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Yo Kristin(22 posts)

Yo Kristinlonefrontranger
Mar 21, 2003 2:24 PM
I noted your response in the "pet peeves" thread below re: body position while climbing.

IMO this is one of the biggest reasons people say "I can't climb" and is one of the easiest things to fix, ASSUMING you practice a bit. Learning to climb has very little to do with genetic ability or strength, and a lot to do with technique, relaxation and practice.

When you throw your upper body forward to get out of the saddle, it is analogous to tossing a 2x4 chock under the back wheel. It effectively stops the bike's forward momentum and causes the "reverse punt" motion of throwing the into your paceline partner's wheel that causes so much angst in group rides and races.

I've taught my students the 2 following drills for proper standing technique and balance. The goal of the first drill is to teach you the powerful initial "launch" stroke that is the key to either sprinting or climbing out of the saddle. Do this drill on flat ground or on a slight false flat. Put your bike in the biggest gear - the key is to shift *before* you stand to put you into somewhat of a difficulty by being overgeared. Use your "chocolate foot" (favored / strong leg) to initiate the first pedalstroke. You will be forced to pull strongly through and around the entire pedalstroke while you simultaneously float up just a couple inches off the saddle, keeping both hamstrings strongly engaged to get on top of the gear. You will also have to learn to pull laterally back with the opposing arm as you're pulling up on the pedals to help the pedalstroke come through. When you learn to do this smoothly, you will feel an instant difference in how much more powerful the acceleration is from simply "flopping" forward and trying to weight the pedals down.

The next drill is done on a small, gentle climb with a steady grade (like a bridge or overpass). The goal of this drill is to teach you proper balance without having to depend on either the gear or the handlebars to hold you up. Core strength becomes a crucial factor in this, so if you have a yoga ball at home, I'd recommend augmenting this drill with crunches on the ball to help achieve more competent core muscles. Do this drill in your *smallest* gear. Put the bike in gear going up the small hill. Now, practicing the "hover" position from the first drill, and with a relaxed hand position on the hoods, stand up over the center of the bike, and pedal smoothly keeping your cadence comfortable. DO NOT "CHASE" THE GEAR!!! Instead, maintain a low speed at a comfortable cadence. The whole point is for you to learn to balance and pedal comfortably without the back pressure of a big gear to hold you up. My teammate calls this drill "bike yoga". This one is tricky, especially without someone watching to help show you how, but you'll eventually get it.

Once you learn both drills, you will be amazed at your ability to stand up and climb for extended periods of time, without or just barely elevating your heartrate.
LFR, you would be a very good coachDougSloan
Mar 21, 2003 2:34 PM
Ever consider making a living at this? Your explanations are easily understandable, complete, and obviously based upon lots of experience. You're an asset to our community, for certain.

USCF Sport Coach license for 3 years ('97-99)lonefrontranger
Mar 21, 2003 3:06 PM
Thanks Doug, I know that was sincerely meant.

Out here without a marquee name it is impossible for me to make a living at it. In Cincinnati, no one cared that I was "just" a Cat IV woman racer, and I even had a couple Cat III guys come to me as students because they were frustrated with their program or coach. One of them ultimately went on to race for what is now the West Virginia / Go-Mart elite team. However the Colorado locals seem to insist that their coach be someone who's been a big-name pro, regardless of their approach, compassion or frankly sheer competence. I've seen a few of my teammates injured, burnt out and misdirected by the type of coach I term "phys ed instructors", but that's a rant for another day.

Coaching has exactly nothing to do with palmares and everything to do with the ability to observe and analyze. Heck, my own mother who has not ridden a bicycle for over forty years is a better cycling fit and position analyst than most shop rats I know, because she listens and pays attention. My personal coach has been racing for less than half the years I have and is ten years younger to boot but has more coaching savvy in his little toe than many of the big-name guys who command big ticket prices. An added bonus is that my coach lives and races locally so he can ride with me and observe my racing on a regular basis, which is invaluable to me.

