Category Archives: Indoor Cycling

P5 – Power – it is all relative

The simplest definition of power is this: how hard you push multiplied by how fast you push.  Power output is measured in watts and there is a direct correlation between watts and calories expended, therefore power measurement matters for the elite professional cyclists as much as it does for those of us who don’t race but ride for fitness and enjoyment, with this caveat: if you are not a professional racer and your rides are beginning to become all about power numbers rather than the positive effect on your health, life and relationships it is possible that you are on the verge of becoming a power-obsessed lunatic and ought to reconsider what you are doing to yourself!  That said, let’s talk about power.  Power is measured primarily through the use of gauges that measure the force you are putting into the pedals.  Power meters come in various forms, with cranks, pedals and wheel hubs being the most popular tools used to measure power, with prices ranging from approximately $1,200 for a set of power measuring pedals that measure both left and right side power to $4,000+ for the top of the line SRM.  Not all power meters are created equal and it is important to do some research or buy your power measuring device from someone who will charge you a fair price, install it properly, demonstrate its use and help you when it doesn’t work, which happens from time to time.

I wrote the words “it’s all relative” at the top of this section for several reasons, as follows:

  1. Power matters however, training properly in order to increase your absolute power relative to where you began, the increase in power, your progress, is more important than the actual number itself. We all have different abilities, interests and goals; what matters to a pro rider doesn’t really matter to a cycling enthusiast.  Constant improvement is key!
  2. Power to weight is important, measured as watts per kilogram (output per kilo of bodyweight). Consider the following two cyclists who have the ability to sustain 260 watts.  Cyclist 1 weighs 80 kilos while cyclist 2 weighs 65 kilos.  Their power to weight ratios are 3.25 for cyclist 1 and 4.0 for cyclist 2.  (260/80 for cyclist 1 and 260/65 for cyclist 2).  Relatively speaking cyclist 2 is stronger and will therefore go faster or, said another way, with the same work expended the cyclist pushing the lighter object will go faster.
  3. Sustainable power matters to sprinters and climbers but only within their respective competitor groups. For example, a sprinter may push in excess of 2,000 watts during a sprint (I hate to use the word however here because of the sheer craziness of being able to push 2,000 watts), however the sprinter needs to sustain that power for a relatively short period of time – however long it takes to travel several hundred meters (usually less than one minute).  Climbers on the other hand push out 400 watts on their climbs however (again with that word!) they sustain that power for climbs that, in some instances, last 90 minutes over 20km.  Some sprinters actually cry on those long mountain stages while the climbers wouldn’t be caught dead in a bunch sprint!

 

P4 – Pedal Stroke – think in perfect circles (as it relates to your pedaling!)

Proper pedaling technique, in words, sounds like this: push, scrape, pull and drive over the top.  Think about your feet moving around the face of a clock.  From 2 o’clock through 5 o’clock you are pushing down on the pedal using your quadriceps (the large muscle group at the upper front of your leg) and the ball of your foot.  As you hit 5 o’clock you begin to flex your ankle almost as if you are trying to bend your foot around the bottom of the clock, while you continue to push through to 7 o’clock.  As you get to 7, you begin to pull up using your hamstrings (the large muscle group at the upper back of your leg).  When you hit about 10 o’clock you drive your leg over the top of the clock and begin the process again.  You are not alone!  What I mean by this is while the one leg is going through this process, the opposite leg is doing the opposite; while one leg pushes the other leg pulls and vice versa, and while one leg is scraping through the bottom of the clock the other leg is driving over the top.  We all begin with a dominant leg and a leg that likes to tag along; single leg drills are the cure for what ails this!  (More on single leg drills in another eBook).

P3 – Posture – always carry yourself with confidence

I believe that mindfulness and cycling go hand in hand.  To be mindful of your posture on the bike will make you more efficient which in turn helps you save energy which of course allows you to ride stronger, faster and further without causing injury to yourself.  During the conversation on Position we discussed your alignment on the bike.  Start here – when you first sit on your bike think of yourself as a Marine or a Ballerina.  Imagine a string pulling at the top of your head, lifting your head and ears away from your pulled back/relaxed shoulders.  Imagine that there is a hinge at your hip that allows you to keep that upper body posture while you bend forward, almost as if you are bowing to someone in front of you.  This is clearly easier to do if you are riding your bike on an indoor trainer or if you are riding a stationary bike.  The theory is the same if you are going for a ride outdoors, with some additional considerations.  First, you gain control of the bike by squeezing the brake lever on whatever side from which you will mount your bike.  Your other hand is shaking hands with your handlebars.  If you are going to swing your right leg over the bike your left foot will remain on the ground therefore squeeze the left brake lever and keep it squeezed until you are ready to begin rolling forward.  Next, using your right foot roll the right pedal around so that it is at the low point, 6 o’clock, and once it reaches that low point clip in your right foot.  Next roll that pedal up until it reaches approximately the 2 o’clock position.  The next part is fun and all done simultaneously:  pedaling with the clipped in foot (the right) and pushing off the ground with your left foot while gently releasing the left brake causes your bike to move forward.

