Group Riding 201

In our article “Group Riding 101,” we detailed the key basics of riding in a group.  In this article, we will go into the most common group riding pacelines, the single paceline and rotating paceline, and how to properly work your way around a paceline.  

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Single Paceline

The single paceline consists of an acceleration (“fast lane”) and deceleration (“slow lane”).  This is a very commonly used paceline because it is fairly easy to navigate, takes up minimal space and can be modified to the needs of the group very easily.  

Rotating Paceline

The only variation from the single paceline is that there is a constant line of riders in the deceleration lane and the acceleration lane rotating fluidly from one to the other.  “Pulls” on the front are usually very short with the rider in the acceleration lane passing the rider’s front wheel in the deceleration lane and then they drift into the

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deceleration lane waiting for the next person to pass them.  This is the beautiful paceline that you often see in breakaways of large races where riders are constantly moving up to the front and then rotating to the back.

Pulling Off

Getting off the front of the group is something that is a highly desired end.  Legs are burning, lungs are screaming, the heart is pumping at capacity and the desire to end the effort is nothing short of coveted.  Before jerking the bars to the left, you must consider the position of any riders in the direction of your planned direction (cars too).  As you are passing the rider, you should wait to begin drifting over until your hips have passed the hoods of the rider that you are overtaking.  Once you begin pulling off, you will signal the rider behind you that you are wanting him/her to take your position with a flick of the elbow. When pulling off, you are trying to leave just enough room for the rider to be able to pull past you, ultimately keeping the group tight knit and more aerodynamic.  Pulling off to the center line not only decreases the efficiency of the group by decreasing the draft of the rider behind you. It endangers you by putting you in the path of potentially passing vehicles.

Getting Back On

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The hardest part of the paceline, for many, is getting back into the paceline.  The number one mistake that cyclists make is to wait too long to accelerate to try and get back onto the paceline.  If your group is consistent in rotating through, you can continue to look for the same rider at your shoulder as a marker but you will often have to sight back to find the last person.  Once the last person is found, you will wait until your front skewer is even with the other rider’s rear skewer. At that point you will want to provide two to three powerful pedal strokes and drift in behind the rear wheel of the last rider.

Ready to keep improving your group riding knowledge? You’ve graduated from 201 and are ready for the next level: Group Riding 301.

Does Your Event Day Nutrition Suck? Create a Plan with These Tips!

Over the past several weeks it has become increasingly apparent that there is one thing that can not be discussed enough with athletes.  We have found that athletes of all experience levels including those with decades of endurance training to newer athletes, Multi time Ironman competitors to first time sprint distance triathletes; we have even recapped unfortunate race results with athletes, that are not currently working with our coaches, to come up with solutions that have lead to peak performances since then.

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What is this one thing?  Many athelete’s nutrition plans suck! We aren’t simply talking about calories here.  We are talking the whole deal. Fuel, fluid and frequency

There is one simple solution for this and it is the age old 7 P’s philosophy.  Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  

Athletes focus meticulously on specifics of the race, often over prioritize equipment selection, train diligently sacrificing sleep and family time and game plan pacing and strategy.  Somehow, through all the deliberation of event planning many overlook nutrition. The fuel that keeps you going and gets you to the finish line.

Why do so many athletes do such a depressingly poor job of this? It is more than likely because it creates fear and uncertainty.  This uncertainty creates paralysis and a nonchalant approach. 

We recommend you begin planning now. Reduce your worries and keep it simple, knowing that your original plan is likely to change during training and with trial and error.  You can begin by focusing on these key factors:

  • Begin with the most basic.  What will you eat prior to the event?
  • Total kJ burned – kJ roughly equate 1:1 to calories – If you use a HR monitor be warry of the calories it says you are burning.  They often tend to be high, sometimes up to 30%
  • Total caloric need – this is not likely to be 100% of your total burn but more than likely 40-60%. Intensity & time dependent. 90g of carbohydrate/hour is currently believed to be maximum uptake.
  • Total fluid need
  • How to achieve total calories from fluid and solids

If you are looking for more detailed information you can go to our blog on Race Day Nutrition 101 Uncertain of how to get your event day nutrition plan started?  Schedule a consultation today!

