Coach’s Corner – Lactate Threshold

09/17/2014 2 comments


After you’ve conquered a 45 minute tempo interval it’s time to take on the phase of training that requires you to develop your muscular endurance.  Muscular endurance is gained by working to increase your power at your lactate threshold (AKA functional threshold and anaerobic threshold) as well as the duration of that effort.

These intervals are meant to build that lactate threshold (LT) power.  Once completed, you will have a 45 minute to 1 hour killer effort in your arsenal.  You’ll also use this very important number to re-set all of your power zones because, from the standpoint of information, LT is ground zero for an endurance athlete.

Do these on a stationary trainer or outside on a flat/false flat course.  Grass is fantastic as it provides some good resistance:

LT10: 3×10 minute intervals at lactate threshold with 3 minutes off between them

LT15: 3×15 minute intervals at lactate threshold with 3 minutes off between them

LT20: 2×20 minute intervals at lactate threshold with 8 minutes off between them

LT25: 2×25 minute intervals at lactate threshold with 8 minutes off between them

LT30: 2×30 minute intervals at lactate threshold with 8 minutes off between them

LT45: One 45 minute interval at lactate threshold

As with the AT and tempo intervals, once you know your heart rate and wattage at LT you can keep an eye on your monitor and adjust up or down to suit.  As an example; if your LT is 165 BPM’s/300 watts and you see that on a particular day your heart rate is less than 165BPM’s at 300 watts then increase the wattage.  When that happens you’ve just increased your LT power!  Note these changes and feed them into your program going forward.

Make sure to complete the duration properly before moving to the next.  Slowly and methodically building to your objectives will help prevent burn-out and injury.  It’ll also make you faster!

Thanks for reading, and send an e-mail to with any questions.

Rob Kelley


Categories: Coach's Corner, Updates

Tuesday CCC Updates

- Looks like everyone had a great time at CrossVegas... some people a little too much fun. More on that below.

- Patriot CX results will be posted to USAC here soon.

- Good luck to everyone heading up to Waterloo this weekend for the Trek CXC Cup. Staging is by USAC ranking, so slightly different than CCC races, but it should still be close. We highly encourage everyone who can to attend this event as it is the closest UCI race to the Chicagoland area and the best chance (with the best weather) to see all the top pros. Have fun, take your cowbells and heckle-cannons, and represent the CCC well.

- Less than 2 weeks to go until the first race of the CCC series kicks off at Caldwell Woods hosted by xXx Racing-Athletico. The Cat 4/5 race has already filled but you can get yourself on the waitlist. All other categories still have a few spots open, but don’t wait until the last minute. Please pre-reg. Also, look for new blog posts on race day to post your pictures, videos, and race reports so everyone can see them.

- A few final new series sponsors are joining the CCC. Prairie Path Cycles is the latest, but they are no stranger to the CCC as the sponsoring supporting shop of the Athletes By Design (ABD) team who has hosted the ABD Sunrise Park event for many years.

ppc-logoPrairie Path Cycles – Just off the Illinois Prairie Path in Winfield and the Fox River Trail in Batavia, Prairie Path Cycles is your full-service stop for all your cycling needs.  PPC first opened their doors in 1992 to provide quality bicycles, accessories and expert repairs.  They will make sure that your bike purchase will be one that you will enjoy for many years to come.  Their experienced staff will help you find the bike that is perfect for your style of riding AND your budget.