I am going to quote Einstein here, and I cannot stress this enough:  “Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving”. 

As you are moving forward, place your left foot onto the left pedal and clip it in while you continue to move forward.  Don’t worry if you don’t catch the clip right away, just continue to turn the pedals until you get it.  Also, please continue to look where you are going and not down at your foot.  Cycling is about feeling, so feel your way to the pedal and clip in; trust me, be patient with yourself, we all get it, eventually!  Now that you are clipped in and rolling, find that perfect comfortable posture we’ve been discussing.

Improving Cycling Performance: Focus on THE 6 P’s –

P2 – Pace – the speed of your legs, otherwise known as “cadence”

Pace, or cadence, is measured in RPM’s (revolutions per minute).  Everyone’s physiology is different and determining what works best for each student/athlete requires some additional P’s – patience, persistence and practice.  In addition to your fitness level, cadence depends in large part on the gearing of your bike (a subject for another eBook) and your comfort level, or willingness to be slightly (or wholly) uncomfortable.  I would like to offer you some typical cadence ranges, it is a good starting point and with some riding and training we are able to help people to find their optimal cadence.  When riding on flat roads a good range to look for is 75 to 90 RPM with 70 and 100 begin acceptable on the low and high end, respectively.  Your cadence will naturally decrease while climbing; consider decreasing to as low as 60 (lower if necessary).  Again, different gears require difference cadence, for example if you use the large chain ring in the front (53) rather than the smaller ring (39) you will naturally ride with a reduced cadence.  Using the rear sprocket properly will help you climb properly; the smallest (11) will provide the most challenge while the largest (27) will make it easier.  Remember that your training goals are different than your riding goals; you train to get stronger so that you can be a better rider (more on the big ring/small ring conversation in another eBook).  Cadence on descents will depend on your experience and confidence.  In the early stages of your cycling career you will likely keep your feet parallel (the 3 and 9 position on the clock) and knees against the top tube.  On long descents, even though your bike is being carried by momentum, it is important to turn your legs around the pedals so that you keep blood flowing to your muscles.  One of the worst feelings comes on the short climb after a 10km descent if you haven’t turned your legs while descending for the past 15 minutes.  Think back a second to our conversation about the first P – Position – when we talked about the three points of connection – the pedals, the saddle and the handlebars.  You will know your cadence is too high if you are beginning to bounce in your saddle (doing so typically means that your joints are acting like brakes rather than your muscles doing the work); if possible switch to a more difficult gear in order to get yourself back into the rhythm of pedaling the bike properly and feeling the push under your foot.  Please keep in mind that everyone is different, the ranges I provided are a great place to start, proper coaching and training will help you find what is best for you.

T – 21 ARE?! YOU?!! READY?!!!

Three weeks to go!  The excitements is growing, the weather is becoming more cycling friendly and we are seeing more and more cyclists on the road; GFNY is right around the corner.

We begin to notice signs in Bergen and Rockland counties letting us know that a race is coming May 15th.

Have you prepared your race weekend checklist?  Plan to join us for Bike Expo on Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th.  I know you have to pick up your number and jersey and I know there are so many things to do but if you can spend some time at the Expo, get to know the other riders and racers and visitors – every US state and over 70 countries – get to know some of our sponsors first hand (cycling is one of the few sports, similar to NASCAR, where fan/participant.professional/sponsor interaction is not only prevalent but actually encourages!  Share your passion by bringing your family and friends with you and let them see what has inspired you to train throughout all these months.

Are you ready for the race?  Do you know the course well?  If you have an opportunity please listen to this GFNY podcast:

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Yes that’s me with the number 3 – famous for being passed by the most riders in the history of GFNY – approximately 4,000 per year!  But no matter, please take some time to listen to the podcast, it will help you understand the course and if you have any questions please ask me on Facebook or via email:   vito.valentini@humanpotentialcatalyst.com.

