Proof that riding in the pack matters

Every Thursday evening Patrick and I ride in the Great Valley Practice Criterium – it’s a practice crit where a bunch of guys (usually 30-50 guys) from all levels – pros to hacks like me – show up and ride a loop over and over again. There are two small rises, but it’s generally flat. I downloaded the data from last night’s ride and thought it was interesting. Take a look.

great valley speed data

What you’ll see are three humps. The first hump was my warmup. Then a pause at the start line. The second hump is us getting things going. The pace started out slow, then picked up speed, topping out at 30.79 mph (remember, this is flat). Then, I blow up, hard, recover, and ride solo for the rest of the ride.

The reason I think this is interesting is because you hear Phil Liggett all the time talk about the benefits of riding in a pack – well, this is proof. When I was on my own, my heart rate dropped by 7 bmp, so I wasn’t working as hard as I was in the group, but not much. Yet, look at the speed difference!

Moral of the story – if you can manage to sit on someone’s wheel and hide in the pack, do it. Of course, take your turns out front and share the burden, but the more time you can spend in the pack, the better off you are.

from Velominati: The Rules

the rulesAs Patrick and I are now part of a team that rides in races and employs “strategy” (, we’ve been enlightened on some of the rules of cycling. Because I’m a good guy and care about the well-being of my teammates, I’ve decided to share such rules. Unfortunately, we have a few offenders:

Rule 9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass.  Period. (Therefore those of us who rode in LiveStrong ’10, we are all badasses. Congratulations.)

Rule 23: If it’s not cold or wet and you are still wearing shoe covers because you’re a pussy, your name is probably George Hincapie (Gerald)

Rule 30: Ditto for frame-mounted pumps.  Either Co2 cannisters or mini-pumps should be carried in jersey pockets.  The only exception to this rule  is to mount a Silca brand frame pump in the rear triangle of the frame, with the rear wheel skewer as the pump mount nob, as demonstrated by members of the 7-Eleven and Ariostea pro cycling teams. As such, a frame pump mounted upside-down and along the left (skewer lever side) seat stay is both old skool and euro and thus acceptable.  We restate at this time that said pump may under no circumstances be a Zefal and must be made by Silca.  It is acceptable to gaffer-tape a mini-pump to your frame when no C02 cannisters are available and your pockets are full of spare kit and energy gels.  However, the rider should expect to be stopped and questioned and may be required to empty pockets to prove there is no room in them for the pump.  Said Silca pump must be fitted with a Campagnolo head. (Steve)

Rule 31: Spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets, or in a converted bidon in a cage on bike. (Wyatt)

Rule 32: Hydration packs are never to be seen on a road rider’s body.  No argument will be entered into on this. (Doug)

Rule 42: A bike race shall never be preceeded with a swim and/or followed by a run. (A shitload of us. Damn.)

Rule 54: Aerobars or other clip-on attachments are under no circumstances to be employed on your road bike.  The only exception to this is if you are competing in a mountain timetrial. (Gerald)

Rule 62: You shall not ride with earphones. Cycling is about getting outside and into the elements and you don’t need to be listening to Queen or Slayer in order to experience that. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and pain, not in whatever 80′s hair band you call “music”.  (Steve)

Rule 65: Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence and as such must be meticulously maintained.  No squeaks, creaks, or chain noise allowed.  Only the soothing hum of your tires upon the tarmac and the rhythm of your breathing may be audible when riding.  When riding the Pave, the sound of chain slap is acceptable. The Principle of Silence can be extended to say that if you are suffering such that your breathing begins to adversely effect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped. (Mike)

Rule 74: Computers, GPS, PowerTaps, SRMs;  If you are not a Pro, then you don’t need a SRM or PowerTap.  To paraphrase BSNYC, an amateur cyclist using a power meter is like hiring an accountant to tell you how poor you are.  As for Garmins, how often do you get lost on a ride?  They are bulky, ugly and superflous. Ditch the HRM and ride on feel; little compares to the pleasure of riding as hard as your mind will allow. Cycle computers should be simple, small and mounted on the stem.  And preferably wireless. (Crap. Me, Gerald, Mike, Chris, Steve, Doug, and probably more)

The full list of rules

Kick me in the gut core workout

I just completed (“completed” in the sense that I attempted every exercise at least once) this core workout from Beginner Triathlete. I thought I’d take you through my mindset throughout:

Exercise 1: Standard crunch – I’ve done crunches since I was 6. Is this even worth my time? [eight crunches in] Those wings were probably a bad idea. [six crunches in, third set] I think a shotgun just backfired in my belly.

Exercise 2: Knee up crunches – I hope by saying “keep the small of your back against the floor” they mean everything except my neck, cuz that’s all that’s up.

Exercise 3: Hip lifts – Nope, no lifting here. Just swinging. And why the f*ck can’t I straighten my legs?

Exercise 4: Oblique crunches – Either I have some bomber obliques or I’m doing this wrong. Chances are I’m doing this wrong.

Exercise 5: Side plank dips – Up until this point I had done 3 sets of ten each. Halfway through the first set of this one, I got up and checked the site thinking I read it incorrectly. It’s not clear, and there’s no way in hell I can do three sets of these, so one set of 15 it is.

Exercise 6: Oblique leg extensions – I’m warm now, feeling good. [also thinking the guy on the website has ridiculously short shorts – half expecting a nut to go AWOL]

Exercise 7: Supermans – I can actually do all of these, and it feels like it’s doing some good rather than pain. Progress.

Exercise 8: Bridged leg lifts – My elbows hurt.

Exercise 9: Pushups – Not like benching at all, really. Shit.

Exercise 10: Heel touches – Why are my heels so goddamn far away? Why are my arms so short? I imagine myself looking like an upside down turtle, helplessly waving my arms.

Exercise 11: Bicycle crunches – I got through six. Stanza licked my face – broke my concentration. Her fault. No way I’m doing another set.

Exercise 12: Half up twists – 6 complete reps in and I’m grunting, moaning, and Stanza looks considerably concerned. I flop to the floor after eight, my stomach is heaving, and then it sets in: I’m a fat bastard.

So kids, have fun with this core workout. The guy says it’ll help swimming, biking and running. So far all I have is a sore lower back and a bruised ego.

See the full workout

P.S. Seriously, the guy’s shorts are way too short.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist

time crunched cyclistLike many of you, my time is limited to train. With an active three year old and another on the way, it’s tough to fit in a workout after a hard day’s work. As a result I scooped up a book by Chris Carmichael (Lance’s trainer) called The Time-Crunched Cyclist and it has made a big difference. The book teaches you how to maximize your workouts if you only have six hours per week to train. I used the workouts and principles (high intensity, low volume) in his book to train for the ride I did back in April and it definitely helped me prepare. All you need is a heart rate monitor (you can get one for $30) and the desire to get in better shape. There are different programs last from 8-11 weeks, so right now is the perfect time to read the book. Feel free to holler if you have any questions.
-Dave P.