- And finally… For those of you that missed the photos from CrossVegas there were a few unruly spectators spraying beer on pro racers as they race. Who wastes beer like that… even if it was PBR? People are hungry and starving around the world everyday and you’re wasting beer? Drink that stuff (if you are over 21 of course)! Now, we’re not saying we can’t have a little fun and we know we walk a fine like at CCC races during the Cat 4/5 races, but everyone should respect all riders during all races. See those guys and gals in the Cat 1/2/3 races with the wicked expensive bikes, shiny legs, with nothing by concentration and a look of determination on their face while going supah fast? Yeah, we can pretty much guarantee they aren’t interested in a Twinkie handup or a dollar bill sticking out of the front of your jeans. However, the rider in the Cat 4/5 race dressed in a costume… on a mountain bike… with a huge smile on their face and a bottle of Malort in their back pocket asking if you want a Twizzler wrapped in bacon… yeah, they might be a little more interested in the spectator participation aspect of CX. We’re pretty sure you all can tell the difference and nearly everyone at all CCC races over the past few years has done a great job of respecting that difference. We expect nothing less of the CCC family this season and hope you all will show the rest of the country how to properly spectate a CX race no matter who is on course and why the CCC is the best amateur CX series in the country.

Categories: 1 - Sponsors, News, Updates

Coach’s Corner – Tempo

09/10/2014 2 comments

imagesMRGIS1I2 By now you are most likely in the final throes of your base training phases for the cross season. It is important to have an effort of 60 – 90 minutes (60 if preparing for a 30 minute race, on up to 90 to prep for 60 minute race) at the high end of zone 2 heart rate while wattage and/or pace remain the same throughout, and see this previous post for more info.


A good bridge from this phase into the build phases are tempo (AKA cruise) intervals. They are a zone 3 effort and you will find the most benefit with these in the mid to high end of zone 3.  Start these at 20% higher power than you were pushing during aerobic threshold intervals and keep an eye heart rate.  Adjust power to keep your heart rate within mid to upper zone 3.


Once you’ve done a couple of these rides you’ll know what power is at that rate, and so just peg it there as a matter of course for these intervals going forward.  When heart rate begins to drop at that power level then up the power to get heart rate where it should be and you’ve just gotten stronger!


As always begin with at least 15 minutes of warm up and end with at least 10 minutes of warm down:

T15: 5×15 minute intervals at tempo with 3 minutes off between them T20: 5×20 minute intervals at tempo with 3 minutes off between them T25: 4×25 minute intervals at tempo with 3 minutes off between them T45: 2×45 minute intervals at tempo with 3 minutes off between them

As with your base workouts make sure to complete the duration properly before moving to the next one. Slowly and methodically building to your objectives will help prevent burn-out and injury. It’ll also make you faster!  Start these at 20% higher power than you were pushing during aerobic threshold intervals and adjust from there.  One or two of these sessions per week is plenty, and keep up the speed skill (see previous post here and here) drills and longer endurance rides.

Questions?  E-mail me at

Rob Kelley


Categories: Coach's Corner

Tuesday CCC Updates

- A few more series sponsors have joined in for 2014. Please welcome the following:

Nuun, pronounced “Noon” was the first company to separate electrolyte replacement from carbohydrates. Before Nuun, if you wanted electrolytes, the result was a bottle full of sugar. With our simple, self-dissolving, sugar-free electrolyte tab, we revolutionized the sports drink forever.

 roll: – We started by asking people a very simple question; why they ride not what they ride. Armed with much more revealing insights, we organized our stores around the core ideas of roll:sport, roll:active and roll:family to make it easier for people to find their own path. We developed our exclusive roll:perfect fit body scanning system to make sure that everybody was comfortable and fit correctly on every bike we sell. We created an approach to ride wear that added an element of style for after the ride as well as performance for during the ride. From there we added an absolutely unique collection of the best bikes, the best brands, the best accessories and the best apparel into the mix and roll: came to life.

- Paul Swinand is at it again with CX practices for Juniors at the Northbrook velodrome. Meet at the fields east of velodrome on Fridays at 6pm. Show up early to set up at 5:45pm. The details… Ages 6-16,  all levels (mom’s and dad’s can ride/help too), FREE, but everyone must sign a release, bring a cyclocross or moutain bike, skills and bike handling practice. The first practice is next Friday September 19th and goes until early December. There are lights from the soccer fields from 6pm-7pm after DST ends. The Northbrook bicycle club and Northbrook park district are sponsors along with the Pony Shop Junior dads coaching.

