Sunday, February 19, 2012

An off off-season

Having done this bike racing / training thing for 3 full seasons now some distinct patterns have emerged. 

Sort of.

  • From late October to mid-February 10lbs of unwanted weight is accrued
  • Ride frequency diminishes the most right around the holidays to at most 3 rides per week
  • Early to mid February is back pain month.  Correction: Every month is back pain month but for some reason February sees a spike in intensity.  It was back pain that triggered all of this insanity in 2009.
  • Weight starts to taper off as a direct correlation to training volume beginning in February
  • Weight loss hit's it's peak in April
  • Laziness starts to prevail - we'll see a mid-season increase of 5lbs
  • Reactionary diet control intervenes - we see a late season bump in fitness / weight loss
  • It's October again - rinse.. repeat
But there was one difference last year.  Along with the weight gain & reduction in frequency an after work cross-fit session was administered twice weekly with co-workers.  It seemed like a good idea to break things up and balance fitness overall.  After yesterdays ride - I am certain it had a huge impact last year.

Steve Offiler led a great group ride around Big River that was organized through the Danielson Adventure Sports page on Facebook -  a popular ride destination here in lil' Rhody.  I had read some reviews online - and shrugged the location off as being fairly flat, fast and swoopy.  Upon arrival, scanning the horizon suggested it was nowhere near as flat as imagined.  I had changed my SS gearing from 32X20 to 32X18 in the morning to compensate for what I thought was coming.  Oops.

Within 15 minutes of riding I knew I was in big trouble.  The climbs weren't VT mountain sustained grinds - but had plenty of grade to demand slow torquey upper body rowing.  Shit!!  This hurts!! In weird-ass places!!  Biceps were twitching, shoulder blade muscles cramping (??!!) and of course my back wanted nothing to do with any of it.  I was so gassed at the end - I couldn't wait to get in the car, go home, and lie the heck down.  That said, I can't wait to go back with the right gearing or a bunch of gears.  There are some very sweet trails here.
Team colors- photos courtesy Steve Offiler

Overlook on Elephant - dude - is that elevation? In Rhode Island??

What this ride did was reveal weaknesses that weren't as prominent early last season.  I had it in mind last November to partake in cross-fit style training all by my lonesome down in the basement.  Sadly, I don't have that kind of self motivation.  In other words - I have to pay someone to feel compelled to pursue the effort.  Yick.  One could buy some nice gear with the money saved if one had enough dedication.

Part of what spurred this epiphany was Doug's post from yesterday that focuses on how overly focused many of us become training for cycling by cycling only.  I am certain off season well-rounded training makes a big difference. The question remaining:  Is there value to cross-training *during* the season??  Does anyone do this?? Are there any adverse effects?

Charlie - can you check my spelling?  I hit the spellcheck button and nothing lit up.  That never happens.


  1. Last summer I developed some thoughts on in-season cross training. I felt the running was a detriment to cycling performance. I think same can be said when I start rollerskiing in the fall. The reason for this, I think, is these activities are not othogonal to cycling. The term orthogonal is used a lot in engineering. In a simple definition, it means two things can happen in the same space or time and not interfere with each other. They remain independent and uncorrelated.

    For training to be orthogonal, one activity should have no, or at least very little impact on the other. Running certainly is not orthogonal to cycling. It stresses many of the same muscle groups in the legs, and maybe even more importantly, stresses your entire energy production system. Thus running adds to your total training load and need for recovery.

    So what orthogonal activity could one do if they wanted to maximize cycling performance in-season? Things that were not aerobic for starters. Save that for the bike. Plyometrics might be a good bet, but like you, I'd have to pay somebody to prod me through a routine. Various core strength work and stretching routines should be done all the time, something I'm just beginning to grasp. These shouldn't impact training on the bike. It seems only activities that both use my legs and drive my HR up have a negative impact on bike training and increase my need for recovery. Anything else should be ok. Just my current thinking on this...

    1. Thanks for the insight - thorough and scientific as always. Off to investigate Plyometrical stuff and maybe a local gym (shudder)

  2. You want some cross training? Come over to my house and chop the wood I've been ignoring since the October storm.

    i before e except after c and sometimes y or when it makes an "a" sound.

    Good luck with the diet. I made Belgian waffles from scratch on Friday, and oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday.

  3. I realize that my running probably doesn't improve my cycling fitness but it does improve my overall fitness so I'm ok with the minor negative effects it has on my cycling since I know that I'll never be paid to race. plus, because of my schedule, some days a 1/2 hour run is all that I can get in and I often have DAYS of no training at all so the risk of overtraining is next to nil.

    one good effect of my running is that in nasty conditions, I can now run past others as they either try to stay on their bikes or walk with their bikes...

    core work is key too as mentioned. as I type this, my abs are KILLING me from yesterday's workout.

    1. Apparently more folks do core than I had thought. Last winter it was an interesting distraction. Time to view it as part of the package.