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Consulting Special Rates for January

My sweetie recently had an excellent suggestion - that I offer coaching ride and consulting special rates during January. So, consults that are normally $75/hour are $60/hour this month. It's also no problem to do one consult in two 30-minute sessions a few weeks apart. Coaching rides are $10 off at $40/hour instead of $50. Now is a good time to assess your fit and technique!

If you are interested, go ahead and sign up online at the Peaks Coaching Group website:

http://www.peakscoachinggroup.com/services/performance_consulting.html

Or, just send me an email at adnan (at) peakscoachinggroup.com

Chinese Food For Thought

Through competition, we can discover ourselves.

- Jet Li as Huo Yuanjia

Think about that a little bit.

Group Ride Etiquette

The other day, while I was speaking with the athlete I have been coaching the longest, Tom W., we hit upon the subject of how to behave on a group road ride. While every ride is different, there are some basic rules to follow if you don't want to be pegged as dangerous or, worse, annoying. Depending on the amount of traffic, and the local laws, most groups ride single file or two-abreast. The latter makes for nice conversation and, when a group is large, makes it a bit quicker for cars to pass. Sometimes, though, a group simply has to ride single file. The following tidbits generally apply to both situations, so...

Rule #1: Be a good guest. If you are invited to ride with a new group, show up on time. Also, don't go immediately to the front and try to drop them. They probably invited you because they want to talk to you and get to know who you are and if they are constantly chasing you, that's impossible. Go for the occasional sprint (if they tell you it's coming), otherwise just relax and enjoy the ride.

Rule #2: Ride in a straight line. There are few things more frightening than someone in a group who has trouble holding a smooth line. Wobbly riding by one individual is magnified as you go down the line, so bend your arms and stay relaxed while making sure you aren't too close to the wheel in front of you. This brings me directly to...

Rule #3: Avoid braking constantly. One way to make sure you keep your distance from the wheel of the rider in front of you is to gently move to the left (in most of the Western world, except the UK) into the wind for a moment of two. Catching a bit of wind on your chest will often slow you down enough to avoid having to touch your brakes. This, in turn, brings me to...

Rule #4: When you are in front on a gentle descent, keep pedaling. The riders behind you are already coasting in this situation, and if you coast too, they will certainly have to brake. They may have to anyway, but if you keep a bit of pressure on, they will have to brake less and the whole group will stay happier.

Rule #5: Point out obstacles. This could easily be rule #1, because it is so important. When you see a hole/stick/gravel/car-pulling-out-of-driveway ahead, point it out to the riders behind you as you avoid it.

Rule #6: Look where you are going. We have all spent time, tongue hanging out, staring desperately at the rear hub of the rider in front, but that's racing! On a group spin, keep your eyes up and look ahead. Learn to gauge, without actually looking, the distance between your front wheel and the wheel ahead of you.

Rule #7: Stand up (like a Champion): Once in a while, it's nice to get up out of the saddle for a bit. When you do this, your bike naturally moves back a bit. So, to avoid taking out the fellow behind you, who is no doubt carefully observing rules #1-6, make sure you do it carefully by leaving a bit of room to the wheel in front before giving the pedals one hard push as you stand.

Rule #8: Warn your mates: If you are in the back and you hear a car approaching from behind, just say "Car back." If you are in front on a narrow road with no center line and you see a car approaching, say "Car up." If you are somewhere in the middle, pass it on. Simple!

Rule #9: Slow down after you rotate off the front: One thing I often see on group rides, even with supposedly experienced riders, is riders taking a pull and then pulling off only to stay at the same speed, forcing the next riders to go even faster. Naturally, this only works for so long before someone can't go that fast and the group begins to separate. So, when you rotate off the front, simply ease back a bit with the pressure you apply to the pedals. When everyone does this, a paceline flows smoothly and motion becomes poetry.

Rule #10: Share the road: Cars definitely don’t add to the fun of any ride (unless perhaps you are drafting one at speed), but we all use public roads, so we have to share. To that end, keep right (or left if you live in a place where they drive on that side), obey the rules of the road, be courteous, and ride predictably.

I am sure there are a few more pieces of advice which would qualify, and if you have any of your own (I am sure Erik V. does), then feel free to drop me a line and I will add them to the list. In the meantime, here is a start!

Fun Guy vs Fitness Guy

My friend BRAD always puts riders into one of two categories: Fun Guy or Fitness Guy (or Fun Girl and Fitness Girl - substitute as necessary). Fun Guys just ride for fun and friends while, supposedly, Fitness Guys are all business on the bike. Fun Guys go mountain biking in the snow while Fitness Guys ride the trainer, sweating for hours in front of a Vuelta a Espana DVD. Fun guys duel with each other on twisty descents while Fitness Guys take it easy, recovering from their last set of 12 VO2 Max intervals. Fun Guys have coffee before and gelato after the ride, while Fitness Guys pose for coffee before and then head straight home for a protein shake and massage, as well as a nap.

It's easy to see why Fun Guys are fun and Fitness Guys are not necessarily so fun. Why ride a bike at all if you're not having some fun?

