Welcome to the Berkeley BiCYCLE Club
The following program for September is premised on a racing season that runs from the beginning of February to the end of August or the first week of September with September as a rest month and October to January as the main training period.
If you follow this program for the next few months, you will be ready to begin racing in February and have your first period of really good form about three to six weeks later. If you’ll start racing later, follow this program, but repeat October or November for as many months as you need to delay the start of racing from February, or just delay the rest month and the rest of the program. If you want to start racing sooner, rest early in September and start base training mid-month.
Here is a rough outline of the months to come.
Rest: September is dedicated to recuperation as needed (see September schedule below).
Weights: Weight lifting and endurance riding start very gently at the beginning of October. Renew your gym membership in time.
Riding: Then comes an endurance build-up period. This starts out easy, but by the end of November you should be at your peak volume for the year. In December and January volume stays high as you gradually transition to intensity with various intervals and finally the racing season starts again in February.
There are two possible structures for the rest period. If you’ve raced a long season and raced or hammered on club rides most weekends, either take three weeks totally off from all exercise or take five weeks and do something short and easy every two days.
If you do the five-week version, about once per week do a two to three hour endurance session. One way to handle this is with non-competitive out-of-town rides. You could even revisit the courses of favorite races. Longer is okay, but not necessary. Once a week do a half hour of something very easy like a walk, swim, or roller ride. Finally, once a week do something fun for an hour. Play soccer, tennis, or basketball. Go rafting, skiing, rock-climbing or hiking.
In September don’t worry too much about precise times, heart rates or power zones. Just stay active three or four days per week, ride the bike at least once per week, stay well below your lactate threshold and don’t get fat.
If you haven’t raced much this season, take one week off the bike or two weeks easy as described above, and then add a day per week of 2-3 hour rides until you are doing 3-4 per week.
September is the ideal time to take care of physical, social or psychological problems that you couldn’t face during the racing season. This is really important. Talk to your spouse. Get a blood test. Visit the dentist. Pad your savings account. Call your non-cycling friends and see if they remember your name. Figure out how old you are (not racing age but real age.). Replace worn-out bike parts, shoes and clothing.
Later in September, after you’ve relaxed for a few weeks, review this past year and decide what you want to do better next year. Vow not to make the same mistakes again. Then figure out what you are going to do about it. Repeat after me: “I will not lead out the sprint from the 1 K marker, I will not wait for the final lap to move up, I will not pull the entire pack for the first half of the race, I will not blow myself up getting to the single track, I will check to be sure my brakes aren’t rubbing, I will tighten my aero-bars, I won’t chase my team-mates, I’ll arrange feeds for all road races where they are allowed, I will be consistent in my training, I will sleep 8-9 hours every night (or one more hour than last year if 8 is just not possible), I won’t sprint out of every corner in crits…”
The off-season is the ideal time to deal with special issues. You can lose weight during the endurance base period because the training is light enough that you don’t have to eat for recovery. (Low carb diets are okay during the rest period but need to be modified when you start to train again). You can practice cornering or smooth pedaling because you don’t have to worry about how fast you go on the bike. You could dial in your time-trial position, start a stretching program, or learn to ride a wheelie on your mountain-bike. You can also take time off to let a nagging injury finally heal.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but probably the single best thing most riders could do to improve their riding, other than start working with a coach, is lose weight. Here’s a link to a great chart that shows weight vs height for successful climbers and sprinters.http://www.wenzelcoaching.com/blog/cycling-body-weight-chart/. If you do need to lose or gain weight, or are just wondering what to eat to keep your energy up for training, here’s a great handout on eating for endurance sports:http://www.wenzelcoaching.com/blog/four-fueling-plans-for-endurance-athletes/.
If you want to keep up on mountain climbs, you need to be close to the weights given for climbers in the chart, probably more in the middle than pushing the top. In our district we have very few truly mountainous races and a lot of hilly ones, so being anywhere in the climber range is okay for road racers generally. If you’ll specialize in flatter road races, you can be in the sprinter range and still be competitive. If you’ll do only truly flat crits and TTs, you can weigh as much as you want.