The best equestrian riding instructor I ever had, never rode a horse in his life. He was confined to a wheelchair at the age of three by polio. His empathy for the animal coupled with his impressive imagination, analytical skill and powers of observation meant he could exactly describe to almost any rider precisely the moves and techniques required to maneuver 1,000 pounds of squirrelly horseflesh through a demanding route of 5' obstacles. He was an amazing man.
Mar 21, 2003 3:21 PM
Yes, very sincere.

So, you are saying that you would do it if you could make a living at it? Maybe it's really a matter of not so much your personal wins, but those of your "students." I never heard of Carmichael before Lance. Maybe you just need a couple of clients to do well, and have them tell everyone who their coach is.

It's got to be more of a calling for you than sitting behind a computer all day (no insult intended, for that's largely what I do, too). Have you thought of internet coaching (combine the two)?

You are right about listening to people. The one cycling coach I ever personally hired just didn't listen to me. For months, I told him I wanted to ride more, faster, and that I was getting way out of shape. He just would not listen, or maybe I just didn't trust him. It seemed like he did nothing more than e-mail me the same canned program he did all his other clients, entirely ignoring the fact that I road raced as well as ultra raced.

I think everyone could benefit from a coach, as much as you don't want to represent yourself in court or perform self-surgery (both of which I've done). There is something very beneficial about someone else objectively analyzing what needs to be done.

Good luck, whatever you do, and thanks again for your input here. As with many people, I'm sure, I often read and follow your advice without even commenting.

Mar 21, 2003 3:42 PM
I have been mulling over the coaching thing for over a year now. Lots of name brands around here. Most getting pretty darn large $$ for doing as you say, sending canned workouts by email monthly. To get one who'll give you a whopping 2 hours per month of face time, you're looking at nearly $5000 a year. For a guy who really has no pro/1/2 aspirations and doesn't make much at his day job? I don't think so.

Therefore, still searchin'. I've got much of the fitness type knowledge to get there, however, I equate myself to the mechanic whose car is all screwed up and the architect who has a disaster of a house.
you know, this is true for a lot of the best coachesbianchi boy
Mar 21, 2003 8:02 PM
Living in NC, basketball is the big sport. Two of the best coaches in college basketball -- Dean Smith of UNC(now retired) and Coach K at Duke -- were both so-so players who weren't good enough for the pros. But they can both outcoach just about anyone because they understand people and the game. I've observed the same thing about a lot of the best college football and basketball coaches. With few exceptions (like Steve Spurrier), the best coaches were not star athletes during their playing days.
Boy you said it. Listening is key. Big bike shop plug inside.Kristin
Mar 22, 2003 8:16 AM
LFR. Thanks for the drills. I think that part of my problem climbing really has to do with bike fit. I just got fit yesterday. I'm still VERY forward on the bernardi and my back is not strong enough to keep my in riding position with out LOTS of weight on my hands. That makes it difficult for me to hover above the saddle for more than a few seconds at a time. I know I could gain fitness and toughen up on this bike over time, but I'm not sure I want to. Its been a long time since I enjoyed a bike ride and didn't worry about pain and injury. I think I'd rather go the route of setting up the bernardi for my current fitness level or getting another frame and then learning to ride.

What you said about listening is spot on! I spent 3+ hours yesterday afternoon with Robin at Licktons and it was like a breath of fresh air. I've recieve a bunch of fit advice (some I purchased) from various shop rats. Robin was the first person to ask me what my goals were and (get this), "how do I feel on the bike?" Before now, everyone I've talked to about fit had all these preconceived notions about stem length, height, saddle to bar drop, ect... Or they try to plug everything into some formula. With Robin's help, some serious time and the right questions, we pretty much figured out what I need and I have a couple options on the table. There is no doubt, they've got my future business and referals. Sometimes you don't know what you're looking for until you've found it. Licktons is, hands down, the best shop I've been to. Its funny. I expected it to be a high zoot place. If I had never heard of them and happened to walk past their store front, I would have called just kept walking. A hidden treasure for sure.

