2013 Clinic Week 7

April 19th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 7

I didn’t want to jinx things by putting up a 7th clinic week. During the Series we normally lose a week of racing due to snow/ice. I intentionally didn’t work on the 7th clinic even as the 6th week approached. Of course since I didn’t jinx things we will have a 7th clinic and now I’m scrambling to get things down.

There are three main parts to the last clinic of the Bethel Spring Series.

First, for anyone that wants to review etc, I’ll be glad to go over whatever you want, both in chalk talk and on the bike. This will happen after the main stuff, the two sections below.

For the main part I’ll go over some tactical stuff. Real basics. Bike racing revolves around drafting. Once you break the draft or the draft becomes ineffective then your fitness comes into play. If you’re fit/strong then you need to make efforts that neutralize the effects of the draft or take place in situations where there’s no drafting possible. Basically it all revolves around using wind and terrain to tire your opponents.

  1. Climbs and tailwinds reduce drafting effectiveness. These are the times to attack. If you are attacking then commit. Once you have a gap then throttle back and hold a high, hard tempo. The idea is to make it last more than a lap or whatever.
  2. Crosswinds are ideal for attacking. Get to the downward side of the road (if the wind is from the right then get to the left side) and just drill it. If you’re strong you’ll look back and see the field disintegrate before your eyes.
  3. Headwinds reduce motivation. It’s a terrible time to attack but a great time to solidify a lead. Don’t ease but make sure you leave enough in the tank so you can push on the other parts of the course.
  4. Once in a break you need to level out your effort. Don’t go too hard on the hill. Maintain pressure on the flats.
  5. Attack when the front is not cohesive. If the front is fragmented, has gaps everywhere, little groups here and there, it’s a great time to attack.
  6. You should be able to close a 10 second gap on your own. It’ll be hard but possible. When launching a counter attack it’s the same as an attack. Use the wind, terrain, and commit.
  7. Make your efforts count – have a goal in mind when you push. Attacking just for the sake of it probably won’t be productive. Of course your goal may be to attack just for the sake of it. I know I’ve done that. It’s fun as long as I can recover. It’s cost me a chance at a place also.
  8. If you’re climbing the hill at a certain speed you’re using a certain amount of energy. It doesn’t matter if you’re spinning like mad or moshing a 53×11 – you’re putting down the same power. It may feel better to push but it’s easier to recover from a spinning type effort (aerobic) rather than a pushing type effort (muscular).

Finally for the fluency stuff I’ll go over some foundation level skills. These are things you can do on any easy ride, while you wait in a parking lot for the group, stuff like that. I went over a few things before – looking over your shoulder, riding one handed, initiating a turn. I’ll cover what I can but I want to include the following.

  1. Throwing the bike (at the line)
  2. Picking things up off the ground
  3. Wiping tires while riding
  4. Trackstands
  5. Aero tucks

As always please feel free to comment (and if you want to make the comment private please say so).

Ride safe and have a great season!

2013 Clinic Info

March 2nd, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Info

2013 Clinic Introduction (required reading before your first race).

Clinic Week 1 Syllabus

Clinic Week 2 Syllabus

Clinic Week 3 Syllabus

Clinic Week 4 Syllabus

Clinic Week 5 Syllabus

Clinic Week 6 Syllabus

Clinic Week 7 Syllabus (bonus/spare week, TBD)

2013 Clinic Week 6

February 25th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 6

Week 6 – Chalk talk – Actively helping teammates – leadout, pulling, other high intensity work. Sprint distance calculation (revs back from finish line).

1. Warm up – pace line, double, pair up to be “teammates”. Keep speed reasonable, 20 mph on the flats. Remember you have plenty of time to ride hard in the race.

2. Lead outs – One rider leads out the other to base of hill, the rider getting led out will jump out of saddle, shift up one gear, and then sit up and wait. Alternate. Idea is to hold higher speeds so that the leadout rider is tired. Goal speed is 30 mph. Better is 35 mph. Illustrates how helpful a leadout is. If a rider isn’t up to it then they can sit on a lead out.

Don’t sprint – just do the lead out and then roll up the hill easy. The rider that follows will be fresh so be kind to the one that was doing the leadout.

