is the link, be sure to bookmark it and check in regularly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AND THE SUN IS SHINING, AND THE WIND IS WARM - unless it's the first outdoor Cycling Centre ride!

The last few weeks have been truly fabulous in terms of weather, although the mornings have been really foggy.  Cyclists get itchy and can't seem to sit still when the spring weather arrives, so we have no choice but to move the Cycling Centre Sessions outside; at least on the week-ends when it's not pitch black out.

Last week-end we had a foggy and wet ride, after a week of beautiful sun, and thought I'd provide some pointers on how to prepare your bike and body for riding in these conditions.

Always make sure your bike is in good condition.  Keep it clean and lubed, check that all the bolts are tight (handlebars, seat posts, bottle cages), wiggle your cranks and wheels from side to side to make sure there is no play in the bottom bracket or hub.  Have I lost you on the naming of the parts? There is a great picture of a bike that names all the parts of a bicycle and can be found here.  Make sure you have stuff to fix a flat as well (spare tube, pump or CO2, tire levers) and money in case you pass a bakery that is too hard to resist stopping in to.

Drawing by Rainbow Boys

Also check your tires and make sure that they are in good condition.   If you have been riding an indoor trainer tire then be sure to take it off before hitting the pavement.  Look for holes, wear in the side walls, if you've been riding your tire on a trainer or if it is older it might also have flattened out (if you're not sure what I mean compare it to the front one, they should look the same). Generally I wait until the roads have been swept to put on new tires as the gravel can do damage and there may be some days where I hop back on the trainer as we all know that snow will come once more!

Correct air pressure is the next step.  The more air you have in your tires the rougher the ride.  So if you are on nice dry, new roads then you can pump them up as high as you like, though that doesn't mean you will be faster.  If you are riding on rough roads, gritty roads, or wet roads start at 90 psi.  By taking some of the air out you will increase your surface contact with the rubber and the road for more stability and will provide more "give" for comfort.  Your tires will "grip" more in the rain and around corners at a lower psi, though make sure you stay above the minimum recommended pressure for your tires.  The maximum and minimum tire pressures will be printed on your tires.

So last Saturday we were out in 5 degrees Celsius, fog, and some wet - what should we wear?  Those in shorts and no gloves learned the hard way that they needed more clothing.  So here is what I recommend:

  • 0-6 degrees:
    • hat, jersey and arm warmers (and/or good undershirt), wind jacket, long finger gloves with some warmth.  If you tend to be cold then you might want a more thermal under layer, but if the temperature is going to warm up be prepared to take off your jacket, which is why a jersey with pockets underneath is handy as your jacket can be stuffed in to your pocket.
    • shorts and knee warmers, or knickers, or tights.  Keep your knees covered when it's under 15 degrees!!
    • warm socks that are thin enough you can still wiggle your toes, toe covers or booties over your shoes
    • helmet and glasses - though if it's raining or grey put in bright lenses - yellow, orange, pink, clear.
  • 6-15 degrees:
    • same as above though you may not need the hat, be prepared to take off the jacket, and you may not need the booties.  I would still do long finger gloves, but they don't need to be thermal or wintery.
That should help get you started for spring riding. The next post will focus on bike handling and reminders that we tend to be rusty our first few rides outside.

See you on the road.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Rest has been mentioned several times in this blog as being an important part of training and one that is often overlooked.  Scheduled rest and recovery weeks at the Cycling Centre are one of the elements that make this program very different then a spin class and every 4 weeks we have a recovery week.  I am a big believer in active recovery; however, when a recovery week rolls around I find I am tested with ways to make riding easy fun and enjoyable - especially when working with athletes who like to go hard all the time.  In fact, I find myself telling athletes to easy more often then go hard!

This past recovery week happened after the Oscar Awards so the next day we had a fun "after Oscar Party".  I'm not about to say that it gave the Vanity Fair party any competition, but we did have some A-list celebrities on site by the name of George, Billy, Meryl, Octavia and some others.  We even had a disco ball!  The music all came from movies and high 5's were handed out to the riders who could correctly name the movie the song was in.  The drills we did (one leg pedalling and some efforts) were determined by the throwing of a dice and conversation revolved around movies.  It was a lot of fun.

Faced with the pressure of coming up with something even more fun and entertaining there was only one thing I could do, make daiquiris!  February is my least favourite month.  It's usually grey, raining, cold and dark.  I'm ready for winter to be over and spring to arrive, and even though it is a short month it seems to never end - bring on Spring already!  That said, the winter we've had this year has been nice and mild, it really hasn't been to bad, but everyone could still use a beach day!

Many athletes were going to a real beach for rest and recovery, but we created our own beachy atmosphere with the sound of waves and wind chimes, exotic birds swaying in the sky, the coach wearing a bright beach wrap and straw hat (you can never be too careful in the sun), athletes in shades and bright colours, and of course, no beach experience is complete without a cold beverage, so strawberry daiquiris were served.  It was a lot of fun and Wes won for best men's outfit with his Hawaiin jersey, while Dale won for best female outfit of a swimsuit over her cycling shorts and surfer girl skirt - hilarious!

Our next recovery week is the first week of April, the same week as Track Cycling Worlds in Melbourne, so the plan is to race the Omnium, have a sprint tournament, and finish with a Points Race.  You might be thinking that this doesn't sounds like much of a rest, but after the 4-letter word phase we are currently in (i.e.: workouts are hard, hell, pain, hurt, etc.) "racing" on the "track" will be a welcome break!