Last Sunday, I did a indoor ride on a trainer with Mike and Ed of RealDealRacing.  At the ride, Mike offered at the end of the ride an important axiom: The difference between elite athletes and everyone else is rest. Elite athletes know the value of rest and it's restoritive value.

Oddly, I've been riding my bike for the last 3-4 years and never really experienced what I would call enough fatigure to worry about it, until recently. I also recently discovered how important rest is. For the last few months, I have been training at FITS Toronto. I started doing FITS twice per week back in November. I have been cycling almost daily either to work and back, racing on weekends, or training according to my plan. I haven't really taken much of a break. I've had rest days. I've had easy weeks. Training at FITS has ranged from moderate to difficult in intensity. I have marvelled how, in a hour at FITS, I can go from rested to wiped - wiped to the point that riding home from FITS was hard. The hardest ride was last week...it took over a hour to ride back from FITS which usually takes about 45 mins.

If racing a bike is supposed to get easier, well, at the track, the better you get the harder is gets. Why? The people you race against also get better and one is placed in races with better riders. So, this past weekend was no different. I drove out to London, ON to race the Forest City Velodrome. At the race meeting, Rob Good assigned classes of riders to everyone. There was big crowd of races. Rob looked at me and muttered "ah..C...no...B". I wasn't concerned. I race most of the races at the track in the B category. However, I didn't realize who else was in B category. Some of the really good A riders were also set to race B category. When at the boards for the 40 lap endurance race, I saw Lorne Falkenstien roll up to the front and said out loud, "This is going to hurt". Lorne is one of the more experienced riders in the FCV and routinely wins races. There were other good riders in the pack as well, but from my second position at the boards, I couldn't see who. I had watched the C category race, and it was quite, well, pedistrian. I would like to have believed I could have won that one...which was probably why I was in B category.

Off the boards, it was two laps rolling around the track before the start whistle. I knew I was in for trouble when riders where starting to come up to my right getting ready to attack off the starting whistle. When the whistle blew, Lorne, who was leading the pack at the front, sprinted off the front and pushed the pace into the punishing territory. Then, some else attacked from the yellow line. The attacks continued for most of the race. Attack. Attack. The pace did slow down twice and the pack bunched up, but it never lasted more than a lap as riders took advantage of the tired legs and attacked again.

In reviewing the data from the race, my average heart rate for the entire race was 160bpm. My max HR is 174 and my threshold is around 165-167BPM. That was a time trial pace....except, in a TT, no one is attacking and no one is surging, nor anyone else in the race to contend with. In a TT, it's just you and the road (or track). After reviewing the video, I saw that I was at threshold for most of the latter part of the race. I know for certain that at four laps to go yelling "Shutup legs" stopped working and I was starting to slow as the rest of the pack was accelerating fighting for finishing position. I ended up last...but I finished. The results showed I was seventh. Eleven started the race and only seven finished. That punishing pace knocked four riders out for a DNF. I have to say, that race was the hardest thing I have done on the bike.


Watch the video of the race below:

The question to ask is: Are you winning the workout or just showing up?
  • Level 1) You show up. You do the job exactly as you’re told to do it; nothing more, nothing less. You get a little better.
  • Level 2) You show up. You do the job, and you target certain tasks that’ll help you toward your goal. You work the workout, push yourself, think about technique. You get a lot better.
  • Level 3) You show up, having thought about how today’s session fits into the larger goal. You work very hard, pushing yourself into the discomfort zone over and over, with full commitment. Later, you reflect/analyze/critique your performance with a cool, objective eye. You get a LOT better, creating what Gambetta calls “the quantum leap.”
I like to believe I do #3.

The above is taken from the Talent Code blog. The link is below. Check it out.

Blog: http://thetalentcode.com/2012/01/18/the-3-levels-of-effective-practice/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-EcAjs6nqc&feature=player_embedded
(The video is also shown below)

I found a motivational video just have to share. The basic line is in is "Dear Hard Work...." and goes on to describe hard hard work is and the benefits that one receives from it. It has me pumped. I have a saying that anything easy isn't worth doing and I tend to gravitate to things that are hard - I enjoy a challenge, especially on the bike. Check this one. Play it over and over again if you happen to be having a bad training day. Thanks to FITS Toronto for sharing this video on their website.

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I received this document in email today. It is originally from companyfounder.com from THIS BLOG POST. It is relavent to many things, but if you ask yourself, "Are you committed to winning a bike race?", it is relavent to bike racing. If not racing to win, why bother?