In order to succeed in cycling, as in most things in life, it is important to maintain a bit of perspective. Fun Guys don't really care about succeeding at anything besides having a good time, so theoretically they are good to go. Fitness Guys, on the other hand, want to win. But what's so great about winning if you are miserable? I used to read an English magazine called Cycling Weekly (as opposed to Cycling Weakly, which is what I do), and in the late '90s there was a rider who won nearly every road race he started. His name was Matthew Illingworth and in every single victory photo he looked positively miserable. Brad would likely nominate him as the poster boy for Fitness Guys. (If someone actually sends me a photo of Illingworth smiling as he crosses a finish line, I will send you an REI gift card worth $20). Anyway, I think you get my point.

So, who wins? The truth is that Fun Guys can benefit from some fitness and Fitness Guys can benefit from having some fun now and then. It's a lot easier to do epic fun mountain bike rides with your pals when you have a bit of fitness and some strength in your legs to grunt up those steep bits.

It's also true that Fitness Guys can probably do themselves (not to mention their loved ones and perhaps society in general) some good by lightening up a bit. Why not eat a bit of gelato and stop counting calories? Skip a workout or two on your training plan and take your partner on a surprise trip to the coast. Maybe hang out at the back of the local hammerfest and chat with some Fun Guys you've never taken the time to meet before because you've been busy at the front every week trying to rip their legs off. The possibilities for Fun are endless - all you have to do is want it.

How to dress when the weather turns (more) foul

A few weeks ago we learned about how to dress on those cool autumn days. Well, now we are nearly in November and, at least here in the NorthWest, winter is seemingly upon us. I always wait as long as possible before yanking my thermal jacket out of storage, but that time has come and the deed is done.

The thermal jacket has long been a mainstay in cycling. Formerly made of shiny, tight-but-stretchy polyester, often with an integrated speed skater-style hood and thumb loops, they now feature high collars, 2-way zippers, wind and waterproof fabric, reflective highlights and a nice fit that allows a layer or two underneath. Have a look at the photos below. On the left is the old style, while on the right the new:

old skool - new wave

A good thermal jacket can work wonders for you in the winter. However, perhaps just as important is the tried and true concept of layering. Always start with a good, moisture-wicking base layer. By keeping that next to your skin, you will avoid feeling clammy, and soon afterwards cold, when you begin to sweat during those 2 x 20min FTP intervals your coach is giving you to do in January.

What you put between your base layer and your thermal jacket depends upon the weather you are heading out into. If it is windy, but not really too cold, maybe a base layer is all you need. If it is wet, windy and chilly, try adding a short sleeve jersey, a long sleeve jersey, or even both. What you choose will depend on how easily you get cold or heat up. The golden rule, though, is to always stay warmer than you think you need to be. If your body is spending energy keeping you warm, it's not spending that energy on training!

Last but certainly not least come accessories. Every girl loves these, but for cyclists in winter they are invaluable. If it is really cold, wear a thermal cap under your helmet. If it is not too cold, or if it is raining, wear a cycling cap under the helmet (again, see photo above). The cap will provide some warmth, but perhaps more importantly, will keep a lot of rain out of your eyes. Sunglasses (or clear glasses) will also help to keep your face warm and protect your eyes from that frosty wind.

Gloves are next on the list, and many riders keep several pairs to choose from. These are largely a personal choice, depending upon how sensitive your hands are. A lot of heat is lost from the wrists, so gloves with long wrist cuffs are always a good idea, as are ones with wind/waterproof fabrics.

Finally we come to the feet, often the parts that begin to freeze first. If you don't mind wearing thicker socks in winter, wool goes a very long way towards keeping your feet warm, even after they begin to sweat (because no matter how cold it is, they will). Over your shoes come a nice pair of thermal booties. There are many types on the market, but again, wind/waterproof with a bit of fleecy insulation works best. Make sure the cleat cut-out in the sole is no bigger than it needs to be, and that the zipper is stout and won't break mid-ride. How many times have you seen riders with their winter booties safety-pinned together? Ghetto! After that, it is important to make sure your leg warmers are long enough to reach into your booties. Exposed skin on the way down to your feet will only help make them cold and make you want to go home.

So, now you know how to dress for winter riding. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Dress for success on the bike

jim_matt.jpg

There is a simple rule for dressing for Spring and Fall on the bike: arm warmers and knee warmers for racing; long sleeves and leg warmers for training.

As an endurance athlete, your body can perform best if it doesn't have to spend energy keeping you warm while training. So, bundle up! If you have ever seen pros out riding in even relatively warm weather, you will notice that they are always covered up. Part of this is because they are whippet-skinny, but it is mostly because this way their muscles can concentrate on propelling them forward (and getting better at it) instead of shivering to keep them warm.

The magic number is 65 degrees (18 degrees C). Below that, wear long sleeves and leg warmers while training. If you sweat a bit, that's okay - just make sure you wear a light moisture-wicking base layer. When it gets colder, add a cap and a vest.

Now you know how to dress like a pro!

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