FREE Afton Hill Training Rides begin Thursday, April 5!!

Our weekly ‘Afton Hill Repeat’ rides begin NEXT THURSDAY, April 5, 2018.  Join us, and bring all your cycling friends!

Rides begin at 5:30pm sharp, in front of Selma’s Ice Cream Parlor in Afton.  Road construction has been completed in Afton, so the roads are in great shape and there’s plenty of on-street parking available.

These training rides are FREE and they’re open to riders of all experience levels.  After warming up, we do repeats on the main hill coming out of Afton (the “Coulee”).  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fast climber or slow, we ride a closed loop, so nobody gets dropped.  There will be very fast riders and plenty that aren’t very fast or very good hill climbers.  It doesn’t matter.  Come ride.  Hill climbing provides the best and most efficient training for your time, and the only way to get better at climbing is to climb.

These rides are phenomenal training for any races/events you have planned this season.  So start the season off by working on your climbing legs!

And you’re free to ride any style of bike:  most will ride their road bikes, but others will ride ‘cross bikes and mountain bikes, and some will likely ride TT bikes and who knows, maybe we’ll even see a fat bike!   So don’t let your bike or your experience deter you.

As long as it’s dry, we’ll be there.  No need to register in advance.  Just come and be ready to roll out at 5:30 sharp, so be on your bike and ready at 5:15 for a pre-ride briefing.  In past years we’ve had up to 40+ riders, and I hope to top that number this year.  Let’s take advantage of the beautiful area surrounding Afton, the training it provides and the support we’ll provide for each other.

Let me know if you have questions.  See you and your friends next Thursday!

Recovery rides are key to cycling improvement

Recovery rides are key to cycling improvement

Recovery might be the most important “training” you do on your bike.  It’s often the hardest and the most overlooked aspect of training.  Riding your bike stresses your body, especially when the training is long and/or hard.

However, we get stronger, faster and more fit following rest.  In other words –  training creates stress, while recovery promotes adaptation.

Many riders believe they must train hard every day.  Lack of recovery is the key reason cyclists stop improving and plateau. Lack of recovery often leads to breakdown, illness and overtraining.  Riders lose “freshness,” and the mental ability to keep riding.  They get “sick of training.”

Don’t let this happen to you.

Recovery is a critical component to training, and once you realize its importance, recovery days are embraced, cherished and eagerly anticipated.

Recovery can be broken down a few ways.  Certain rides may be classified as “Active Recovery Rides.”  Characteristics include:

  • Average heart rate <68% of threshold HR (from your 30 minute time trial)
  • Average power <55% of functional threshold power (again, from your 30 minute TT)
  • Perceived Exertion = <2 (2 of 10)
  • Your level of exertion is very, very low.  It feels “embarrassingly easy.”  Extremely light pressure on the pedals.  You induce no fatigue to your legs.  It takes no concentration to maintain pace and continuous conversation is possible.  The only concentration required is to ride your bike slowly enough.  Cadence is low and ride duration is short (typically 30 minutes – 2 hours, depending on a variety of factors, such as rider experience, level of fatigue, etc).

The key to remember is that a recovery ride really can’t be too slow.  Your only goal is to “flush” your legs.

In addition to Recovery Rides, you should take a periodic “Recovery Week.”  After a strenuous block of training, a recovery week allows freshness to return (mental and physical) and helps your body to adapt to the cycling stress.

I generally schedule a formal recovery week for my athletes every 3rd or 4th week.  I typically schedule a recovery week for my Master’s cyclists every 3 weeks and younger athletes (under 40) every 4 weeks.  These are general guidelines and not hard and fast rules.  A 50-year-old cyclist who has trained and raced his or her entire career may be able to train for 3+ weeks before a recovery week is required.

On the other hand, a 28-year-old rider who is new to the sport and has a limited amount of general athletic experience may need a recovery week more often.

A recovery week is characterized by significantly reduced volume (often 50% or more) and easy rides.  Recovery weeks are a great time to focus on pedalling skill rides.

While I use the term Recovery “Week,” the actual recovery portion is typically about 5 days, which again can change by the athlete.  Here is a template for a typical recovery week:

  • Day 1:  Off
  • Day 2:  Short and easy (z1-only).
  • Day 3:  Short and easy, and may (or may not) include a few spin-up or other pedal drills.
  • Day 4:  Off
  • Day 5:  Short and easy ride.
  • Day 6:  Relatively short ride, but a bit more effort.  This is often a ride which includes a significant amount of z1 but also some z2 if the rider is feeling refreshed.
  • Day 7:  Longer aerobic ride (z2-3)

By the end of the 5th day, the cyclist is usually feeling quite fresh and eager to get back after it.  The key here is to slowly ramp up the effort, but continue to keep the training stress low for another day or so.