3. After 20-25 min go easy. Do contact pace line drill to cool down a bit before race.

Homework: Practice going 200-250 meters very hard while seated (accelerate standing), try to hit 35 mph. This is a leadout type speed that will be effective even in the Cat 3s. If you need a slight downhill going into a flat that’s okay.

If on a team think about a leadout for the coming week. Be honest with each other. Select the strongest finisher on the team to support for the finish. Work out a plan of attack for the next race (break guys go on breaks, sprinter sits in and waits). If not on a team think about who to follow, where to jump. Use past history as an example – racers who sprinted well last week will probably sprint well this week.


2013 Clinic Week 5

February 25th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 5

Week 5 – Chalk talk – Thinking tactics. When working with a teammate or friend you shouldn’t work if they’re trying to get something done. Resist doing the “Me Too” attack that is too common in the 5s and 4s.

1. Warm up – contact. Keep speeds low, use the small ring, 10-12 mph to start. Try to do some leaning while climbing (seated). Keep in mind that bumping requires you to be well grounded so you won’t be bumping much while standing. Focus on maintaining contact.

2. Two groups , instructor goes “off the front”, other instructor stays in group. One rider bridges quickly while another sits on. Pairs go up the road, only one rider pulling of the pair. The other rider is “marking the move”, i.e. following but not helping. This is how you ride if you have a teammate up the road. Idea is that “teammate” does not help the others chase. Illustrates benefit of not working.

Switch roles so that everyone that sat in the first round does the chasing the second round.

Chasers – try to bridge really quickly, very hard, sharp efforts. This is good speed work.

“Markers” – sit on, read the wind, and note just how little work you’re doing while the rider in front is really working hard.

Homework: If on a team think about teamwork for the following race. Think about trying to get a teammate into a move. Think about sacrificing a non-sprinter to lead out the sprinter for the finish. Consider trying to launch a break with similarly strong riders. If not on a team then think about allies you may have in the field (friends, friendly riders, etc), how to set up for sprint, what to do if someone breaks away.

2013 Clinic Week 4

February 25th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 4

Week 4 – Chalk talk – Race speed, bridging gaps, attacking.

In races you need to be prepared for speed. Races may average a “normal” speed, like 24 or 26 mph, but the bits that count are a lot faster. It’s quite easy to hit 32-34 mph on the first (slightly downhill) stretch at Bethel, and if there’s a tailwind on the backstretch, similar speeds there. Even the uphill sprint can hit 28-32 mph.

This means you need to be prepared to hit over 30 mph, at least momentarily. Remember that gaps are fatal, and the faster you go, the closer you need to follow. Make sure you keep the gaps closed and be prepared for speed.

This means you need to do some efforts in training to reach higher peak speeds. You’ll see quickly that being on the drops helps a lot, both with power and aerodynamics. It’s normal to get a bit sore in your glutes as well as your other leg/hip muscles.

1. Warm up – contact. Keep speeds low, 10-12 mph at first. You’ll probably be riding the brakes a bit to keep from coasting up to higher speeds. No contact on hill unless you and your partner are okay with it. Keep gaps closed. Small ring. Focus on contact. Tactical drafting stuff will come next.

2. Attacks/bridges. Pace line. Two instructors per group. If groups are 8 riders or more then double pace line at about 25 mph, 18 mph on hill (speeds may differ based on fitness/wind). An instructor at the back and one rider “attacks” and gets a small gap. They ease into cruising speed.

The next rider at the back rider attacks, rides up to the front group, and gets onto a wheel. They should  hold the same speed as the rest of the lead group. When last two riders (one instructor, one student) are left they should go together. Depending on the situation instructor can lead or follow, but whatever order one will follow the other up to the front group.

This exercise is useful for realizing the difference in energy required between closing gaps or bridging to an attack versus steady state riding in the group or in the break.

Keep repeating with different combinations. The idea, within reason (you’re all about to race after all), is to try and cross the gap decisively but ease up so that you coast into the front group, you don’t have to jam the brakes on.