Three weeks remain – continue training but don’t overdo it!  Start planning your race day nutrition NOW, and if you haven’t decided what your on bike calorie intake is going to consist of please DO NOT eat or drink anything new on race day, or even during race week.  Test now, practice now, start visualizing the race now.

Tomorrow is our GS-GFNY ride to Bear; please pay attention to the route as you ride, make a mental note of the time and distance between the start and the schedule aid station in W Haverstraw and then again the time to the bottom and the top of Bear.  Tomorrow is NOT  a day for Strava PR’s – it is a day to learn something about your progress to date that you can then assess to plan for race day.  If you need some help, my email is above for you to use.

I am really proud to have been able to ride with our GS – GFNY C Group this training season; so many people make it a point to let us know how well the group rides – and I am especially proud of the progress our GAVUA Cycling athletes have made – watch for their stories beginning the week of May 16th!

Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

 

Vito

Our Campagnolo GFNY training season

T-67 = the number of days remaining to Campagnolo GFNY2016!  Are you ready?  Are you getting ready?  There are plenty of opportunities for you to get ready!

GFNY Sunday Group Rides
This is the link to the GFNY Group Rides information.  This lets you know what to look for each week – where Jared posts the rides so that you can sign up for the Sunday group ride.  I love these rides as much as I love the actual event.  While I have been passed by more than 20,000 cyclists over the past five years during the actual GFNY events – the memories of hearing “on your left” remain with me long after the event is over – nothing compares to the relationships that have come from our group rides.  I encourage you to participate in our rides.  It is an opportunity to ride the course prior to event day, an opportunity to meet riders who ride at the same approximate level as you, and a wonderful opportunity to meet some really great people!

The top photo is outside the Pie Lady of Nyack.  Bottom left: Gavia Cycling Girl Power also at the Pie lady.  Bottom right: our GFNY C Group always stops at State Line to regroup.

Gavia Cycling
I helped create Gavia Cycling almost immediately after GFNY2015.  It gave me an opportunity to continue training with an athletic purpose (along with other important purposes like finding great coffee, pie and muffin places with friends) throughout the summer and fall.  On the weekends I would leave my apartment in Fort Lee at 7:30AM, head down to Weehawken to meet up with anyone interested in riding, head back north to The Modern, then go on our rides.  Our groups varied in size from one (me) to sometimes as many as 20.  We had a great time riding together, we found some great pie and coffee and we improved our cycling skills and got much stronger!
At the end of 2015 we had an opportunity to open a small indoor cycling studio in Englewood Cliffs.  We mimic the joy and passion inherent in our outdoor group rides indoors and continue to build our Gavia cycling community.  We offer classes, coaching and training for cyclists of all levels; I love focusing my attention on new to moderate experience cyclists while Frank (Don Francesco) and Susanna (La Strega) focus on the intermediate to advanced cyclists.

Click on each photo for the captions:

We are finalizing our GFNY specific training camps; look for our announcement this Friday!

Beautiful roads, indoor studio, inspiring cyclists – time to #beready for GFNY2016!

ARE?!  YOU?!!  READY?!!!

Our Bear Mountain Experience

I was stronger on this Bear ride than any other and managed PR’s going up Bear, Perkins and several of the segments on Strava – my ride is HERE.

A Thank You
This blog is basically a big thank you to all the members of our cycling community – every single person who says “Hi Vito” as we see each other on the road, all the people who participated in our Gavia Cycling Group Rides throughout this summer and fall, the team at Strictly Bicycles who tolerate my bicycle mechanical ignorance and my unwillingness to let them say anything other than Campagnolo when describing components, Uli and Lidia for creating Gran Fondo NY and pretty much saving my life in the process, all of our Gran Fondo NY participants and last, but most importantly my wife Melanie who encourages me ride my bike and participate in anything to do with cycling.

