The CA Success Path
Make sure you follow this program in order, step by step. Don’t skip around and try to advance too quickly unless otherwise noted. It was designed to get you there as quickly as possible, but that requires specific structure and order. Now let’s get at it!
The Completion Level of Your Training.
Stage 1 – Optimize Efficiency – START HERE!
Efficiency Overview – The Mental Checklist
Efficiency is the most ignored aspect of cycling outside of strength work. We teach a mental efficiency checklist to all of our athletes for them to run through as they ride, and exploit when things get tough. In this stage you will learn all of the parts of the mental checklist, as well as how to improve them. The mental checklist is as follows:
- Pedal Stroke
- Body Position
You can’t live without it. So let’s work to master our breathing technique.
The number one thing we see from newer riders is a low cadence. Not just sometimes, but ALL THE TIME. The problem with a low cadence is it’s very tough muscularly and can cause fatigue to set in much quicker. It also makes going uphill a nightmare.
We like to see our riders moving average cadence between 85-95 rpms. This is a wide range but we tend to see new riders down in the 60s and 70s. Your goal is to increase your average cadence by 3-5 rpms per week until you are comfortable spinning within the 85-95 rpm range.
How do you do this? We will work on some of this during our pedal stroke training, but until you get to that section follow these guidelines:
- Start every ride with a warm up that includes at least 3x 30-60 second fast spins. A fast spin is simply spinning an easy gear as fast as you can WITHOUT being out of control and bouncing on the saddle.
- Add in several 5-10 minute high cadence intervals into your next several training rides. Focus on riding a cadence 5-10 rpms higher than you are use to, even into the 100-110 rpm range. You can recover fully between these intervals.
- Complete the pedal stroke technique training
This one is pretty self explanatory. Just remind yourself to relax and do a body check to make sure your toes are not curling in your shoes and your hands are not putting the kung fu grip on the bars. Start at all the touch points on the bike and work your way in, trying to relax anything that is not contributing to pedaling.
Start at the pedals. Are your toes curling in your shoe? RELAX!
Move to the bars. Do you have a tight grip on the bars? Wiggle your fingers. RELAX!
Make sure there is a slight bend in your arms. RELAX!
Let your chest fall toward the handlebars so your shoulders retract slightly. RELAX!
That’s better! Now try it outside.
Working on an efficient pedal stroke is one of the best uses of your training time. The less we can waste energy and the more of the circle we can use to generate power the better. So let’s get to it!
Body position goes hand in hand with relaxing on the bike. It also can be affected by your fit. Or your saddle choice. Or even your general strength, flexibility, and fitness. All of these things help maintain proper body position, but they don’t guarantee a body position that is efficient. With that, here are some nuggets to keep in mind when it comes to doing a self check of your body position:
- If on a road bike, you always want a slight bend in the arms. This helps take some of the shock from the road before it reaches your neck and upper back.
- The lower your chest drops, be it changing hand positions, bending your arms more, or going into the aerobars, the more you need to rotate your pelvis forward (off your sit bones). This opens your hips back up, takes tension off the low back and hamstrings, and allows the posterior muscles to work more efficiently. To do this, think about GENTLY reaching your chest forward and elongating your spine. Don’t force it or you will look like you are riding with a stick up your butt. The trade off here is obviously more pressure in the nether region. If it’s unbearable, you may consider tilting your saddle nose down 1mm, or looking into a new saddle all together. If you rarely get low on your bike, this may not be an issue. However, even if you are trying to get out of the wind and you simply bend your arms to get lower, you need to allow your pelvis to roll forward.
- No turtle shells! If your back looks like a turtle shell, and you can’t flatten it out by cueing your chest forward (pending you don’t have some sort of spinal issue…ask about Coach Dale’s most embarrassing fit moments and he’ll elaborate), it may be a good idea for you to jump to Stage 5 and see if you can get a better fit on your bike before we keep pressing forward. If you are close to the Memphis area, we can always do a professional fit on you so you know it’s done right!
Stage 2 – Maximize Cycling Skills
There are a lot of skills within the sport of cycling that when learned and practcied, can really level up one’s performance, as well as the performance of a group. Your ride buddies will appreciate that! So let’s master some skills!
Basic Bike Handling
A lot of people want to be super fit before they can properly handle their machine. Not us! We want you to be the safest riders in the group so, without further adieux…
NEW – Climbing Skills
One of the main questions we get as coaches is “how do I get better on the hills?”
Well, there are a number of ways to improve performance when the gradient hits a positive, and gravity starts rearing it’s ugly head.