Is Inseam Length a Good Way to Set Seat Height?

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There are several fit methods that exist where either inseam length or leg length is the measurement that is used to determine seat height based off an equation.  Where as this is an option that could help you determine a reasonable seat height we do not feel it is an optimal, or even a viable option for finding your seat height.

When initially hearing the thought behind these methods they make sense.  Your leg extension is the primary factor in the equation of saddle height and based on a fraction of this you could feasibly create an accurate saddle height.

Upon greater inspection and comparison with motion capture, of how individuals interact with a bicycle it has become evident that there are many factors not able to be considered when solely using inseam length/leg length.  These factors include the three key angles (ankle, knee & hip) that vary from one cyclist to the next, how you determine where you sit on the saddle as well as pelvic rotation. With these factors, and a firm understanding of bicycle fit, we find it very difficult to believe that one simple measurement could take all of these factors into consideration. 

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING BICYCLE FITTING OR ARE CURRENTLY STRUGGLING WITH AN UNCOMFORTABLE FIT, PLEASE CALL US AT 850.408.6820 OR SEND US AN E-MAIL AT [email protected]

Training Peaks – Fitness, Fatigue & Form What does it mean?

Form, Fitness and Fatigue.  It is the first thing you see as you log into your training Peaks app. Many athletes buzz over it but for some, it is an immediate cause for anxiety.  Why does that number keep climbing? Pink, that is close to red and it is my fatigue rating…Is it a bad thing that number is so high today?  OH NO!  Why is my form in the negatives?

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Fatigue (ATL) – Fatigue is a representation of acute training load.  This is the impact that each individual workout has on the overall training load.  A multiple hour workout, or a workout with very high intensity will have a greater ATL score than a recovery workout or a very short run.


Fitness (CTL) – Fitness or Chronic Training Load is an indication of the cumulative effects that training has had over time.  With consistent training and workouts this will continue to climb.  During periods of lower training stress, recovery weeks and down times your CTL will decrease.  You can even see periods of decrease when doing incredibly hard VO2 intervals.  Because this is based on frequency, intensity and duration a change the decrease in duration can cause a downward shift in CTL.


Form (TSB) – Form or Training Stress balance is the difference between Chronic and Accute training loads resulting in an estimation of your level of fatigue/freshness.  This is a gauge of where your fatigue level and a low or even a negative number is a good indication that the body is being stressed, which, with recovery, will ultimately lead to fitness gains.

It is important to know that each of these measures is directly linked to your threshold (power/pace/hr) and without accurate ranges, these numbers will hold very little validity.  

It is also very common for these numbers to seem exaggerated when coming off of longer bouts of little/no activity as the data is starting from a baseline of zero.  These numbers will stabilize as the algorithm has more data to process and a better understanding of what your training load is.  Think of it like Garmin’s Recovery score (if you are familiar with that).  When you don’t exercise much for 3-4 weeks and hop back into it your Garmin gives an alert recover of 76 hours, or some other crazy value, before your next workout.  Fatigue does not feel high and you are ready for the next day’s workout but your Garmin thinks you have been a lazy bum and have come in off the couch.

Our Thoughts Regarding Mid-sole Cleats

In a recent article posted by Triathlon.com there was discussion of a mid-sole cycling cleat placement in cycling shoes.  This mid foot cleat placement is nothing new to the cycling world.  It has been an idea for decades now and has resurfaced many times as the latest and greatest thing for bicycling performance.  It seems strange to think about having a cleat in the middle of your foot, mostly because fore foot cleat placement has been the only thing many cyclists have ever witnessed.

