Coach Mel: 60 Minute Workout – Four Minute Hills

This session was originally posted online with Triathlon Magazine Canada September 16, 2014 at http://triathlonmagazine.ca/racing/profiles/sixty-minute-bike-workout-mels-max-hill-reps/

2013 Utah champs

 With the XTERRAWorld Championships coming up for some of us, this week’s 60 minute training session focuses on working your maximum climbing power.  You can do it on the trainer or use a short hill that allows you to climb for a minimum of four minutes at maximum effort.  Your heart rate should reach over 90 per cent of your maximum by the end so don’t be afraid to really go for it.

 

Warmup (10 minutes):

Start with a 10 minute warmup slowly increasing cadence as you ride.  In the last five minutes increase cadence by  five rpm per minute up to the maximum cadence you can hold (aim for 130 rpm or more) in a relatively easy gear or low wattage:  something like 39 x 17 or 100 watts on the Powerbeam.

 

Final warm up preparation (10 minutes):

You can do these accelerations uphill or use the trainer to increase watts.  For a continuous 10 minutes, complete 15 second accelerations uphill or at high watts on the trainer, recovering for 1:45 after each.  Repeat five times.

 

Main Set (28 minutes):

The workout is a simple 4 x 4 minutes set with 3 minutes of recovery after every interval.  Push the hardest gear you can maintain at 80-90 rpm.

Don’t let your cadence drop below 80 rpm and try to keep at least the same gear or harder for each successive effort. If you’re on the trainer, hold your best average watts and be sure the last set is not lower than the first. You may want to start a bit conservative then blow the doors off the last one.   If you’re using a powermeter, these are meant to be above threshold efforts.

 

Finish (12 minutes):

Warm down is 12 minutes.  Ride the first five minutes at 120 rpm in a very easy gear to spin the legs out then easy warm down as you choose.

Visualize crushing the steep, stair-step climbs on the Maui course if you are preparing for Xterra.  The steep sections of the climbs on that course are between two and four minutes long before it flattens out slightly, so finding your max four minute efforts will be useful for that race.

All I Want For Christmas Is To Train In Italy

Melanie McQuaid and Fawcett & Company Cycling Expeditions Offer First Mountain Bike Specific Training Camp to XTERRA racers and Multi Day Mountain Bike Racing Participants

 

The first ever OFF ROAD training camp has been dreamed up and tested just in time for the 2012 season.  Looking for a way to put some miles in but have it be SPECIFIC to off road racing?  We have the tour for you which will fulfill your training objectives while ticking a box in your bucket list of lifetime adventures.  Tuscany, Italy will be the location of this incredible adventure.

Tour Overview

Fawcett & Company Cycling Expeditions is excited to offer an amazing 9-day mountain bike training tour from Rome to Florence. 3-Time Xterra World Champion, Melanie McQuaid will be our guest guide. There will be swim and run options throughout the tour.

Learn the MelRad Racing philosophy of training with coach and pro athlete, Melanie McQuaid while experiencing Tuscany – one of the most beautiful and history-rich areas of the world.

The 2012 tour will begin 2 days after Xterra Italy (www.xterraitaly.it) which takes place in Olbia on Sardinia, May 27th.

Participants on our tour will meet on the evening of May 28th in Rome at the tour hotel. We will start riding on May 29th. The tour will end on June 6th in Florence. The tour will be fully-supported with guides and vehicles.

Meals and accommodations are included in the price of the tour. We will be supported by our partners, Progetto Avventura of Italy.

Ride Overview

Our ride starts next to the Colosseum in the heart of Rome and concludes in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

This ride will incorporate ancient trails including Via Francigena – the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, forest roads, mountain biking trails, low-traffic secondary and unpaved gravel roads including the Strada Bianca or White Road, which criss-crosses Tuscany and passes through the most breathtaking scenery in the region.

The accommodations are a mixture of local farm-stays and small hotels. Tuscany is home to the Slow Food Movement and all of the food and wine provided is produced and prepared locally. e most challenging aspect of this ride is the cumulative climbing with an average 1,500 meters of climbing per day.