This module will take you through the ins and outs of becoming a better, faster, and much more efficient climber.
Be patient, and really spend some time here working on the specific techniques we cover. If you have questions, you know where to find us! With that, proceed to…
Stage 3 – Begin Structured Training for Improved Fitness
We saved training for after you have worked on efficiency and technique because we wanted you to see the benefits of both stages before we brought structure to your training. That’s free speed! Now we can start to improve your overall fitness. Let the games begin!
Test Your Mite and Set Your Zones
You can’t measure progress if we don’t have a starting point. Having zones also makes some of the training more targeted so we can improve specific aspects to your fitness. So, here we go!
Stage 4 – Optimize Ride Fueling
If you plan to ride more than an hour, and you neglect nutrition (calories) and hydration (fluids/electrolytes), you will pay dearly for it. In stage 4 we are going to walk you through knowing how much fluid you need to try to take in, what electrolytes are needed, and how many calories you will likely need during longer rides.
Keep in mind that nutrition and hydration is a highly individualized topic, so you will need to do some experimenting once you have the basics down. But that’s part of the fun! And no, beer is not a good electrolyte replacer. We’ve tried it…
Fluids and Your Sweat Rate
Knowing your sweat rate is the easiest thing you can do to estimate your fluid needs. So let’s do it!
Figure Out Your Sweat Sodium Concentration
This can be a game changer for some. Along with how much fluid we are losing, we also want to know what is in that fluid so we know what we need to put back in.
Sodium is the predominant electrolyte lost in sweat. It’s responsible for a host of bodily functions, a major one being initiating muscle contractions. Sodium concentration in sweat is largely genetically determined, and it doesn’t vary much at all, unlike our sweat rate.
We’ve done a host of sweat sodium testing, and two seemingly similar individuals can vary as much as 10x in their sodium needs. Yes, some expel 200mg per liter of sweat, and others expel 2000mg per liter of sweat. This is why some people are more predisposed to cramping or issues in the heat.
The great thing is, once you know your SSC (Sweat Sodium Concentration), it won’t change on you. Then you know EXACTLY what you need to have in your bottles to stay properly hydrated.
So how do you get this info?
The CA coaches can do an advanced sweat test on you. It takes 30-45 minutes, doesn’t involve exercise, and gets instant results. They also have the custom multi-strength sports drinks to back up whatever number you spit out via their partnership with the great folks at Precision Hydration. The lab grade test costs $149 and can be booked at bpc.setmore.com
If you are not in our immediate area, or the “easy button” route is not in your budget, the other option is to take the free online test with our PH pals VIA THIS LINK.
Fueling for Longer Rides – The Basics
Keep in mind, you likely don’t need calories for a ride under an hour. But it’s always good to have a plan so you don’t hit the dreaded bonk or take a trip to crampsville! So let’s figure this out!
Dial in YOUR Nutrition Plan
Finding out what work for you takes time, but we have to start somewhere. So here is a guide to finding the optimal fueling, hydration, and electrolyte replacement for YOU!
Stage 5 – Optimize Gear Set Up
Gear Set Up Overview
If your gear isn’t properly set up and maintained, it can cause a lot of issues, both performance wise and monetarily. So we’re going to help you set up your bike and keep it running like a dream. Bike set up and maintenance is an ongoing thing, so once we get your bike fit in a good spot, you can move on to stage 2 and keep the improvements coming.
Bike Fit Guide
Your bike fit is as important as any other aspect of cycling performance. Having your bike dialed in means you are as efficient and comfortable as possible. No person should have to ride a poorly fit bike. It makes us hurt just thinking about it. So let’s get that thing adjusted!
If you want to go the easy route, and have one of our awesome coaches personally take you through the process, we offer online and in person bike fitting services. All of our fits come with satisfaction guaranteed so you can get a full refund if you are not happy with the results. To get the process started, purchase the upgrade below or follow the link to book locally, and one of our coaches will be in touch ASAP to guide you through the process.
If you are totally not mechanically inclined, and either have no tools, or have no idea how to adjust your own bike, give us a shout and we will help you find a qualified local bike fit specialist.
If you have been professionally fit and have no issues on your bike, and have no issues, you should be good here.
Set Up Your Computer For Optimal Data Viewing – NEW
Let’s make sure your Garmin or whatever computer you use is set up so that you can see the necessary data to knock out a focused training session. This is a quick one so don’t blink! Proceed to…
Weekly Bike Maintenance – Coming Soon
We need that bike of yours to run smooth and last a long time, so check these basic maintenance practices and get your rig running like a top!