The article sings the praises of mid-foot cleat placement, and there are benefits, but there are also a few key details that are a detriment.  We are going to break this down into several key areas include Fit and Function.

BIKE FIT

At Science of Speed, we live and breathe bike fit, so we will begin there!  Mid cleat placement does have merit when it comes to bike fit.  The calf muscles do not provide much benefit, regarding propulsion on the bike but act more as a stabilizer for the ankle.  We will even place cleats further back on shoes of riders with larger feet to help reduce the lever arm, and ultimately reduce calf strain.  With a mid-foot cleat placement you will reduce this more significantly and only moderately utilize the calf for stabilization which should ultimately result in fresher calves for run propulsion.

This mid-foot cleat placement will also result in a lower seat height.  As you reduce the impact that “ankling” plays on total leg extension.  This, with changes made in cockpit setup will result in a smaller frontal area and mean a slightly more aerodynamic position.  Which, in a world of marginal gains, this could result in sizable increases in aerodynamics.

As we have not personally tried this mid-foot cleat placement, the one thing we are uncertain of is, how does it fit, feel and function as a rider is out of the saddle climbing?  This may be a position that is more suited for a flat, straight and fast course.  If there is that big of a benefit, we believe that professional cycling teams who focus on the small areas, such as Ineos, would have shoes for riders with mid-foot placement for time trials, and forefoot placement for climbs and technical courses where safety would be a concern.

FUNCTION

Unfortunately, in this article, normalized power is misrepresented.  This is not so much a representation of “efficiency” with reference to the benefit of your position, but a representation of a rider’s smoothness on the ride.  Normalized power is an algorithm that is designed to quantify the stress that accelerations create on the body and therefore shows a higher number if a file has more accelerations.  With course, conditions and fitness all being the same, average power would be a better representation of whether the cleat placement did result in statistically significant power outputs.

It pains me to see that the shoe manufactures are demonized in this situation.  This lack of adoption of mid sole could be because it has the potential to be very dangerous.  If you have ever heard of toe overlap you understand why mid-foot cleat placement can be, not only a scary thing, but a dangerous thing.  This toe overlap impacts your ability to pedal through corners and not clip your front wheel with your shoes.  With current bicycle geometries, fore foot cleat placement this is a small issue, but by sliding your foot forward on the pedal you are now putting the ball of your foot into the front wheel when your pedal is in it’s forward most position and turning what was once a small problem, into a major safety concern.

Lastly, in regard to functionality we have to touch on the triathlon specific area that may not have been considered.  Transition. If you run through transition with your cycling shoes you have either personally fallen or witnessed someone else fall because of how slick cycling cleats are.  Now you are going to be either, skating on the cleats, or feel like you are trying to walk on stilts as you are perched upon your Look, Shimano, or even scarier, Speed Play cleats.

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a mid-foot cleat placement and make your decisions, please keep in mind three key factors of entry.  First and foremost is the price.  Just like anything, being an early adopter of a product, theory or technology, you will pay more.  In this case the “more” could be upwards of $1500 in some circumstances.  You can also expect there to be a bit of a learning curve (no pun intended) when it comes to cornering as you learn what your new limitations are.  Last, but not least, assess the potential benefits of this cleat placement and will it compensate for you factors that could arise in transition.  If you are not racing for the win, running the entire run leg or comfortable and confident handling a bike, it may not be the best option for you.

PR Your Next Run The Easy Way

At a recent local 5K I noticed many of the athletes were running what I would consider the longest race possible. Now, that sounds kind of silly because the course is the exact same for the winners as it is for the very last person crossing the finish line. But, the largest difference you will see between the top 10% of people finishing the race and the remainder of the field is how they were running and the way that they approached the race. When you look at the top 10% of the field, you notice that they will shorten the course as much as possible. No, I don’t mean cutting corners or cheating. What I mean is they were coming out of a corner and sighting ahead to see what direction the next turn was and being deliberate about the route they take between each turn. For example, if one of these runners was coming out of a left-hand turn and could see that in a few hundred yards the next turn was a right-hand turn, that runner would begin slowly working their way across the road towards that right-hand turn. It may sound insignificant but doing this saves both time and distance; especially as the races get longer or more technical with twists and turns. You will find this particularly true with longer distances such as a half-marathon or full-marathon.

