Fit to be Tried | Prepare for XTERRA Nevada triathlon with cycling workouts
Fit to be Tried
Editorand#8217;s note: Fit to be Tried is a weekly column focused on training for Tahoe-area endurance events. The first series will focus on training for Big Blue Adventureand#8217;s XTERRA Nevada and#8212; a world-class event in our back yard.
With an eye toward XTERRA Nevada, make leaps and bounds in your mountain bike performance by maximizing your training time with specific road cycling workouts. With a structured, progressively planned training program, you will experience success.
Road cycling is key to improve your mountain biking performance. It allows us to focus on honing a smooth pedal stroke, while training the specific physiological system without experiencing bodily wear and tear that comes with dirt riding.
The first step to build cycling fitness is time in the saddle training cycling-specific muscular endurance and an efficient pedal stroke. Since we are upright, two-legged creatures designed to walk and run, circular motion does not come naturally and takes concerted practice. Optimizing our pedal stroke is central to improvement and cycling-specific fitness. In order to find an effective pedal stoke, we must have a properly fitted bike.
Measuring an individualand#8217;s leg length is the first of many steps to achieve efficient hip and knee angles. It is important to consider the riderand#8217;s body type and#8212; long femur/short torso, or long torso/short femur and#8212; to determine the frame size, long top tube, seat tube angle, etc.
In determining bike position, it is also vital to consider the riderand#8217;s cycling fitness, goals and individual riding style. The riderand#8217;s time invested on the bike will determine specific cycling strength. As riders spend more time on their bikes, their muscles become supple, allowing for a higher saddle. Muscles are most powerful when closer to full extension.
What are the riderand#8217;s goals and#8212; to become a powerful sprinter, racing short criteriums or a century rider focused on improving muscular strength and endurance? Sprinters will want to be positioned directly over the bottom bracket, allowing them to maximize use of their quads and fast-twitch muscles at a quick-firing cadence. Endurance riders will want the saddle positioned behind the bottom bracket, allowing them to use all the muscle groups and#8212; quads, hamstrings and glutes.
These factors are then balanced with the riderand#8217;s style and#8212; high cadence vs. low cadence, where high-rpm riders want to be farther forward and low-rpm riders back.
Now with a properly fitting bike it is vital to focus training time on the pedal stroke. With a properly fitting bike and efficient pedal stroke, you will have the basic tools to maximize your training investment.
In order to train an efficient pedaling stroke, visualize a clock. Start your push forward from the 10 oand#8217;clock position to 3 oand#8217;clock. At 3 oand#8217;clock initiate the scrape-back action, engaging the hamstrings, and scrape back at the bottom on the pedal stroke. Continue scraping back, transitioning up to 7 oand#8217;clock and#8212; at which point an active unloading of the pedal takes place. It has been shown through biomechanical tests that elite cyclists unload the pedal vs. actively pulling up and#8212; effectively assisting the forward motion of the other pedal.
Ankling and#8212; allowing the heel to raise and drop and#8212; is key and very individual, so play with what makes you feel strong and fast. I have found that keeping my ankle neutral over the top and letting the heel naturally drop when pushing over the top and down, then raise during the unloading phase, has served me well. Pedal stroke is trainable and successfully reinforced via specific drills and training.
Stay tuned for next weekand#8217;s column, which outlines a range of structured workouts to train the specific physiological systems. If all this jargon seems like gibberish, feel free to contact Julie at email@example.com.
and#8212; Julie Young is a Truckee resident and owner of o2fitness. She is a former U.S. National Team member and pro cyclist who currently competes in triathlons and trail runs. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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