For Cyclocross Racers
Racing cross seriously means being less serious about road racing since you’ll be training and racing cross just when a road racer would be maximizing base miles, but, assuming you just can’t resist the feeling of mud in your chamois, here’s a plan for September to get you ready for a Cross season that really gets moving in October:
Mondays: Go for a run of up to ½ hour (adding no more than 5 minutes to your longest previous run). If you’ve been doing ½ hour runs for a few weeks, add some stairs, trails with rocks or roots, muddy slopes and other technical challenges. Also do a core strength routine of sit-ups, back extensions, planks and similar stuff. If you are not already great at dismounts and hopping barriers, do some concentrated practice.
Tuesdays: Warm up and then do up to six Threshold or FTP Intervals on the road. Mix up flatter and hillier intervals. Include some downhill within your ability to maintain the effort. These are 5-10 minute intervals within a few beats either side of LT or a few watts either side of FTP (breathing is accelerated a but controlled). Allow 8 minutes rest between intervals.
Wednesdays: Same as Monday but follow the run with a core strength workout plus 10 lifts of the bike onto your shoulder on each side. Many racers always lift on the same side and that works okay, but once in a while in a crowd or a corner it’s helpful to be able to lift on the other side, so mix it up.
Thursday: Do a Push Ride to fill whatever time you have. This is a ride where you warm up, then shift to a gear that allows you to pedal 70-75 rpm in your endurance zone (70-80% of max heart rate or 80-90% of FTP) for the rest of the ride.
Friday: Go for a Run of up to one half hour and add technical challenges as described for Monday.
Saturday: Do intervals of the same length and intensity as Tuesday, but on a cyclocross course including barriers, run ups, creek crossings, off-camber turns on hills and whatever other challenges might realistically show up in a cross race. Mix up rolling and standing start intervals so you are practicing starting hard without blowing up.
Sunday: Go for a long spinning ride in your endurance zone.
This is a great time to get signed up for a Wenzel Coaching training plan. Individual training plans for club riders preparing for the next road or MTB season or the upcoming cyclocross season start at $97 working with Scott or as little as $67 working with the other Wenzel Coaches. For more information about Wenzel Coaching individualized programs for road, criterium, MTB, cyclocross, century riding and other activities, call Scott Saifer at 925-933-7306 or Paul Page-Hanson at 415-641-4813 or check out the web site atwww.WenzelCoaching.com. Good luck with your racing.
Winters Road Race – 35+ Cat 4 [TLDR: 4th of 44 while contesting the sprint finish]
The whole story:
Preparation approaching a race involves a critical balance of maintaining fitness and getting rest. The week before the Winters Road Race I did neither. Instead, I went 3000 miles away from my bicycle, sat in a chair for the greater portion of the day, and exercised my ability to criticize my professional colleagues. Sleep on the East Coast came late while work started early, requiring the consumption of preposterous amounts of coffee.
Wednesday morning I had enough free time to visit the fitness center at the conference hotel and use an exercise bicycle. I believe this contraption measured my heart rate through the handlebars — which never got much over 120 — though it might have been doing so via the gargantuan saddle. This machine was designed for the individual who is interested in sitting on the couch, while simultaneously ruining their pedal stroke. After 25 min of sitting with a television two feet in front on my face I had to abandon the effort and tried the treadmill. That lasted another 30 minutes and I left without ever going back. Traveling home on Friday I had dinner in the Denver airport, and soaked up some good vibes from temporarily being in the same state as the USA PRO Challenge. I also soaked up a Ranger and two XXs. At around 10pm I got home and started packing up kit while having a Uinta black lager for good measure.
I got up at 5am race-day, put the bike, trainer, cooler, and kit in the car and got to Winters, CA in a timely manner. There was plenty of parking, registration was smooth, and I warmed up on the trainer behind the car. Four guys from Team Revolutions unpacked their truck and commented on the fact that it was new; next time I’m bringing headphones. I lined up behind the women’s P/1/2 field next to a dozen guys from Pen Velo and listened to the idle commentary regarding the nice purple and white color scheme of the team Guru kit, the aesthetic of which wasn’t reduced at all by the person sporting it. Talk Radio was there, doing her thing; talking about her bicycle and/or saddle.