Participant Profile

This ride is designed to be challenging. Riders should be comfortable cycling off-road on mountain bikes for between 4-7 hours per day. This has been designed for XTERRA athletes with running and/or swimming options at the end of each day’s ride. However, pure mountain bikers are encouraged to join as well.  There is also a Companion Program which will feature visits to local points of interest – please contact us for details.

 

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Price: $3,350 CAD$ per person Size: Between 7 – 16 riders

Includes:

  • 9 days of training
  • Meals, snacks and water during those 9 days
  • 10 nights of accommodation (starting May 28)
  • Vehicle support and luggage transportation
  • Professional bike guides and drivers
  • Training tips from 3-Time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid

Does Not Include:

  • Flights (and baggage fees)
  • Services, transportation, food or accommodation before May 29 and after June 6
  • Meals on May 28 (arrival day)
  • Additional drinks or services at accommodations (you are on your own if you are REALLY partying)
  • Gratuities
  • Everything not explicitly listed under “includes”

Registration Procedure:

Procure and return completed registration form: chris AT fawcettexpeditions DOT com

Make a transfer of CAD$ 500 to secure your spot. Places will be reserved in the order of deposits received.

Minimum of 7 riders, maximum of 16.

Receive confirmation of registration e-mail from Fawcett & Co.

Send remaining balance of the tour cost at least 45 days before the start of the tour

Receive final confirmation e-mail from Fawcett & Co.

 

 

 

 

Substitute Spin Teacher – Coach Mel

I was the substitute spin class teacher last night at Procity Cycles as Mike Neill is in California pedalling his little booty off in Los Angeles.  Since I have a strong bias towards triathlon, I decided to give the class a fun session that also challenged the triathletes with some specific skills.

I heard more feedback about the music than anything else but I did see a lot of red, sweaty faces!  Mission accomplished.

If you want to try the workout I have posted it here for you to give it a go.  Good luck!  Click on Read More for Workout Specifics 🙂

Continue reading “Substitute Spin Teacher – Coach Mel”

The “Dump” Race

I have not been able to attend some of the races I have planned this spring, for various reasons, so I decided to create a local “race”. I felt that I needed to ride my new mountain bike at race pace and no matter how strongly you adhere to the intention of riding at race pace for 3 hours in the trails, there is nothing like a looped course to keep you focused and on track riding fast for an hour or so. Luckily, I have my fantastic training partners Ross, Palmer and Kelly who kept the effort honest and made the day at the "Dump" (a popular Victoria trail network on a landfill next to the municipal dump) so much fun. We tried to convince Plaxton, Sydor, Virge and Cruikshank to join us as we all met early that morning and rode out to there together but I think just the whole “triathlete” thing freaked them out, haha! I think the four of us agreed that the race simulation was awesome training and the sore legs, sore arms and overall fatigue associated with it meant we had a solid day. I have done two of these race simulation efforts in the past two weeks which means I can compare lap times on my Fourstroke to my new Team Elite 01 and gauge my efficiency on each bike. So cool.

Why did I not go to the mountain bike races down south? First off, I wanted to make sure my bike setup this year is 100% right. Moving to a new bike took me a bit of time to get dialed in and the new hardtail just reached North America so I needed some time to get used to it. All part of a new bike, I guess and now we have the money set up. By staying home I could evaluate how I feel on the bikes under familiar circumstances at home… rather than going to a race and feeling terrible and not knowing whether it was bad legs on the weekend or an error in my setup, which was an error I made earlier this season. I stand by this decision now. Without travel and taper for big races I managed to fit another two weeks of hard running and swimming in with my mock “races” on the mountain bike. Pretty intense training and Ross has even been complaining of fatigue having only done the weekend portion of the schedule but he did awesome in our race regardless… so more on that….

