Strength Training To Maximize Your Winter Training  

Winter Training 2017 (Part 3 Of 4) – Aaron Buggle

People have questioned the use of strength training to improve cycling performance for decades.

So does strength training in the gym improve performance on the bike and should I use the gym this winter?

It’s a question that in my opinion has never clearly been clearly or correctly answered, and the information reaching the general public is extremely muddled at the best of times.

As a Sports Scientist and Coach, I will emphatically tell you that my advice, which is backed by evidence, is to strength train. It will improve your cycling performance when combined with winter training.

The style of training I am advocating is known as ‘concurrent training.

Simply put, if you don’t have a strength-training component in your winter programme, you are not optimising your full potential as a rider.

My recommendation is to add two strength workouts per week, and it will, without question, increase your performance potential out on the road.

It is finally time for cyclists of all levels to embrace strength training, without the resounding question of “Is this actually helping me?” ringing in their ears.

“I tried it before and it didn’t work!”

The latest research is not the same old “high repetition, low weight” onslaught that has been recommended for years.

Bike riders who search for continuous improvement all too often follow the predominant training style that they see displayed around them by their peers.

Sports science is taking huge leaps forward, and I will stand by my belief that the scientific evidence is there for you to see, and it’s compelling. Don’t feel pressured to follow outdated precedents.

Riders also like to say: “I don’t have time to strength train in the gym – I’ll just do it on the bike.” In fact, it is far more time efficient to train strength in the gym.

The increase in force in the gym brings the adaptations around much faster, so essentially, training the strength component of your programme in the gym will save you time in the long run. For the amateur cyclist with limited training hours, this time effective training is ideal, especially during the winter months, when daylight is limited, and every minute of training time needs to be optimised.

How can heavy weights improve my endurance?

Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

Performance in most cycling events is determined by the maximal sustained power output for a given distance, and the energy cost of maintaining that output – known as cycling economy.

Studies show a marked increase in cycling economy through various different physiological mechanisms. This is particularly true for athletes 35 and older, who have been shown to exhibit the largest gains from strength training.

Now for the science bit…

Muscle fibre types

We all possess type I, type IIA, IIB and IIX muscle fibres, all of which exhibit very distinct functions.

Being endurance athletes, we rely heavily on our highly fatigue-resistant slow twitch muscle fibres, which are also known as oxidative fibres.

Research shows that adding the strength component to your endurance training (concurrent training) will make these fibres stronger and more resistant to fatigue.

This means that you can save your highly effective fast twitch fibres for later in your event when you really need them.

The same research also found an increase in type IIA fast-twitch muscle fibres relative to more easily exhausted type IIX muscle fibres.

This is a crucial adaptation; as type IIA are more fatigue-resistant than type-IIX, yet they are still very capable of producing large amounts of force and subsequent power – yielding double bang for your buck!

What about my sprinting?

As a result of maximal strength training, you will be able to utilise your existing muscle more efficiently and effectively.

With strength training, not only can you recruit more muscle fibres, you can also send that neurological signal for them to contract faster, which is good news for your sprinting.

Recall the muscle fibre types; when you sprint, there is an order in which these fibres contract, from slow twitch to fast twitch.

Another result of our program at A1 Coaching, will be faster recruitment of type II fibres when you sprint.

This means that the rate at which you produce force is faster, and to relate this back to the bike, you may only reach the same maximal power in a sprint but you will do so in less time – essentially giving you more snap!

A taste of the programme I’d advocate – 

Components you should include – 

  • Dynamic stretching and corrective movements.
  • Main workout – large muscle recruitment. This comprises two different days – A more anterior focus on day one moving to a more posterior focus on day two.
  • Core finishing sequence.

What are dynamic movement and corrective movements?

Dynamic stretches are active movements of muscle through a full range of motion that elicit a stretch but are not held in the final position.

When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends electrical signals from the brain to the muscle fibres and connective tissues in that location to prepare for the work ahead.

Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power through activation prior to training or competition.

In contrast, stretching statically for 20- 30 seconds like the old days prior to intense exercise can actually decrease your performance.

Example exercise: Band Pull Aparts

A big issue we face as cyclists, particularly as we age, is poor trunk posture.

We spend such a large volume of time hunched over on the bike that our shoulders begin to rotate anteriorly, and this is heightened again if you work at a desk.

The key with Band Pull Aparts, is to focus on full scapula retraction, so really squeezing your shoulder blades together. This is a great postural exercise, that can also help alleviate pain and pressure that you may experience in that area when on or off the bike.

The main workout

This segment of our programme focuses on how to generate huge force from a large number of muscles at once, rather than one group in isolation.

Example exercise: Heels Elevated Squat

The squat mimics the technique of a pedal stoke extremely well: huge force is produced in the glute and quad muscles concentrically as you drive the bar up with maximal effort.

Heels are elevated for three reasons – to enhance Vastus Medialis stimulation (the teardrop muscle located medially in the thigh that extends the knee) to help proper knee gliding, and it is also a great place to start if you haven’t yet acquired the functional mobility to squat parallel, while avoiding poor technique.