The race started easily enough and the first mildly interesting thing to happen was that three Pen Velo guys went to the front, and then let their teammate drift off the front, very, very, slowly, for the what must have been the most slow-motion solo break in the history of cycling. In retrospect, I think this was a planned “move”. With roughly 45 of the 48 miles remaining, the slow solo break wasn’t likely to stick. Nonetheless, someone tapped me on the leg and asked if I wanted to go chase them down together. Realizing that this was not actually clever, I declined the invitation and sat there and waited. Somehow or another we caught the guy well before the one “climb”. The bump in the course is 700ft of elevation gain over about 5 miles and reminiscent of South (Little) Pinehurst. The pace up the hill was fast but not brutal, and the interesting bit was catching the women’s P/1/2 field. My goal was to stay in the front bunch if the field broke up, and take a reasonable line down the descent without trying to make up for any lost time — that is, not crashing.
The pack split up a bit at the right hand turn at the bottom of the hill, and we briefly worked together to stay ahead, but only for a few miles. As the pace dropped in resignation, two guys made a more serious-looking move, one from Audi and the other in something that looked like Mike’s Bikes kit. I went with these two and we had a small gap before being pulled back. This was the last effort I was going to put into those types of shenanigans. As we went back over the hill a second time, a bit faster and bit more fatigued, folks started to drop off. We had a group of about 20 or so for the ride along the flats and into the sprint. I recognized Rich, from Muscle Milk, who rides the HOP and looks strong enough, and my goal was to sit on his wheel until the end. At some point around a corner, a SJBC rider tried to pressure me off Rich’s wheel, which reinforced the thought that this was a good place to be while a few miles out.
The lead into the sprint was along what the locals think of as the majestic Putah Creek Rd (is that a bad word?). It is very nicely paved, there are trees and a body of water along the side at some point. There’s a bridge a few hundred meters from the line, where we could starting using the whole road up to the finish. We approached the bridge fast and I stayed on Rich’s wheel until three Team Revolutions guys started to move up the right. I abandoned my wheel to follow the green guys. While nudging up alongside Rich he started going backwards and caught his handle-bar on mine. Although our bars didn’t lock up, my front wheel and line dipped enough to audibly alarm the folks behind us. I kept it upright, so did Rich, and with no harm done, I got a pat on the back.
Climbing onto the Revolutions lead out, I almost took the third spot, but came up to a bit of a obstacle: the last Revs guy. Having three riders in front of me was just as good (if not better) than two, and instead of fighting for position told the third Revs guy to take it. I followed his wheel as the lead-out dropped off one after another while the pace and the incline picked up. I didn’t have to worry much about going right or left and the lead-out was gorgeous. There was plenty of room and no more bumping. With 30 yards or so left, the last Revolutions guy peeled off and there was no-one else to follow or look at. I was in front for the sprint! Apparently, the time to kick can sneak up on you. I had no idea who or what was going on around me at this point — it was all adrenaline. After the finish I realized I got nipped at the line by Jeff (SJBC) and Igor (Sacramento Golden Wheelmen) on the left, and Long (Cushman & Wakefield) on the right. Long took the win by a wheel or so with Igor and Jeff second and third. I came across the line fourth (out of 44 starters and roughly 20 in the field sprint) with only a momentary sensation of nausea afterwards. The camaraderie of folks after the sprint was very pleasant; I got fist bumps and high-fives from folks that I barely knew or didn’t know at all. Afterwards, I collected my prizes: 1 t-shirt, 4 upgrade points, and $5; bringing the season tally to a whopping 2 t-shirts, 6 points, and $15.
August: Racing – Late Season
For Road and MTB Racers (CX Racers See Below)
The plan this month is basically the same as July, except for the attitude. The program is premised on you ending your season at the end of August or in early September and taking the remainder of September as a rest period. If you plan to race through September or longer, keep up all your training this month except when you are fatigued.
Remember that if you race through September, the earliest you can expect to have a good base, be fit and start racing next year is March. If you love the early season road races, plan to rest in September. If you are planning to race cross more than one or two races this year, see the bottom of this note for your own plan.
So, assuming you will be resting in September, this month you can go short and easy any day you don’t feel like training. You won’t lose fitness until after the season ends. It’s time for the big taper. Here’s the general plan: Saturday and/or Sunday race or do a club ride. Don’t worry about riding extra distance or intervals after the race any longer. Just cool down for twenty minutes by spinning easily and go home.
In fact, if you are going to be doing any more racing this year, don’t even go hard on the club rides. Endurance cruise the whole way.