As I write this I realize I sound like the guy who just won the Giro D’Italia; truthfully that is what I feel like – and that’t the point.  Each one of us has an opportunity to do our best and feel good about our achievements; we get in trouble when we begin to compare ourselves to others.  It took me 40 minutes to climb Bear yesterday, my friend Juan Carlos does it in less than 20 and I saw the results for GFNY Cozumel yesterday where Uli rode 160 km in less than 4 hours.  Those results are not attainable for most of us, but to know that someone you talk to a couple of times a week is doing something like that through sheer dedication, hard work, discipline means that we can do the same and improve as well.  You all have a good example right in front of you on our group rides – Omar Tejada .  Omar wasn’t a member of Gruppo Sportivo during our first year as a team.  I was one of the C Group leaders and being the widest person Heidi would let me stay at the front on the way on most of our rides; Omar would ride next to me at the front.  He wasn’t the Superman he is now, his cycling skills were ok but not great, and we walked up the climb just past Rockland Lake at least once together.  He fell in love with cycling and GFNY and when he became part of the Gruppo Sportivo he dedicated himself to proper training, nutrition and consistency – look at him now, talk about a role model for cycling!  Most of us can’t be Uli, some of us can be Omar, all of us can be a little more focused on our health and well-being, pick a goal and GO FOR IT!

Albert-Einstein-Quote

We can certainly use the achievements of others to believe we can reach greater heights but in the end we need to simply be happy with our own self-improvement – looking at life in an optimistic way – looking for what’s good no matter the current condition – and surrounding ourselves with people who inspire us, some unknowingly, is one of the greatest advantages we have in life.

Look (or lookout) For These People – AKA “The Inspirers”

Our Bear Ride
We planned to merge two groups on the ride; a couple of our Gavia Cycling members were not certain about riding the entire round trip so we made arrangements to have them drive to Nyack, we planned to meet there and head out to Bear; Ken was flying in from LA and wanted to ride, we thought it better to wait at Strictly Bicycles so he could do the round trip with us.  La forza del destino, as always, worked in our favor; Jared showed up unexpectedly so we had an opportunity to lead the group together through Piermont into Nyack and when we got to Nyack we found out that the last of the three people who were going to meet us by car couldn’t make it – off we went!  Jared pulled off at Rockland Lake and Thomas turned around in W Haverstraw, leaving 6 of us (Aleksandra, Avi, Hector (no, not Ektor), Ken, Kevin and me to continue on, against the wind as Bob Seger would say!
It was a little colder up North but we kept a steady pace, got to the bottom of Bear, stopped at the circle to take a couple of photos, and headed up.  My goal was to maintain a strong and steady pace and, having done the GFNY Podcast with Uli a couple of weeks ago I thought I would listen to my own advice (if you would like to listen to us discuss the entire GFNY course and things for you to consider, especially if you have ridden GFNY less than 6 times, please click HERE for Episode 22) where I talk about saving a gear – meaning try not to use your easiest gear not matter what, unless you really, really, really need it!  I did that all the way up, using my 39 x 25 on Perkins for maybe 100 meters total.
Listening to yourself is not always the easiest thing to do; my previous blogpost is titled “Burn the Ships” where I talk about not giving yourself an opportunity to make it easy on yourself – a couple of weeks ago the bearings went on my Campagnolo Euris wheels so I went back to my Campagnolo Bullets and kept the 11/25 cassette that had been installed on those wheels.  This was a major feat for me; I was prompted to switch to a 29 when, in 2014, a small group of us went to Little Tor and as soon as a made the right turn I said “not today boys”, got off my bike and walked up.

But then again, the riding and Melanie’s great eating habits have helped me tremendously over the past several years:

The descent off Bear was pretty cold and it was a little slow going until we got to the Cove Deli; one of our riders looked like it might be a long day for him and another had cramped on Bear, so I thought I would call and see if someone wanted to come and get us but there was no way to fit 5 people and 5 bikes into one vehicle (Aleksandra got caught between the first three and me and Hector so when the first three stopped at the deli she didn’t see them and kept going) and honestly, it wasn’t that bad, I was trying to be lazy, giving myself the “I came to ride Bear I don’t need to ride all the way home” but, as I said before, la forza del destino prevails, we ate something and headed home.  The ride home was the perfect way to end the day, it warmed up as we got closer to Fort Lee and we got to see some amazing sunsets; mostly we had that feeling of having accomplished something really special!

Sunset

Indoor Cycing Studio in Englewood Cliffs
Some other good news – we are opening an indoor cycling studio on 9W in Englewood Cliffs – and would love to send a FREE PASS to anyone registered for GFNY 2016.  Please email gaviacycling@gmail.com with FREE PASS in the subject line and we will get that out to you next week; we expect the studio to open mid-December and will offer indoor group cycling classes and GFNY speficic training courses on the latest Elite indoor trainers!Gavia Cycling Studio

Please join us for a group ride!

As always, if I can help you in any way, please feel free to email me at: vito.valentini@humanpotentialcatalyst.com.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Weekend with your friends and family!

 

Vito

 

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