So, when you’re out on your next run, start to consider this: How can you shorten the distance between one turn and the next? What is the straightest line?

Prevailing theory is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This would go to say that if you are following curve of the road between two points, or if you’re zig-zagging back and forth across the road, you’re not taking the shortest, fastest route possible. Even if you’re not looking to win the race; if you are someone looking to PR or hit a personal best for each event, you’ll find that this is a very easy way to do that.

PR your next race the easy way by focusing and being more diligent about the path that you are running.  

Athlete Spotlight – Evans Rohrbaugh

If you follow the hashtag #SoSAthlete, you’ve probably seen SoS Ambassador Evans killing it. He’s getting in his workouts and bringing his all to events. We recently sat down with Evans to learn more about his background in sport, and find out why he’s loving his experience with Science of Speed and Coach Brady.

SoS: Evans, tell me a little bit about your background in sport. How did you come to be active and what have been some of your proudest accomplishments?

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Evans: I’ve been on 2 wheels since I was 12. I started out in BMX in the early 80’s (like a lot of kids of my generation,) then I got a MTB in the early 90’s. Shortly after that, I got my first road bike. I raced it and MTB a few times in the 90’s. Then, in early 2000’s, I joined a team and started racing road and cyclocross. In 2003, I got burnt out and didn’t touch a bike again until 2009. One day, I looked in the mirror and I was 55lbs more than when I stopped riding. I realized riding was what truly made me happy and it’s been flat out ever since. Since 2009, I’ve raced road, cyclocross, Track (velodrome), mountain bike and, for the first time recently, duathlon. I decided that and time trials were what I wanted to concentrate on in 2019.

SoS: Before coming to SoS, had you worked with a coach before?

Evans: I have worked with 2 different coaches before.  One sucked at communicating, the other got busy, stopped communicating, and raised his rates.

SoS: What a bummer. How has your experience working with Coach Brady been different from your previous coaches?

Evans: Brady has been great to work with. He communicates well , has my plans set up in advance so I can work them into my life, and I can tell he loves to ride as much as I do !!

SoS: Glad to hear it! What goal events do you have coming up?

Evans: As of right now, my main goal is a good placing (age group) at Duathlon Nationals in April.

SoS: We know you can make that result happen. What are some of your favorite results that you’ve seen since becoming an SoS Athlete?

Evans: Super happy with my results so far in running, fifth in age group in my first off road / trail race, sixth in age group at a four miler , and a tenth in age group in my first 10k.

Ready to see great results and love your coaching experience? Contact us today for the scoop on custom coaching!

Group Riding 101

A group ride is a great thing!  It increases one’s ability to go faster while simultaneously decreasing perceived exertion.  This is often done by drafting off of the rider in front of you in an effort to reduce the forces of wind (natural or created by you) on you as a rider.

There are three basics to group riding that will make other cyclists want to ride with you and even fight over your wheel because they trust you.

Be Predictable

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When riding in close proximity to other riders, the most important thing you can do is be predictable.  This could mean that you are pointing your hand to where you are going, are telling riders of debris and anything in the road, but, most importantly, it means to be slow and calculated in your movements.  Unlike in basketball, you want to telegraph your movements so that others know what to expect of you. No swerving, panicked braking or other erratic movements.

Pull Through Smoothly

It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a group ride, especially when it is your turn you go to the front and give it everything you have to “help the group.”  While in theory this is a very selfless act, it actually puts a strain on the entire group. The people sitting on your wheel will have to close the gap and the rider who has just pulled off the front of the group now has to work very hard to get back on.