- News from Patriot CX; Ladies get your boy friends, husbands to pre-reg and you get to race for 1/2 price. Pre -reg and the race director will refund you at the race. Great fun course, lots of prizes, less than 1 1/2 hours from I80 at I57 to Rantoul.

- And finally… The CCC hopes everyone heading out to Interbike and CrossVegas this coming weekend has a grand time. Have fun but come back and race with us on Sunday September 28th at Caldwell Park. CrossVegas can be seen live online at

Categories: 1 - Sponsors, News, Updates

Coach’s Corner – Speed Skills and the Pedal Stroke

imagesP78RD0VJ Speed skills, as defined by Joe Friel, are the ability to move quickly and efficiently.  The better you are at turning the pedals over the better your economy of effort is on the bike.  The workouts in this forum last week addressed an important aspect of this concept in high cadence training.  Genetics come into play to a certain extent in this area, but as with any aspect of sport your efficiency is something that will improve with specific training.


A glaring example of this overall concept comes to mind with a road racer that I work with named Nicolai Brochner.  He and I have spent some time comparing our watts per kilo vs. speed while riding side by side and in varying wind conditions.  We’d have these little “contests” to see how little work we could do while maintaining the same speed together.  He always wins!  Nicolai looks almost perfect on the bike.  Everything about his position and movement, pedal stroke included, is geared toward maximum result with the smallest possible amount of effort.


To develop this form, and in addition to the aforementioned high cadence workouts, we also focus on the biomechanics of his pedal stroke.  Technique is the key here, not force or endurance, so the effort is akin to a soccer player working on dribbling skills as opposed to doing wind sprints.  Improving this technique requires ending this specific portion of your workout before fatigue sets in.  Fatigue and sloppiness go hand in hand and this is all about refining the skill.


Spin ups, while not very taxing, require focus.   5 to 10 after you’ve properly warmed up make for a good addition to most speed skill oriented rides.  Perfectly flat or downhill terrain is best suited to allow for an effective workout with these as power should be all but eliminated from the equation:

Increase cadence gradually over a minute to your maximum.  Maximum cadence is the highest that you can maintain without bouncing.  Hold it there until you are no longer able to maintain, and take at least 3 minutes off between these efforts.

Additionally there is a “dead spot” in power at the top of the pedal stroke that can be decreased by proper technique, again fueled by specific drills.  Of those designed to increase the economy of the pedal stroke my favorite are isolated leg training drills (ITL).  While high cadence intervals and spin-ups are generally prescribed during the base phases (now for a cross racer!), ITL drills are a great way to begin any type interval based workout throughout the season.  Think of grinding a circle out rather than pounding the pedals.  We call it “churning butter”.   ITL drills not only develop your ability to do this properly, but also serve as a reminder at the beginning of a ride to focus on this skill throughout:

Unclip one foot and begin pedaling with just one leg for 30 seconds.  Switch back and forth from right foot to left continuously for 3 reps on each leg, for a total of 3 minutes per set.  Recover for 3 minutes and do it again.  3 to 5 sets is generally plenty, and if you are in the middle of a rep and start losing it (a pronounced “clunk” in the top of your pedal stroke) then stop and consider that one rep.  Start slowly and increase as you become more efficient.  You’ll notice that the very top of the pedal stroke is the most difficult portion.  That “clunk” is a gap in power.  As you improve that gap will disappear!   Now put both feet in the pedals and do the same thing, and this is the pay dirt, consistent power throughout.


Questions?  Shoot an e-mail over to


Rob Kelley


Categories: Coach's Corner

Tuesday CCC Updates

- Online pre-reg for all races except Melas CX is open over on BikeReg. Please remember to update your BikeReg ride profile with your USAC license number BEFORE registering for any events.

- Please welcome the newest CCC series sponsorCMITCMIT Solutions of Downtown Chicago is an IT consulting firm organized to support small & midsize businesses. We take care of all hassles associated with information technology. We offer a wide range of services to help effectively capitalize on available resources and maximize productivity. Beyond our local team, we have the reach of the leading national SMB IT outsourcing network with over 125 locations.

