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  • Low intensity "off" season training - Anyone can benefit

    As most of you know, I have been offering a series of “low intensity” rides, intended not only for people who ride like that all the time, but as a specific “off season” training opportunity for stronger riders. In it’s third year, I have found the LI approach to be highly beneficial to my own cycling fitness. Over the last few years, I’ve ridden six to eight weeks each mid winter, keeping the effort at 70% or less of maximum sustainable heart rate. The result has been loss of weight, leaner body mass, and fewer injuries when I start riding harder later in the spring.

    The approach is based on the work of long-time ultra distance cyclist John Hughes and Dr. Phil Maffetone (the “Maffetone Method”). They aren’t the only ones. Peter Sagan, the rising star of professional cycling uses a modified version in which he continues to climb and do interval training in the “off” season but at 70% of the effort he would do them at peak training effort. I’ve mixed in some of that this year, with no ill effects.

    There are OTHER quite contradictory approaches. If you follow Chris Carpenter or Tom Danielson’s coaching methods, they stay intense year around. You have to decide for yourself what works, but athletes who experience repeated injuries, burnout, or weight gain (especially body fat increase), might benefit greatly from the low-intensity approach. Here’s generally how you do it:

    • Determine your maximum sustainable heart rate. There are several methods, but what you can maintain for 20 minutes on a flat road is a good one. Mine’s about 165-170. There are adders and subtractors based on age and fitness level.
    • Design and execute all your workouts to keep your heart rate under 70% of that level. This takes some discipline, especially in our geography. Hills are hard to avoid, and midwinter often brings a lot of wind. I found myself riding at less that 5 mph on Greensprings one day uphill into the wind in my lowest gear and I still couldn’t keep my HR below target.
    • Some club members use power meters. A simple approach is to take what you “normally” do and keep it down. If you normally ride 150 watts, then keep it to 100.
    • You can also use a level of perceived effort method. At the easiest level, you can carry on a normal conversation, using full sentences and completed thoughts. As you go up the scale, it declines to a few phrases, then a word, then an incomprehensible grunt as you try to chase Bob M or Dennis C up a hill. The low intensity approach keeps you chatting away for hours.
    • Most of the coaches in this method will tell you 8 weeks of this is the minimum. 12 is better. Then you ramp back up to normal slowly.
    • Diet plays a role. Most recommend higher fat/higher protein during this time, but a lot of coaches are going to that approach all the time anyway. The Really Big Thing is NO SUGAR. No cookies, candy, baked goods with added sugar, etc. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. I like to make yogurt based smoothies, but you’d be surprised at how much added sugar is in some yogurts. Read the labels carefully.

    The results?

    • You teach your body – your liver, specifically – to use more fat. At least that’s the theory with some evidence to support it. In fact, if you dig deeper into the approaches recommended, most of them include not eating carbs or not eating at all on any ride under 4 hours. Your body should be able to sustain an all-day effort on fat alone, but you have to stay aerobic and low intensity to do that. You still have to manage electrolytes – I do this with tablets, but you could use pickle juice or something like that with little sugar.
    • As a result of that, you’ll get leaner. I typically lose about 1 pound a week off my 180-pound frame during this time. Some of it comes back as I add muscle mass during the climbing season, but overall I’m lighter now than I was three years ago.
    • The low intensity approach gives your muscles and connective tissue time to heal from a summer/fall of riding the Lakes Route! At the same time, because you are still riding and still putting in some significant miles, you keep your joints well lubricated and your overall fitness does not really decline. Each year I have done this, I have begun the spring “ramp up” at a higher baseline than the year before.

    Another related thing I’ve started incorporating year around is “periodization.” I’ll do another writeup on that, specifically, but Hughes really goes into this. Basically, if you are training for anything – a century, double century, whatever – you train 2-3 weeks “on” and one week “off.” I did this last year with good effect. The “off” week isn’t really that “off” but you typically don’t do any major climbs, hard interval type workouts (like riding with the Wednesday group), or century-distance training rides.  It’s kind of like a “mini” low-intensity period – but just one week out of four.