We recommend you use your tools to help you with this.  As the person pulls off in front of you and it is your turn to pull through, cadence and speed should not change drastically.  The force applied to the pedals will increase, as you are catching more wind, but, by maintaining speed and cadence, you will ensure that the effort stays the same for all people involved.

Watch What is Ahead

It is easy to fall prey to the nasty habit of staring at the wheel of the person in front of you. However, your eyes should be focused over the should of the rider in front of you.  This allows you to see what is going on up the road and respond before it becomes a panic situation, but still allows you to use your peripheral vision to maintain a safe distance to the rider in front of you.

When on the front of the group you are responsible for the safety of the entire group.  It is important that you are scanning the road for hazards and signalling for them in whatever manner your group deems as helpful.

Are you unsure how to get into a group ride and what to look for?  Be sure to read our blog on your First Time in a Group Ride and learn some best practices for your first time riding with a new group.  Maybe you have that group and are wanting to learn more!  Continue on to Group Riding 201 and increase your knowledge

​Back In The Saddle

Sometimes, athletes step away from training due to injury, other times to reflect on their goals. No matter the reason, absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder. Even if you’re looking forward to starting a new training cycling, returning to a routine after a break has its difficulties. Long-time SoS Athlete Kearstin recently started up her custom coaching again after a hiatus. We asked her about her experience in returning to her training regimine.

SOS: What’s it like to come back into training with your coach after a break? Is it easier because of the customization of your workouts?

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KR: I think the hardest thing is seeing how much power and endurance I lost before training again. At first, I was really embarrassed by not being able to do rides I used to do, but Coach Brady has been the perfect amount of push and compassion that I need in a coach. It is definitely easier with the customization of workouts! I tried making a comeback on the bike by myself and I just needed more structure and guidance. That’s what I get from Science of Speed.

SOS: What goal events are on the horizon for you as you return to training?

KR: I’ve had one elusive goal for the past 3 years now. I’d like to be able to qualify for the Race Across America. To qualify, I have to complete 370 miles in 24 hours. That is what I’m currently training for and the race is in February. While I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit that goal this next February, I’m just excited to be getting my fitness back!

SOS: Overall, how have you liked working with your SoS Coach? What have been your favorite results that you’ve seen in the past from your customized training?

KR: I love working with SoS. I’ve used SoS on and off for the past 3 years and I’ve always been my best self on the bike when I’m being coached by them. While the results are slow going at the moment, I love what I’m seeing now. I honestly feel like we are starting from ground zero and every week I see improvements or, at the very least, I feel good about myself.

Looking to get back in the saddle and rededicate yourself to your goals? We’re here for you at every step of your athletic journey. Let’s get you ready to return to the race course. Contact us today.

How to Properly Train with Heart Rate

Congratulations on your new heart rate monitor!  Adding a form of tracking to your training helps you to increase the accuracy and consistency of your efforts.  While using a heart rate monitor in your training, there are two things to consider.

HR is a Response

When using Heart rate as a training tool, it is important to realize that heart rate (HR) is the response to the work that you have done.  This is crucial in the effectiveness of your training because what your heart rate is currently telling you is symbolic of the workload that you completed 20-60 seconds prior.

Cardiac Drift

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Cardiac drift is the upward trend in heart rate during longer sustained efforts.  It is an increase in heart rate that is caused by a more highly activated Sympathetic Nervous System (think fight or flight response), increased core temperature and total body water losses.

With this new knowledge in mind, it is important to pair your workouts with perceived exertion. In other words, how hard do you feel you’re working? This will provide you with a system of checks and balances that will keep you from beginning workouts too hard and ending them too easy as you would if you were to maintain a flat heart rate for the entirety of your efforts.

Take your training to a new level with one of our Static Training plans!  These low cost, high output training plans will produce amazing results when paired with your new knowledge of heart rate training.