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Get off the Roundabout
Date: 13 Jul, 2009

Cycling is one of those sports where it is very easy to go from event to event and do the same thing, the same time, and the same mistake.  If you do what you have always done, you will get what you’ve always got – the same result.  This is why it is important to look at each event as a unique learning opportunity to find out how you can make the next one better.

 

When we want to take someone to the next level, this is how we go about finding out how to get them there.  We ask: What were your strengths, and what were your weaknesses?

 

Physical-

What went well physically, and what did you feel you could improve upon?  On the flats, in the tail winds, in the head winds, down the hills, up short hills, up long hills, your ability to change pace, riding out of corners?

 

Tactically/strategically-

What went well in this stream, and what did you feel you could improve upon next time?  How was your bunch positioning, your response to changes in pace, your riding in the wind, your eating, your cadence, your response to attacks, your placement in the sprint, your planning throughout the race, your drafting, your position on the start line, your warm up, your warm down?

 

Mentally-

It is impossible to ignore this stream.  Some of us try to, avoiding feeling like a nut case, but the reality is that our brain sends the signal of “go” or “stop” to our muscles so what we are thinking at critical moments will gravely effect our physical performance.  It aint fluff – it’s just smarter to analyse this instead of ignore it.  What were you thinking before the race, during the race, at any critical moments such as just before you dropped off, or made any important decisions strategically or physically?  Find out the monkey chatter, and you will find what you need to improve on in this stream.

 

Example-

 

Example weakness

Solution

Example strength

Physically

I felt like I couldn’t climb very well, particularly on the short explosive climbs

 

I felt strong on the flats

Tactically/strategically

I forgot to eat in the first two hours

 

My cadence was great, and I positioned well in the bunch the entire time

Mentally

When I was at that critical point of dropping off I was thinking I couldn’t do it instead of focusing on my breathing, or my pedalling

 

 

 

 

Once you have identified these the next step is to find the solutions, and if you don’t know the answers seek help to find them, as these are the magic beans that will grow your improvement.  This step is of utmost importance.

 

We can easily be disgruntled with what did not happen.  Cycling is rather blatant like that.  It is obvious when you drop off, or when you are off the back of the bunch up a hill.  It is not something you can blissfully ignore. In this way it is easy to get stuck on the round about of not seeing your successes in cycling which is why it’s also important to acknowledge your strengths, or your successes as well as what you can improve upon.  Over time write these things down and then look back to see how things change – or importantly what hasn’t and therefore needs your attention.

 

Cycling is a journey – an isolated simulation of life to learn more about yourself as an athlete and a person.  That is why each event can be used to take you to the next level.  Do not go blindly through event after event otherwise you will miss the magic.  Learn from each, and stay off the round about.

 

Amy Taylor is an Auckland based Cycling Coach and Exercise Physiologist.  Voted Cycling Coach of the Year she is one of the founders of Kinetic Edge (www.kecycling.com) and author of the Lake Taupo Challenge Guide book.  If you need help with your training contact Amy and her team on 09 368 7819.

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