    If you’ve missed my Low Intensity riding series, you still have time to take advantage of this approach. You could start, say, first of next month and do it for 8 weeks. Then start ramping up to your regular riding level. It’s also helpful if you have REALLY taken time off – that is, you ate your way through the Holidays and the bike got rusty. Diving right into a heavy riding routine, especially if you are an, ahem, older rider, is a good way to get hurt.

    Let me know if you have questions.

  • Making Cycling Irresistible

    Ever wonder what it would be like to ride your bike without fear of the risk posed by nearby motor vehicles? If such a place existed, would you choose to live there?

    I believe it is possible to make your town a bicycling paradise. Far fetched you say…given the existing absence of bike facilities on many streets; or where they do exist their narrow width, or close proximity to high speed, high volume motor vehicle traffic. But it is possible, even in your hometown, provided you live in one of Oregon’s metropolitan areas.

    Oregon law, more specifically the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR) requires that local governments in metropolitan places like Medford and Grants Pass, among six others in State develop regional transportation plans that include “safe and convenient” bicycle transportation systems (OAR 660-12-000(1)c. In addition, the TPR explicitly requires cities in Oregon to “avoid principal reliance upon any one mode of transportation,” and to provide for a “significant increase in the share of trips made by alternative modes, including walking, bicycling, ridesharing and transit.” The TPR also anticipates that cities in metropolitan areas “will accomplish reduced reliance” (on the automobile) “by changing land use patterns and transportation systems so that walking, cycling, and use of transit are highly convenient and so that, on balance, people need to and are likely to drive less than they do today.”

    The TPR was adopted in 1991 and 27 years later there hasn’t been much progress (except in Portland). But that is about to change. No more will it be sufficient to put bike lanes on arterial and collector streets and call it good. That was how most local governments in Oregon approached providing for people riding bicycles. Gratefully, few people have died using them but that’s largely because few people used them and those who did were “strong and fearless” or were otherwise skilled in “riding in traffic.”

    But the future of cycling has turned brighter. Most people who have studied the issue know that separating cyclists from adjacent traffic (such as using a protected bikeway), and controlling speeds and traffic volumes are all critical to creating a low stress cycling environment. Which, in turn, is critical to people actually using a bicycle for transportation.

    Many are skeptical that such changes are possible in their city and whether people would choose to cycle if the bike facilities were low stress. Skeptics should read Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.

     

  • Study Says - Cycling Does Not Harm Men's Sexual Health

    I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

    Cycling does not harm men’s sexual health, study says – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42651568

  • Commuting by Bike 101 clinic at Medford Cycle Sport

    Saturday Jan.13 from 2pm-3pm Commuting by bike 101 clinic at Medford Cycle Sport.

    Commuting by bicycle can be so rewarding to the rider, even through the “off-season”, but there may be questions for the first-timer.

    Medford Cycle Sport is there to help! Come to their Commuting 101 clinic, to learn from the experts!

    All Siskiyou Velo members receive 10% discount with purchase.

    Medford Cycle Sport

    1340 Biddle Road

    Medford, Oregon 97504

    Call (541) 857-0819 for more info

  • Club Goal for City of Medford Transportation System Plan

    The membership, at the Club’s annual meeting, unanimously endorsed having the following goal to be a part of the Medford Transportation System Plan (TSP):

    The development of a safe and convenient bicycle transportation system that will serve the needs of youth, adults, and senior cyclists.

    The Board, at a follow-up meeting on January 10th, concluded that several additional cycling groups should be listed; including people with disabilities, and families. The additions are important and reflect a growing consensus among elected and appointed governmental officials, cycling advocates and transportation planners that bike facilities should be designed for “all ages and all abilities.”

    The underlying rational for this approach is that a person should not have to be brave or have special training to ride a bicycle in urban areas. That is not the case presently and helps explain why fewer than one percent of people, living in Medford and other cities in the Rogue Valley, choose a bicycle as their primary means of travel to work. That compares to 10 to 30 percent of all travel (not just commuting) in other cities where bicycle facilities are “low stress.”

    Members are encouraged to review a December 2017 publication by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Designing for All Ages and Abilities. This document serves as the Club’s vision and basis for more extensive comments on the Medford TSP.