Monday is a rest day: go for a half hour of light spinning, walking or swimming.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Tuesday is a one-hour recovery ride if you are not feeling 100% after the weekend. Otherwise get a group together for an endurance ride and practice skills such as bumping, cornering, bunny-hopping, off road riding or no-hands riding at low intensity. Practice giving and receiving feeds if you have any more road-races this year.
If you are not doing weekend races any longer you could do a Tuesday or Wednesday night practice crit or track race. Otherwise, if you won’t be racing the following weekend, Wednesday you could do 2 x 10-20 minute intervals at 10-20 beats below LT. If you will be racing the following weekend, go for a few hours of endurance riding. Remember, only do this training on Wednesday if you are feeling good, otherwise just take a recovery day.
Thursday through Sunday: Thursday is a rest day again before a Saturday race or club ride. Friday is for your tune-up before a Saturday race or club ride. To do a tune up, ride very easy until your legs get fairly loose (20-40 minutes) and then do one interval of 5-10 minutes at your ventilatory threshold, or three or four hard jumps of about 15 seconds. If you are racing Sunday and not Saturday, ride an hour or two at Endurance pace on Thursday, rest on Friday and do the tune-up on Saturday.
The most important thing to recognize in August is that it takes two to three weeks for the benefits of training to show up as fitness, so if you train hard mid-August, you’re not going to benefit from it until after the season ends. On the other hand, if you train hard, the fatigue comes immediately and sticks for a week or two, so you’ll hurt your racing short term for the benefit of a non-existent long term. Dumb idea?
A good piece of research showed that muscles sore from weight lifting had damage visible under the microscope until 21 days after the last lifting session, long after the soreness had cleared up. The study has not been repeated that we know of with muscles tired from hard aerobic exercise, but anecdotal evidence suggests that recovery from several days of hard riding takes at least ten days to two weeks. This is why the pros often do short stage races that end two to three weeks before the big Tours. Take a clue from this and taper through August.
September will be a very light month of resting and a tiny bit of endurance maintenance. Go into September tired so you will appreciate it. September will also be the month to check into alternative sports, so plan your hikes, rock-climbing, rafting trips and so on now.
Wenzel Coaching suggests taking a rest month in September or October. It is possible in our climate to race year round but we find that people who don’t take a rest month or don’t dedicate several months to building base never reach their potential as cyclists. While it is hard to break away from the racing scene in the fall, that breaking away is necessary if you want to break away from the field next year.
For Cyclocross Racers
Racing cross seriously means being less serious about road racing since you’ll be training and racing cross just when a road racer would be maximizing base miles, but, assuming you just can’t resist the feeling of mud in your chamois, here’s a plan for August to get you ready for a Cross season that really gets moving in October:
Mondays: Go for a very easy ride for an hour or so and stretch thoroughly. Also do a core strength routine of sit-ups, back extensions, planks and similar stuff.
Tuesdays: Warm up and then do 2-3 Moderate Intervals on the road. These are 10-20 minute intervals about 5-15 beats below LT (good pressure on the pedals but no heavy breathing at all). Allow 5 minutes rest between intervals.
Wednesdays: Go for an easy run, starting with five minutes the first week and adding five minutes to your most recent run length until you reach 30 minutes, and follow the run with a core strength workout plus 10 lifts of the bike onto your shoulder on each side. Many racers always lift on the same side and that works okay, but once in a while in a crowd or a corner it’s helpful to be able to lift on the other side, so mix it up.
Thursday: Do a Push Ride to fill whatever time you have. This is a ride where you warm up, then shift to a gear that allows you to pedal 70-75 rpm in your endurance zone (70-80% of max heart rate) for the rest of the ride.
Friday: Go for a long spinning ride in your endurance zone
Saturday: Do intervals of the same length and intensity as Tuesday, but on a cyclocross course including barriers, run ups, creek crossings, off-camber turns on hills and whatever other challenges might realistically show up in a cross race.
Sunday: Go for a long spinning ride in your endurance zone and follow it up with a run the same length as Wednesday.
Individual training plans for club riders preparing for the next road or MTB season or the the upcoming CycloCross season start at $97 working with me or $67 working with Meredith or the other Wenzel Coaches. For more information about Wenzel Coaching individualized programs for road, criterium, MTB, cyclocross, century riding and other activities, call Scott Saifer at 925-933-7306 or check out the web site at www.WenzelCoaching.com. Good luck with your racing.
Scott Saifer, M.S.
Pix by Katie Truong
Pix by Doug Pearl