This is also illustrative as far as learning what kind of gap a rider can cross. A general rule of thumb is that a solo rider can cross, with a bit of difficulty, a 10 second gap. That means that to start a successful breakaway you need to have a 15-20 second gap when you have your group sort of “set”. At that point the break has germinated and has a chance to keep going.

This drill will take most of the warm up time.

Homework: Practice short bursts of high speed when you do some intervals or similar short intense training. Your goal speeds should be over 30 mph; 35 mph is great. If on a team (whether official or just friendly allies) think about launching one rider off the front while the other marks the group. You can also think of permutations like launching a teammate/friend across a gap into a break, etc.

2013 Clinic Week 3

February 25th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 3

Week 3 – Chalk talk – Wind direction and shelter. Look ahead of rider in front.

Where is the Wind?

To draft effectively, you need to know where to seek shelter. To do that you first need to know the wind direction.

To figure out wind direction:

  1. Put your head up a bit. It helps if you’re on the tops, but you can do this from any bar position.
  2. Feel the wind hitting your head.
  3. Turn your head side to side.
  4. When it feels like the wind is blowing into one ear, that’s where you want to put a sheltering rider.
  5. When I explained it to some hot blooded Juniors, I told them that the wind in their ear will feel like someone blowing softly in their ear. They could always remember how to figure out wind direction after that!
  6. You may find that the wind is coming almost from the side. Other times it’ll be head on. Shelter appropriately. Even a slight angle makes a huge difference. If the wind is coming from your 1 o’clock (i.e. just to the right of forward), you’ll be 100% exposed if you’re sitting to the right of the rider in front of you. But if you move left just a couple feet, you’ll be sitting just to the left of the rider in front. Now you should be 100% sheltered and saving maybe 100-150 watts of effort.
  7. As a relative thing, for many years I couldn’t finish a race effectively if I saw more than about 2-3-4 minutes of wind in an hour crit, minus the last lap or two. In some races I’d set a goal of seeing only 60 seconds of wind or less. Proper drafting allowed me to do this.

1. Warm up – contact/bumping. Speeds should be quite low at first, 10-12 mph on the flats. No bumping on the hill – use climb time to relax a bit before doing some more bumping. Keep gaps closed. Small ring. Focus on contact, leaning into the other rider. You’ll have practice doing pacelines next.

2. Wind direction – find shelter from wind in appropriate spot behind the rider in front. Slightly left, slightly right, etc. Single paceline. Leader should select proper place on course to give everyone shelter.

Remember wind direction usually changes when you go around a corner or ride along next to a building. You should always be aware of wind direction and take it into account for your racing strategy.

3. Echelon/Wheel following drill – “echelon” across the road, if wind permits. Else follow in draft, choosing one side or other based on any slight wind from one side or other.

Homework: Practice reading the wind. If riding with someone else stay in their draft. Keep on the other drills – checking back by looking down, looking over your shoulder, drinking without looking, one handed riding, and starting well when you have a foot on the ground.

2013 Clinic Week 2

February 25th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 2

Week 2 – Chalk talk – using the drops, shifting in drops, push to turn. Climbing on the hoods.

1. Warm up – double pace line. Keep speeds reasonable, 20 mph on flats, 15 mph or slower on hill. Keep gaps closed. If smaller groups then  single pace line. Instructor may bump you.

2. Out of saddle – in the drops. Head/torso basically move in straight line, bike rocks left/right. Best for high power, like starting a sprint or trying to break away.

Note: The drops give you the most control so this is best for intense situations or any time something might happen. In other words most of the time on flatter courses, definitely in corners and downhills. For slightly more information read here.

Start with a slower motion, lower rpm, until it feels natural. Then speed it up.

Practice shifting a gear each way while out of saddle on drops (not applicable to those with that weird Shimano lever or with downtube shifters).

3. Out of saddle – on the hoods. Ditto on head/torso. Best for climbing out of the saddle. Practice shifting a gear each way.

Most useful on the hill or at low speeds when you don’t need as much control. I use the hoods most of the time when climbing the hill out of the saddle. If sitting I’m generally holding the tops.