Here are seven of the key differences between being interested and being committed.
  1. If you are interested, you show up sometimes. If you are committed, you show up all the time.
  2. If you are interested, when things get tough, you give up and move on to your next "interest". If you are committed, no matter how tough things get, you find a way over, under, around or through obstacles.
  3. If you are interested, you dabble in a bunch of interests. If you are committed, you concentrate your energy on achieving a much shorter list of objectives. In short, you focus.
  4. If you are interested, you are easily distracted and often fall victim to shiny object syndrome. If you are committed, you are so focused that you often don't even notice the irrelevant shiny objects around you.
  5. If you are interested, you don't set goals; rather, you just let it happen. If you are committed, you set goals in a way that maximizes the probability you will achieve them, and you regularly monitor your progress.
  6. If you are interested, you let the fear of failure and other fears keep you from achieving your objectives. If you are committed, you realize that every "failure" is just another step in the direction of achieving your goals.
  7. If you are interested, you allow perfectionism to inhibit your progress, working hand-in-hand with fear of failure to limit your success. If you are committed, you understand that perfectionism is the enemy and you continue to make forward progress, even if each step is not perfect.
Ask yourself, "Am I committed, or am I just interested"? If the answer comes back, "I'm not sure," or "I'm just interested," then unless it's a hobby that you can dabble in and take lightly, you need to reconsider where you are focusing your energy. As a friend once said to me, dabbling is a root cause of failure. You cannot afford to dabble or just be interested in the people and activities that are truly important in your life. Interest will usually get you nowhere. Commitment, on the other hand, has a much higher probability of delivering you the results you are seeking. 

(Thanks to Paul Morin from companyfounder.com for pointing out the orginal blog post)
 
Road racing season just around the corner. I can say that because we someone who races the track and commutes to work on his road/cross bike in the cold, the season never really ends. For the most part, just the clothing changes. So, with the registration of Paris to Ancaster open, I had a look at April and I have choosen, tentatively, the following races:
Last year after riding cross for the first time, I decided to do the New Years Eve cross race. I bought cold weather gear and studded snow tires for the race. And then it was cancelled. This year, we got lucky and the race was on. I seriously started to doubt my sanity because I had spent the previous 5 days at the track in London, ON doing a training camp...and now, I'm "racing" cross. I put quotes on the notion of racing, because, well, I suck at cross. I looked at it as a opportunity for a workout, and I got that much. I spent 1hr30 riding the course, including riding the first race. My thoughts were move train to train rather than train to race in this case. I am happy to report, I wasn't last. I did manage to go down on the first lap which tossed me to be the last guy in the race, but I moved up a few during the remaining laps. Eventually, the leaders caught me and I got lapped, but so what. I was there for a bit of fun. 

The course was mostly flat with two run ups and no barriers - tame by cross standards, but the snow and ice on the field made riding the course hard - like riding through one big sand pit...it was for me. On this course, it seemed your position at the start really was your position at the end because of the ice and snow, moving up was hard. Even in the second race, the leaders went around the course and never caught or passed each other.

Since about March 2011, I have been commuting to the office and back about three to four times per week. My typically commuting bike is my Giant Advanced SL1 and when the weather is good I usually ride with my powertap wheel. One ugly days where the roads may be icey, I pull out my cross bike which has studded snow tires on it. However, somewhere around May I bought a fixed gear road bike so I would not forget what it is like to ride a fixie given I ride/race the track. During the last week of November, the weather was good enough that I decided to ride the fixie to work and back all week. The goal of the week was to learn to spin down hills...and in my case, that is a 1km decent that tops out at -7%. I have hit 66km/h on that decend on the road bike and I decided it was time to learn to spin at 140-150rpm and like it. It took a few days, but I got used to the speed and cadence. It is quite different than the track, because it is very easy to lose control of the bike at speed when you just cannot stop pedalling. On the way home, I have the reverse. I have to climb that hill. In a 46x17, that is hard and I find I have to climb that the entire thing out of the saddle.

On November 25, my coworker and fellow "commuter" rode with his garmin and bike cam and he followed me home. Below is his video:

As I at the Forest City Velodrome this week for the Xmas Training Camp, one of the questions that usually comes up when I pull out my bike cam is how do I get the dials or telemetry on my videos. It was pointed out to me some time ago that a guy in the UK under the alias of VeryMadMart wrote his own utility in Java to generate quicktime videos from the data off his Garmin device. In my case,  I use a Garmin 705 with cadence and heart rate, and when on my road bike, I also have power available to me if I am riding with my powertap wheel. At the track, I have cadence and heart rate - I out a sensor on the track bike.

Anyone interested in using this tool for their own videos can find it at:
http://sites.google.com/site/verymadmart/cyclecam 

It is easy to use. Just export your TCX file from your garmin, and run the software over it. While it does allow you to also load in our video and merge the telemetry and video together, I prefer to do this part in Final Cut Pro X on my Mac Pro. That allows me to combine the pieces of the video together that I want because I do not always start the garmin at the same time as a the video (especially at the track).

Stay tunes for the latest video. I raced the track last night and had the bike cam running on a very hard race.
 

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