I can't tell you what I'm about to do to Bernardo. Lets just say I'd be scoffed at, hauled out and publically flogged by the RBR community. But, I don't care. I miss the days when I ENJOYED riding a bike. I'm sad to say that I haven't really enjoyed it for a while. And I tricked myself into thinking it was okay to sacrifice comfort and enjoyment for fashion. I don't care what it costs me--I'm going to correct that mistake. I won't be high zoot and probably no one will compliment my bike. But what do I care? I'll have the sun on my face, spinning through mile 80 hoping the day never ends. That was my goal when I bought my first bike. That should have been my goal when I bought my second.

Oooo. This turned into an unintened rant. Anyway, the drill is great--all of your drills are great, and I've got them in a little file. I'll add this one too. Thanks!!!
Boy you said it. Listening is key. Big bike shop plug inside.Jon Billheimer
Mar 22, 2003 9:06 AM

I hope EVERY newcomer to road cycling on this board reads your post. Comfort and fun is EVERYTHING!!! We all endure pain and drudgery in our jobs, right? Unfortunately you were done a disservice by bike shop morons and ended up paying too high a price.

With respect to your core fitness issues, try incorporating back extensions into your fitness routine. Also lots of Swiss Ball work. Good luck and hang in.
Tasty stuff, thanks. New drills to me. nmNo_sprint
Mar 21, 2003 2:39 PM
doesn't the first drill put lots of stress on the knees ?PeterRider
Mar 21, 2003 2:47 PM
yes, if you do not perform it properlylonefrontranger
Mar 21, 2003 3:10 PM
Remember, you are standing, not sitting back and pushing through the quads. The key is to pull up via the glutes and hamstrings, not through the knee joint. The whole idea is to avoid pushing down as much as possible - the gearing is to teach you the motion of pulling through the backside of the stroke. I actually feel more stress in my ankles and lower back doing this one. If properly done, this will alleviate the stress on the patellar tendons. Of course, as with any big-gear drills, you need to be careful and stop if it causes pain.
Great drill.Jon Billheimer
Mar 21, 2003 3:17 PM
Thanks for the suggestion.
ok !PeterRider
Mar 21, 2003 5:52 PM
Now, how much do we owe you? nmMel Erickson
Mar 21, 2003 3:50 PM
My coaching rate, my billable rate, or my internet rate ;)lonefrontranger
Mar 21, 2003 7:45 PM
Let's see, my old rate when I was coaching was in the line of $25-30/hour. I typed that at work, where I make considerably less than that, but we'll consider the fact that I was bored silly and amusing myself by farting around wasting time because all my co-workers had scrammed for the day.

Or, you can just consider using my internet rate - 'cos we all know what opinions on this board are worth, right?
If you do a search on LFR posts on this site,STEELYeyed
Mar 21, 2003 8:01 PM
you can put together a pretty complete training program.
Thanks LFR, the checks in the mail.
& a follow-uplonefrontranger
Mar 21, 2003 8:19 PM
PeterRider made a good point, to which I will add some clarification. The first drill where you are overgeared should only be done for a maximum of 3-4 pedalstrokes, period, as it is merely to teach the muscle memory of powering the bike forward as you come out of the saddle, rather than flopping yourself forward and throwing the bike back. Unless you are already doing some type of overgeared or muscle tension work with a lot of base and buildup, you will need to be careful on these. Despite the part where I mentioned that you need to concentrate the effort of this drill in the hams and glutes (on the backside of the pedalstroke), it is still pretty intense on the joints.

That being said, I have bad knees and have done a LOT of overgeared interval work this season with no pain or stress to my chronic trouble spots (tendonitis, ITB syndrome, chondromalacia). I am also religiously stretching and foam rolling my ITB, and my knees are actually bugging me far less this year than they have in the past. The key was that I was properly eased along with adequate base and strength work in the gym before applying it on the bike.

The second drill can be done for as long as the hill lasts or until you start to lose your form and/or balance. When you first start to do this one, the tendency will be to lose form by "chasing" the gear and speeding up your cadence until you "spin out" and lose form and balance. Once you learn proper technique, you will be able to hold the same low speed steady comfortable cadence nearly indefinitely. This is when you'll begin to notice you can then climb out of the saddle for extended periods of time without blowing your heartrate through the roof, because you don't feel that desparate need to fight to chase after the gear - you'll also find you will begin to gear more selectively and appropriately when standing so as to float along on top of the perfect gear in comfortable symbiosis with the bike. Voila! Suddenly instead of a wrestling match, climbing a long, steep hill is more akin to a meditative dance.