The third benefit is one for the “Theory of Specificity” advocate.! Having your heels elevated forces you to drive through the balls of your feet rather than your heels which closer replicates the technique of a pedal stroke.

The key with this exercise is to optimise the concentric phase of the movement; meaning you explosively push up as hard as you can from the bottom of the squat, giving it everything you’ve got.

Core finishing sequence

Core is often a misunderstood concept, and many of us don’t really understand it to its full meaning and potential.

Firstly, all “big moves” like squats and deadlifts, give your core a great workout.

However, having said that, these “big moves” will still not fully isolate your core on its own to the stage of exhaustion. We need to remember that the core will struggle greatly when and if we are very fatigued on the bike.

It subsequently makes sense then to finish off your strength training sessions with a core specific sequence of exercises while your core muscles are fatigued.

Example exercise: Knee Tucks

I very much favour the exercise ball for core exercises; and this exercise is very cycling-specific. It not only emphasises the core, but also encompasses a hip stability and upper body component.

What you can take home from this article

Strength training works for cyclists. However, like everything exercise related, it needs to be done correctly, and your programme needs to be adapted for your strengths and weaknesses.

All of the movements must be designed to increase your performance on the bike, so here are my “take home” points.

  • Treat your gym sessions with respect – arrive motivated and hit the session hard.
  • Cycling is a concentric movement, (that explosive standing up phase of a squat) so this needs to be a maximal effort.
  • No lifts should result in a failure – heavy yes, but all lifts should be done with control and most importantly, with good technique.
  • Wear a watch to take time between the main exercises; take 3 minutes’ recovery to optimise the benefits of subsequent sets.

Unlock the power you didn’t know you had. It is time for cyclists to embrace weight training as part of their winter training schedules.

See you at the squat rack!

A.Buggle

 

optimal-gains-winter-cycling

Making optimal gains with training this winter

Winter Training 2017 (Part 2 Of 4) – Aaron Buggle

It’s that time of the year when our minds need to turn to winter training.

It’s often said that “winners are made in the winter”’, so if you are seeking big improvements in your riding for next season, this article is for you.  We will discuss the advantages of increased training intensity for the time-crunched rider, and also the pitfalls of the traditional low intensity approach to winter training.

Cycling success does not require huge lifestyle sacrifices and changes

It is important for all of us to grasp that amateur cycling shouldn’t be about lifestyle redesign. We cycle for fun but enjoy the challenge of competition, fast sportives, or gran fondos. Through our dealings with our clients, we’re constantly taking into account our clients’ need to balance their training with family/work/educational commitments; this balance is achievable with proper planning and good coaching.

When this system is highly refined it’s possible to be a top domestic rider while working full time and having a family – if you follow the system, and take a structured approach to your winter training. Intensity is key to effective training.

Intensity vs. duration

In order for us to make a physiological adaptation – to get fitter – we need training stress. Training stress comes from the combination of duration and intensity of exercise. Some of us can ride 20 or more hours per week. However, for the vast majority of us, our weekly duration is much more limited – or should be for the sake of a more balanced lifestyle, and allowing us to maintain a good relationship with our families and employers.

Unfortunately, for many years duration has been touted as the key prescription for increased fitness levels. This tradition still persists in many circles and, on many Sunday spins during the winter, anyone who shows ambition to train at an intensity above zone 1 in the winter training period will be labeled and ridiculed as a ‘winter racer’, ‘December champion’, or similar.

It’s been ingrained into the cycling psyche that intensity and intervals are taboo in the winter. The prevailing wisdom is that if we introduce even a small amount of intensity into our winter training we will be mentally and physically fried by the middle of the upcoming season. An atmosphere of fear is introduced to shelter those who want to train in zone 1 all through the cold, wet, weather.

Many of the guys, who advocate the old school, low intensity approach, are the same guys you find in the car park after a cold, wet, 100km early season race/event trying to find a reason why they were dropped within the first lap. They believe that they performed their winter training the “right” way, but they are not seeing the results that were promised by the advocates of this low intensity approach. They have ridden much longer distances than this in training, why can they not complete it in a race? The answer is simple, their training lacked intensity, and their training volume was not sufficient to cause the adaptations promised by the traditional low intensity approach..

Science has debunked some traditional wisdoms

Some of the traditional wisdoms are based on assumptions that have now been debunked by science. Many of these “wisdoms” are also not relevant or applicable to the average time crunched rider with a job, family, or educational commitments

For example, tradition dictates that one must ride slowly for prolonged periods (‘long slow distance’) to develop mitochondria – the powerhouse of cells where energy is produced. The current research demonstrates that mitochondria production can be increased threefold by including more intensity in our training program. These adaptations can all be achieved without altering training volume, perfect for the time-constrained riders.

Therefore, when training time is limited – for example 8 hours per week– intensity is the variable we must focus on in order to manipulate weekly-accumulated training stress. This increased stress will lead to consistent improvement over time.