Homework: Practice being in drops and accelerating/shifting while standing. Try it at low pressure first then higher efforts. Practice climbing out of saddle on hoods, shifting. Bottles without looking, looking back without swerving.

2013 Clinic Week 1

February 24th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Week 1

Week 1 (or any new rider class) – Chalk Talk – the 12 items in the Intro, quickly. Goal is 10 minutes.

1. Warm up – pace line. Pace at 20 mph on flats, under 15 mph on hill. Stay together – you’ll have plenty of time to go fast in the race.

Parallel lines in corners. Keep gaps closed. Easy on the brakes.

Practice not over compensating when closing a gap or needing to ease up a bit. New racers tend to accelerate too much and then brake too much. Not only is it dangerous but it’s also very inefficient.

If you feel really uncomfortable following someone directly behind them at less than 5 feet then follow them  a foot to the side to stay close. For now if people are peeling off the front to the left then stay to the right of the rider in front of you. You need to get used to riding close. Shelter from wind is secondary for now.

This is the case for any time you’re riding in a group, whether in a clinic or even in the race.

2. Bumping drills – contact on front and back straight, curve too. Keep speed low, like 10-12 mph at first (you’ll have to drag the brakes to keep from inadvertently speeding up), use the small ring, focus on contact. Line up parallel, bump, then right side drops back one person, repeat.

Contact may occur at shoulder/tricep area for shorter riders, forearm/elbow area for taller rider.

You should holding the drops if possible. Shorter riders may need to use the hoods initially.

Remember contact is NOT an option for forcing a weak tactical hand. This is training for you so that you can stay upright if there is contact for any reason. Usually it’s an error/incident – someone turned in late or someone is swerving to avoid a crash. However there are tactically deficient racers who physically force their way through others – you don’t want to crash because of them. If you have a weak tactical hand you need to improve it using tactics and strategy.

3. When standing don’t shoot bike back. Keep pedaling, get over front of bike, prevents bike from shooting backward a foot when you stand. Keep aware every time you stand up on the hill.

4. Push to turn – push right side bar to swerve/turn right, push left side bar to swerve/turn left. This is called “counter steering” in motorcycle terms. Check your six (look down or turn around) and then practice moving a couple feet to one side, a couple feet to the other.

Note: this is not “counter steering” like when you turn into a skid when driving a car.

Homework: Practice clipping in, drinking without looking, looking back without swerving, standing without shooting bike back. Practice initiating a turn in real corners (we don’t have them at Bethel). Try riding one handed holding the bars in different places to get an idea of how the bike handles when you go over a bump etc. If you have teammates do some bumping practice.

2013 Clinic Intro

February 24th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2013 Clinic Intro

For 2013 the clinics will be focusing more on drills and less on chalk talk. In order to do this everyone will need to review some of the basics that we covered at the beginning of the clinics last year. The information below applies to all levels of racers but it’s critical that the information be fresh in the minds of the Cat 5s.

Basic Stuff You Should Know Before You Show Up At Your First Race:

1. Look down to look back. You can see a good 5-10 feet behind you just by looking down. This is usually best when you’re checking if you’re clear but feel a bit uncomfortable turning around (due to being close to other riders, bumpy road, etc). It’s useful to know what’s going on just behind you.

2. Look over your shoulder without swerving – You can drop the outer arm (the one you’re looking over) off the bar, put that hand on your thigh, or drop your chin to your shoulder. All those things try to keep your shoulder from rotating in the direction you’re looking. If your shoulder rotates then you pull on the bar and start veering to the side you’re checking. In other words if you look over your left shoulder and you pull a bit on that shoulder you’ll steer a bit left. Not good, especially if you’re looking back to see if there are cars coming up on you.

3. Check your six before moving over. Check before you move. 6″ gentle lateral movement is okay. 12″ is starting to push it – you really should check before making such a move. Over a foot you should be checking for sure. If it’s tight just look down. If it’s not tight then you can look back. If you feel a bit uncomfortable then look down.

Tip: uncover your ears. It really helps with situational awareness.

4. Starting off from a stop. Use your clipped in foot to get going, don’t push off with your slippery and delicate cleated cycling shoe.