Continue reading “The “Dump” Race”

Why You Should Train With Percieved Effort

A long time ago (2007) I went down to take part in some physiological testing during a training camp in Temecula, California.  As part of Powertap training camp, Alan Lim conducted step tests to determine lactate threshold for all the campers.  I normally do four of these tests per year, with one in the early stages of my base preparation phase for the season.  In the early season, it is important for me to see my yearly starting point.  It is encouraging when my January results reflect previous results for late in the previous season, which is an indication that overall my form from year to year is improving, but that is not always the case.  I always look at test results as a relative measure rather than an absolute indicator.  Just as you can have good and bad days racing, so too can your tests vary according to how you feel.  Never beat yourself up about test results… there is something called competition that truly measures individual ability.  Only races will really indicate your true athletic potential.

Alan measured an interesting marker that during this year’s test.  In addition to watts, heart rate and lactate values, Alan measured our perceived effort and graphed all of the numbers together.  Perceived effort was first quantified by a man named Gunnar Borg.  He created a 15 point 6-20 scale to produce estimates of exertion.  This scale has also been adapted to the CR10 Scale as follows:

 

Continue reading “Why You Should Train With Percieved Effort”

Coach Mel: Sport Specific Technique and Strength Part II

Cadence work mostly increases your heart rate through leg speed and builds speed endurance but not necessarily leg strength. Our next workout will focus on building leg strength. Doing both the cadence work and this on-the-bike strength work together is a great idea, since they will complement each other.

If you are doing long rides outside, I would suggest adding some hills. When you ride the hills, instead of trying to go up it fast, put your bike in a big gear and grind it out at about 60 rpm. This will keep your heart rate down and turn the climb into a leg-press workout to build strength in your climbing-specific muscles. You can do this workout off road with a lot of success. If you need to do your long rides indoors still, I would suggest turning up the resistance for 3-8 minutes with 5 minutes in between to mimic a hill interval workout with low cadence. You can do these intervals both seated and standing but make sure you are comfortable seated because you need to maintain traction on your mountainbike.

On days where you don’t have time to ride for a long period of time, but have been doing gym workouts lifting weights, this time of year might be a good time to turn these workouts into a circuit. I do this workout at home with a ball, wobble board, weights and Powercranks. Powercranks on the trainer are a challenge. They are cranks which are on an individual clutch system which basically means you are single-legged pedaling all the time. You need a fairly high resistance to keep on top of the cranks, so it becomes a strength workout and you also get the benefit of the technique improvements associated with single leg pedaling. Double bonus! If you do not have Powercranks, or you don’t have space at home to do this kind of workout, do it in the gym with a spinning bike or on your trainer doing some single leg intervals instead of just pedaling.

Continue reading “Coach Mel: Sport Specific Technique and Strength Part II”

Coach Mel: Sport Specific Technique and Strength Part I

Now that January is in full swing, it is time to start thinking about a bit more sport-specificity. However, for most of us, the weather is, if not worse, not much better than the past couple months. During the winter, sports that are more winter-enjoyable can fill our activity plate, but since the season sneaks up on us quickly it is time to narrow our focus a little bit. While we continue the staples of indoor training I have some ideas on how we can build a bit more cycling work into the program without plugging in yet another movie and mindlessly spinning on the trainer.

I think that strength training should continue through January and February, but I like to make the training more sport specific by doing some of the strength work on the bike, adding little workouts to increase the amount of cycling volume I am doing and turning my routine for core and limb strength into a circuit routine. I will give you some ideas in two parts that will allow you to continue to work on your technique for cycling and still address muscle imbalances that you might be targeting, while at the same time building some volume on the bike. The good thing about these workouts is that they also will improve your technique. I think a lot of people overlook how beneficial a nice, smooth pedal stroke and quiet upper body can be for your cycling.

Continue reading “Coach Mel: Sport Specific Technique and Strength Part I”

I Thought I Would Be Faster ???

Okay, the mystery of a fast bike split has just been solved by me? train specific!!! Well, knowing that sounds really lame, the solution really is that simple. Just because you consider yourself a strong cyclist does not mean you will blaze the bike split at any triathlon. How many incredible roadies never quite made it in mountain bike? How many rock star triathletes have not lived up to potential at Xterra? These aren’t indications of lack of talent, just lack of specificity. So for all of you mountain bikers in the audience wanting to time trial better, I have learned some things which may help you?.. Continue reading “I Thought I Would Be Faster ???”