- Coach Ted Ramos has a weekly clinic coming up in the city where he works with athletes on improving cyclocross technique. More info and sign up here.

- And finally… For those of you planning on going to the national championships in Austin, TX this year, please note there are a few rule changes regarding registration for the elite categories. “There will also be new qualifications to enter the elite categories at the national cyclocross championships. Invites for the elite divisions will only be offered to any rider ranked in the top 90 in the Pro CX standings following the Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Oregon, on December 6-7; or any rider with UCI points.”


Categories: News, Updates

Coach’s Corner – Cadence

08/27/2014 2 comments

The Concept


Cadence (RPM’s) has an influence on fatigue, power output and economy on the bike.  There are two ways to make your bicycle go faster; push a larger gear and/or complete more revolutions per minute of the pedals. By increasing your cadence you can increase wattage and pace while putting less stress on your muscular system than you would while pushing a larger gear.

The Rationale

To watch a cyclist with effortless and fluid motion is a thing of beauty. They are more likely to maximize efficiency, avoid injury and prevent mechanicals. The load placed on the knee, for example, at 75 RPM’s vs. 100 RPM’s at the same speed is very different. The load placed on your muscular system is also very different – higher at lower RPM’s – and so with proper training you will be able to maintain a high pace/power level at 100 RPM’s for a longer period of time.

Different events require a different cadence.  The metabolic cost of mashing a big gear at 70 RPM’s during a cyclocross race is too high, as is trying to maintain 120 RPM’s.  Maximum efficiency reached during a road sprint is at 120+, while an ultra-endurance event requires a much lower cadence (65 – 85 RPM’s).  Cross is somewhere in the middle and maximum efficiency, similar to a 20 – 40 K TT, falls in the neighborhood of 90 – 100 RPM’s.

This guy needs a high cadence


Jamming out of the myriad of corners faced in cross race is also a huge contributor to the overall fatigue experienced during a race.  Coming out in a big gear is akin to a dead lift; corner after corner.  A nice high, smooth motion will reduce that effect tremendously.   My favorite guy to watch to this end in the CCC series is Brian Conant.  We train together occasionally and he is almost always in a lower gear than everyone else and you can see for yourself on race day how quickly and smoothly he jets out of every corner.



The Work


The idea is not to become comfortable at 130 RPM’s. It is to be comfortable at 95 or 100 RPM’s….but truly comfortable and fluid. The athletes that I coach usually find these to be the most difficult rides during the offseason. By end the base period though they find increased wattage without increased load derived from their newly developed neuromuscular system and pedal stroke. This is just one example of many options and these are so hard to complete that a custom approach to each cyclist is not a bad idea.  Don’t worry about power, use as easy a gear ratio as necessary to maintain cadence:

100 RPMs for 5 minutes 1 minute off 105 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 110 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 115 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 115 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 120 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 125 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 130 RPM’s for 5 minutes 1 minute off 135 RPM’s for 5 minutes

These are “to fail”, meaning hang in there as long as you can and when you can’t keep the pace any longer the set is over, re-group and recover for the next.  If you make it to 2 minutes into the 125 set then the goal for the next is to hang in to 130.   As with all rides warm up for at least 15 minutes and down for at least 10. The above is one set and try to build to three over the course of your base period. Each set should be followed by 6 minutes of recovery. It is meant to be done on a trainer or rollers as I cannot imagine doing this on the road!


Since riding a trainer pretty well blows this time of year you may rather go for an outdoor-friendly version.  As you become more comfortable with these you can add additional sets at increased cadence:


90 RPMs for 5 minutes

1 minute recovery

95 RPM’s for 5 minutes

1 minute recovery

100 RPM’s for 4 minutes

1 minute recovery

105 RPM’s for 4 minutes

1 minute recovery

110 RPM’s for 3 minutes

1 minute recovery

115 RPM’s for 3 minutes

1 minute recovery

120 RPM’s for 2 minutes


Questions?  E-mail me at


Rob Kelley


Categories: Coach's Corner

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