5. Don’t swerve around road features. Critical! There is nothing out there in the Bethel course that requires a major swerve. You can ride though the manhole covers, the sewer grates are covered, and if you have your hands on the bars you’ll be okay through everything else. Running over something like that is okay. If you swerve you increase the chances of taking someone out. If you need to swerve then you made a mistake. Think ahead. If you are going to hit something then unweight the saddle a bit. You don’t have to stick your butt up into the air, just unweight a bit and let the bike move around.

6. Stay parallel to others in corners/turns. Critical! The best cornering line in a group is to corner with the group. It’s not “outside-inside-outside”. When you’re on a highway on a left curve you don’t go from the right shoulder to the left lane to the right shoulder. You stay in your lane and move only if it’s clear to move.

This is particularly important when climbing as a group up the finishing hill. Stay parallel to those around you, don’t squeeze one side then the other.

Example in this clip at 7:41.

7. Drinking without looking down. Practice on a trainer or while leaning up against wall. Practice putting the bottle back without looking, that’s the key. You might position your foot at a certain point and use your leg as a reference point for slipping the bottle back into the cage.

A good example of this in the clip here at 2:40 or so.

8. Make sure your bike is mechanically sound – bars and stem tight, chain doesn’t skip if you slowly backpedal in the small chainring, small cog (no stiff links). In the spring many racers have newly assembled bikes and the first few races are the first few super hard rides on said bikes. You don’t want to learn that you forgot the carbon assembly paste on your bars when you’re sprinting up the hill, you don’t want to find out you put the chain on wrong when you’re 100 meters into your sprint (it happens every year), and you don’t want to learn that you didn’t glue your tubular on well enough when you go through Turn One.

9. Tubular tires, if applicable, should be glued extremely well. If in doubt have the tire reglued. If it takes less than 15-20 minutes to get the tire off then it probably wasn’t glued well enough. 30 minutes to remove a well glued tire is common.

10. Cleats are in good shape (wear indicators not gone, no damage to cleat like cracks etc). I learned this the hard way personally. Check your cleats.

11. One handed – near stem is best. If riding one handed then holding the bars right next to the stem is most stable. A sudden jolt will affect your stability much less than if you’re holding the bars on the drops or the hoods. If you’re just drinking from a bottle or something then you should probably keep holding the drops. If you’re adjusting something or eating or doing something that will take a while then next to the stem is good.

12. Rules and regulations – Free Lap. Helmet. Yellow Line. Getting pulled. Free Lap is a chance for you to get back in the race after an incident. “Incident” includes a mechanical failure (flat tire for example) or a crash (you hit the deck). It is NOT a mechanical if you assembled your bike wrong (loose part, bead unseats on clincher, dropped chain, loose wheel). If you have a “mechanic’s error” problem then you will not get a free lap. Likewise if you get delayed by a crash you do not get a free lap. You must chase.

Helmet – any time you get on the bike to go somewhere you must be wearing a helmet. Not on a trainer but any other time you have to wear a helmet. If you do not there is an immediate fine. YOU CANNOT RACE until you pay that fine.

Yellow Line – there is a partial yellow line rule on the course. If you cross the yellow line to move up then you will be disqualified. There are enough helmet and bar cams out there that this is a distinct possibility. If you are on the yellow line and getting squeezed out then you must either speed up, slow down, or stay on the yellow line. You cannot go over the yellow line. Obviously if there is a crash then you can take avoidance measures.

HOMEWORK: Look down to look back. Look back without swerving. Drink from a bottle without looking down. Ride one handed while holding the bars in different spots – drops, hoods, tops (near stem). Check over your bike to make sure everything is okay. Practice starting off by using your clipped in foot, not the foot on the ground (it’s best to practice this by unclipping and putting a foot down at every stop sign, every light – you’ll get the hang of it quickly).

Oh and watch some of the Bethel Spring Series clips and get an idea of what the course is like, how the field moves around it, etc.

2012 Clinic Info

February 24th, 2013 by sprinterdellacasa Categories: Clinic No Responses
2012 Clinic Info

Intro Clinic

Clinic 2A

Clinic 2B

Clinic 2C

Clinic 2D