So remember to include at least 1 recovery ride each week, and GO EASY.  In addition, schedule a recovery week every 3rd or 4th week.  You’ll ride stronger, you’ll be mentally and physically fresher and you’ll avoid burnout.  So learn to enjoy your recovery.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help you prepare for your key events and races.

Coach Bob

Workout Wednesday * Tempo Training!

Workout Wednesday * Tempo Training!

Workout Wednesday * Tempo Training!

Many of the workouts I’ve offered so far have been “hard” workouts.  Threshold rides, VO2 Max level rides, interval rides, etc.  These are all great cycling workouts and this high end fitness is critical to success.

Cycling is primarily an aerobic sport, so building a solid foundation is the #1 key to long term improvement.  And a solid aerobic foundation provides a great platform for the high end workouts, which means you’ll gain even more from these rides with a deep and solid aerobic base.  So don’t overlook riding at aerobic levels.

Today’s workout will be exactly that.  One of the mistakes riders make on their aerobic rides is that they are too easy.  There’s a difference in effort between a true aerobic development ride and a recovery ride, which is the pace many riders mistakenly use.

I’ve discussed “tempo” level riding in a previous post, and you may refer back to that for more information.  Tempo is often called Zone 3.  Heart rate is 84-94% of threshold level (based on your 30 minute time trial) and tempo power is 76 – 90% of threshold average power.

The key to making tempo level rides beneficial is to spend huge amounts of time here.  Depending on your level of experience and aerobic development, a long tempo ride for you could mean 45 minutes straight in this zone, or it could mean 1-2 hours or more.  At least 1 ride per week should be a tempo level ride, especially early in the season.  Over time, increase the length of time spent riding tempo level.


5 minutes easy spin.  Heart rate should come up gradually.

3 x 1 minute “fast pedal” drills (110+ rpm), each followed by 1 minute easy spin recovery

5 minute sub-threshold effort.  This is warm-up only, so don’t overdo the effort.  The purpose is to warm up your muscles, open blood vessels and raise your heart rate, not to have you tired out for the main part of the ride.

5 minute easy spin recovery


Today we’ll assume a 45 minute tempo ride.  After warmup, plan to ride at least 1 hour (or more) at an endurance level.  Within this timeframe, increase HR/power level to tempo.  Maintain this level for 45 minutes.

Cadence should be self-selected, but your goal should be 85-95 rpm.  The course can be flat or rolling.  Try to avoid a hilly course today so that you’re able to maintain a constant level of effort.  A real key to the ride is to plan so that you’re able to ride the tempo portion in a steady fashion, uninterrupted by stop lights, stop signs, major hills or heavy traffic.  Again, you gain benefits from this ride by spending large chunks of time at this level.


Ride easy for 5-10 minutes or more.  Spin in a low gear with low pressure to flush your legs.

Variations include:

Parts of the tempo ride can be at low cadence to not only build your aerobic engine, but to improve muscular strength as well.

Cadence can be changed every several minutes

Every 5-10 minutes, rise out of the saddle and accelerate for 10-15 seconds, then settle back to tempo level.

Don’t overlook the importance of building your aerobic base.  Every ride should have a purpose, and improving upon your foundation should be a never-ending part of your training.

Please contact me with questions or if you’d like to discuss working together to in order to help you achieve your cycling goals.

Train Smart and Train Hard!

Coach Bob

Workout Wednesday – Improve your Threshold Power!

Workout Wednesday – Improve your Threshold Power!

Threshold is a key predictor for cyclists.  Whether you’re a roadie, an MTB rider or a triathlete, improving your threshold power is your best avenue to improve your fitness and your results.

What is threshold?  You’ll see many terms out there; such as lactate threshold, aerobic threshold, anaerobic threshold and others.  The functional definition I use is simply how hard you can ride for 1 hour (as defined by power output and/or average heart rate) at an all-out Time Trial race-pace effort.

Improving threshold really means two things:

  1. Improving your power output (which is the key for any cyclist….riding longer at a higher wattage), and
  2. Increasing the time you are able to ride at this level.

Improving threshold power and duration required dedicated work right at this level.  The intervals are long and the work load is high.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort (both mental and physical) to complete these intervals, but the payoff will be great.

Here’s a great workout you can use to improve upon your threshold: (more…)

Workout Wednesday * Today’s ride plan!!

Workout Wednesday * Today’s ride plan!!

This portion of the off season should be dedicated to improving your pedaling efficiency, your cycling-specific leg strength and “raising your ceiling” by improving your VO2 Max power.  We’ll work on this with pedaling drills, with some short, full power intervals and some VO2 Max intervals while simulating climbing.