You can absolutely believe this stuff works, because by learning and applying these techniques (along with some specific hill interval work of course), this 150-lb sprinter was able to keep up with and even sometimes beat the 115-lb skinny chicks when things got vertical in the races last year. Believe me, there is nothing more satisfying than the look of hopelessness on the faces of those flyweights when they hit the top of the climb, realize your big happy sprinter butt has got 'em covered like a cheap suit, and there's 3 miles of stiff crosswinds to deal with before the finish line!
Chasing the gearKristin
Mar 22, 2003 8:38 AM
I've never heard that term before but I know exactly what you mean. Part of it must be mental. These dinky bumps we have out here in c-land, psych me out somehow and my HR go through the roof in seconds. I feel exactly like I'm chasing the gear. Last summer, when I went to SW Wisconsin and road some longer hills, I didn't blow up at all. (Ran out of steam a couple times, but it was different.) The mental struggle was gone for some reason. To that degree, long climbs seem easier than short ones.
I hereby nominate....4bykn
Mar 22, 2003 6:16 AM
LoneFrontRanger as our official coach here in our little community. Sadly the position is non-paying. The first drill is one I've practiced for several years, since being almost taken down at the Hilly Hundred one year by somebody jumping out of the saddle on a climb. A rider's bike will seem to jump backwards about 12 inches if one does not use the technique, with dire consequences for someone following closely. The second drill sounds interesting and useful. My question: does one need to apply some pressure on the upward pedal stroke? It seems to me that in such a small gear and out of the saddle, the downstroke would be quick and short, and without some balancing force I would be quickly "chasing" the gear.
ah, there's the keylonefrontranger
Mar 22, 2003 8:16 AM
The key is to learn HOW to pedal a full, smooth circle at a controlled cadence without letting your downstroke control the spin. Yes, you do need to apply even pressure on the backstroke and keep your pedalstroke nice and smooth and round. If you've ever either learned or wondered how to stand up on rollers, this is how you do it, by the way.

Without actually riding next to you, helping and demonstrating, it's really hard to describe. What helps is being 'centered' over the bike properly; that hover position where you are really using your quads, core and hamstrings to support you, rather than your arms. You will know when you hit the sweet spot of balance, as suddenly it will become very easy to sit there in a half-crouch and control the gear, tiny as it is. Another visualisation I've used with students who ride offroad is to think about how you would coax a MTB up a steep, muddy or loose climb - this is that same half-crouched hover position using really smooth delicate pedalstrokes to keep both wheels weighted evenly and the rear wheel from spinning out. Good luck, and enjoy. It's kind of like learning a trackstand: sounds and feels impossible until suddenly you just 'get it' one day. This is not as difficult nor will it take as long as learning a trackstand, but some of the same core balance principles do apply. The whole point of this drill is to teach you to support and balance your bodyweight without using the gear as a crutch.
Best technical advice since...Jon Billheimer
Mar 22, 2003 9:14 AM
This is the best technical advice I've heard since Ian Jackson told me about a drill he used to practice. It enabled him, btw, to outclimb guys at the USOC training camp back in '84, and is an extreme version of what you're referring to. What he did is to practice raising his butt only a centimetre off the saddle while staying in the drops, then increasing his pedal cadence. John Howard reports that this is extremely difficult to do, requires enormous core strength, but said that Jackson could ride away from him as if he were doing a full-out sprint without appearing to increase his effort at all. At any rate, you've given me a real tool, I hope, to improve my non-existent climbing skills:)-
LFR, do you do house calls???Len J
Mar 22, 2003 3:08 PM
Seriously, once again you have added a tremendous value to this boad by simply sharing your wealth of experience in a clear, humble manner. Thank You.

Now if you could only spend a week or two with me, I might become an adequate rider.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.