Training works, it really works

It’s been about a year since I officially switched into pedaling mode, and I’m seeing a 20% increase in my climbing fu. I guess kids and work are no excuse to suck.

Last fall and winter
The twins were born. Work was crazy. Finished two books. Outside rides became rare, local and short. Simple but brutal strength work. Twelve weeks of structured trainer sessions. Increased focus on pedaling skill. Pedaled into spring stronger — and more comfortable — than in years.

Last spring and summer
More road. More trail. Less dirt jump and pump track. Learning more about pedaling. Coaching more XC racers (and helping them find power they didn’t know they had). Paying attention to how I turn the cranks. Feeling steadily stronger on the bike.

This fall and winter
Very few outside rides. Three hike/DHes at Left Hand Canyon. One trail ride. One cross race. Some coaching. Some errands on the bike. Increasingly complex strength/mobility work. Lots of trainer sessions focusing on pedaling technique and sustainable power. Coach Lester Pardoe at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine laid down the base; I’m building at home. With flat pedals.

The flats are giving me an even closer awareness of what my feet — and ankles, and knees, and hips, and torso, and shoulders, and arms, and hands, and head! — are doing, and that’s making me a better pedaler. I feel like I’m getting stronger. And smarter.

I live at the top of a two-mile, 1,000-foot climb. Average grade: 10 percent. Max grade: 17 percent.

I’ve done this climb many times, on all sorts of bikes, in all sorts of conditions, with different levels of fatness. Tip: Less fat is better.

This past fall, a solid climb took 26 minutes. I haven’t timed the climb since I started working with Lester in November.

In the past two weeks, I’ve done the climb three times. I rocked the S-Works Tricross with flat pedals, focusing on steady pressure and good form. I did not push hard. I did not suffer. I just tried to pedal well.

And the times:

26:00 for the past year
21:40 last Wednesday
21:08 last Friday
20:18 today

Wow! I had no idea that was possible. We’re talking about a 20 percent improvement in climbing speed — with no increase in suckitude. Actually, it sucks less because I feel better.

It just goes to show what improved fitness, better technique and the inevitably increased confidence can do for you.

Do you have a kid? Multiple kids? Do you have a job? Multiple jobs? Those are not valid excuses to suck.

If you want to pedal better, embrace pedaling as a skill and do some smart training. This site and the books (MTB, BMX) have lots of pedaling tips, and I’ll post more info about training protocols.


— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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