With that, here we go:


  • 3 minutes easy
  • Pedaling drills (1 minute at each of the rpm speeds listed):  90, 80, 70, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120
  • 1 Recovery Interval (RI)
  • 3 minutes tempo/threshold (2 at tempo level and the final minute at threshold)/ 3 RI

 Main Set — Force Reps (You’re in your Biggest Gear)

  • 2 sets (4 x (:10/:50)) 1 extra RI between sets and after. Alt seated and standing. (start from 6 – 8 mph).  NOTE:  Cadence will be very low at the start as you’re in the big gear.  Then drive with everything you’ve got for 8-10 seconds.  You’ll just be getting on top of your pedals at the 8-10 second mark.
  • 2 sets (4 x (:10/:50)) 1 extra RI between sets and after. Alt seated and standing. (start from 12 – 15 mph rolling).  NOTE:  So you’ll be doing a total of 4 sets of 4 intervals each, so a total of 16 ALL OUT intervals.

Main Set  —  VO2 Max — climbing cadence (60 – 75 rpm)

  • 7 minutes at VO2 Max / 2 min RI (seated)
  • 4/2 (seated)
  • 3/2 (seated)
  • 5/2 (standing, sit & accelerate :10 each minute). NOTE:  These likely won’t be at VO2 Max level.  Tempo/threshold is OK
  • 3/2 (standing). Same as above

 Main Set  —  ILT (This is “Isolated Leg Training,” otherwise known as single leg pedal drills

  • 2 x (:60/:60/:15 RI.) Followed by :15 Big Gear (BG) Hill simulation.  Followed by :60 RI.  NOTE:  This means 60 seconds on each leg, followed by a 15 second recovery, then get in your biggest (hardest) gear and push HARD for 15 seconds.  Then a 1 minute RI

 Cooldown:  5 minute easy spin

That’s it!  You just completed another top quality and highly functional training ride that will accomplish all the goals laid out at the beginning.  Let me know how it goes for you!

Coach Bob



Workout Wednesday * Cycling-Specific Leg Strength

Workout Wednesday * Cycling-Specific Leg Strength

This week’s indoor workout is one the not only builds cycling-specific leg strength, but also develops pedaling efficiency with some high cadence work  and with single leg pedaling.

This training ride will be slightly over one hour long.

Here’s what it looks like:

Warmup (approx 25 minutes):

  • 5 minutes easy spin z1-2
  • Isolated Leg Training (ILT).  Unclip one foot from the pedal then put it on the back post of the trainer (the other “working leg” remains in the pedal).  You should be in the big chainring in front and somewhere in the middle of your back cassette.  Your cadence should be about 60 rpm with your leg fully engaged the entire 360 of the pedal stroke.
    • :30 smooth rotation one leg, then switch legs and repeat with the other leg
    • :45 each leg
    • 1:00 each leg, followed by :30 easy spin recovery interval (RI)
  • Cadence work (easy gear).  1 minute each at 95 rpm, 100, 105 110 and 115, followed by a 1 minute easy spin RI.
  • 5 minutes tempo/threshold.  4 minutes in z3/tempo, increasing slightly each minute.  The final minute should be at z4/threshold effort/power/HR.
  • 4 minutes easy z1 spin

Main Set:

  • Put your bike in it’s biggest hear (53 x 11/12) and slow down to 4 – 8 mph.  Then completely ALL OUT, pedal as HARD AS YOU CAN for 8 – 10 seconds seated, followed by :50 easy spin RI.  You should just be getting on top of your pedals at the end of this 8 – 10 seconds.  Perform 3 more :10/:50 seated.  Following this, take an extra 1 minute RI.  Next, perform 4 x :10/:50 ALL OUT standing.  So it will look like this:
  • 4 x :10/:50 seated ALL OUT.
  • 1 extra RI
  • 4 x :10/:50 standing ALL OUT
  • 1 extra RI
  • 4 x :10/:50, alternate seated and standing, ALL OUT
  • 3 minutes RI


  • 2 x 4 minutes at VO2 Max level effort (Power/HR/RPE).  Cadence should simulate a hill climb (60 – 75 rpm), so you’ll be in a big, heavy gear.  2 minutes easy z1 spin RI between each interval.  We’ll then finish up with:
  • 1 x 6 minutes STANDING at approx tempo/threshold level (approx 60 rpm), followed by a 2 minute RI.


  • 5 minutes light easy z1 spin at low cadence to flush your legs

This workout is a fantastic and all-encompassing off-season training ride.  The benefits include single leg pedal practice and cadence work and a significant amount of cycling-specific leg strength in multiple training zones.  All in an hour or less.

After this ride, you’ll get off the bike and know with 100% certainty that you put in some high quality work.

Remember that the success of your upcoming season is built NOW, in the off season, so keep it up!

Next week I’ll provide you with another GREAT workout plan, so keep in touch!

Coach Bob