In other words, the added intensity compensates for the shortcoming in duration and trains differing aspects of our physiological systems. The improvements in your higher end power caused by this increase in intensity are also hugely specific to racing, while also improving your overall fitness.

In closing, with recent advances in training methodology, combined with a structured periodised approach to winter training, amateur cyclists can make huge improvements in their fitness, without having to completely redesign their lifestyle or sacrificing valuable time with their family.

Sportives Are The Business

 

It is well and truly sportive season. All the classics have been and gone or are in the near future; Wicklow 200, Leinster loop, An Post Cycle Series etc.

Mention the word sportive to a racing cyclist and they will probably laugh at the thought of taking part in one.

All you have to do is to take a look at the A1 coaching lads vlog of them taking on the Wicklow 200 a few weeks ago.

Sportives aren’t for the faint hearted. The routes can be extremely challenging even at your own self-selected pace (just look at the state of Anthony and Aaron after the 200k’s around Wicklow).

The one thing that caught my eye was the craic. Unlike racing, there was stress, fear of crashing, disappointment of losing, getting dropped (well maybe in Buggles case) or frustration of braking equipment.

A sportive seems to be a great opportunity to ride around with your mates, along a spectacular route… with loads of sandwiches! What’s not to love!?!

You can use your best kit and fancy wheels without the fear of them ending up in pieces. You don’t have to worry about how much training other people have been doing. Once you have the correct training done for you to get around the event at your desired pace, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself.

To me it sounds like a no brainer.

Yes, racing has its place. The hit of adrenaline you get during a bike race or the indescribable joy you feel when you win a race cannot be replaced by a sportive.

However, they are two very different animals.

I remember laughing at Damien Shaw when he told me he was doing the Wicklow 200 as part of training for the nationals in 2015. He won the nationals a few weeks later… guess who got the last laugh there!

We still talk about it to this day. It was as hard it if not harder than any training session or race he would have done that weekend. He also did it with a good group of lads, had the craic and it put him in a great frame of mind going into the national championships.

I’m not saying we should all send back our racing licences and take up sportives. They are a part of cycling maybe we should all look into.

Sportives offer yet another way to enjoy riding your bike and sure that is the aim of the game!

See you at a sportive soon!

Cycling For Fun

 

We all ride our bikes for different reason; health benefits, the social aspect, enjoyment, competitive etc.

Often we start for one reason and once the ball starts rolling we explore the different aspects of the sport.

Some people might start as they enjoy the freedom of the sport which may develop into joining a club to socialise with people of a similar mind set. Others might start in an effort to improve their health and end up getting involved in the racing.

Personally I’ve been through the ranks in cycling. I started riding my bike as a teenager for the excitement that came with exploring places that I had never been before; no structured training, Garmins, racing etc. I did everything in-between and now I ride my bike competitively full time; intervals, power meters, race programs, pinning numbers etc.

Which part of cycling do I enjoy the most? To be honest, it’s hard to choose!

Going out and riding your bike, unplanned and without structure or stress has its obvious perks. However, the hustle and bustle of racing and the tired legs after a hard training session in preparation for a race can be oddly satisfying too.

I’ve often laid awake at night thinking of what aspect of cycling I will favour when I’m finished with competitive full time cycling.

Some riders decide to stay with competitive cycling and race domestic events, while others give up competitive cycling all together and ride when they feel like it.

Personally I think I’ll settle somewhere in the middle. I love riding my bike so I will never completely pack it but I also don’t want the stress of racing.

The middle ground is often overlooked by cyclists in my eyes. There seems to be a focus on competing to the best of your ability or just no riding at all.

The middle ground is something I did for years before I started racing seriously and in my eyes it was probably the time that I most enjoyed riding my bike.

What is this middle ground?

It’s a combination of riding your bike for the pure enjoyment with a touch of competition.

Look no further than your local club league to find that; a group of local riders, riding around local roads, one evening every week during the summer months. Throw in one other mid-week ride, a coffee ride and/or club spin on the weekend and you’re looking at a very enjoyable week on the bike.

It’s relaxed and fun. Results don’t matter, it’s only a few hours every week and doesn’t require a huge amount of training to be competitive.

To be honest I think it’s a part of cycling that every rider should experience. You learn loads due to the mix of abilities in the races, you are often required to marshal once or twice during the year (a great opportunity to see how hard it is to run a race and respect how much organisation goes into it) but most importantly the relaxed atmosphere means its great craic.

The different groups are given handicaps meaning if you’re not on great form you can downgrade to prevent getting your ass kicked and going home sulky.

At the moment I’m giving competitive cycling a lash and enjoying every minute of it. Some of you might be trying to reach some of your goals too.

However, in years to come I don’t fancy training super hard to feature in open races but I do want to race and have fun. I think that middle ground offered by the club league is unbeatable and is something that should be taken advantage of by more amateur cyclists.

Trust me, its great craic!

Do what makes you enjoy riding your bike!

How to Plan Your Winter Training & When To Begin

How to Plan Your Winter Training & When To Begin

 

Winter Training 2017 (Part 1 Of 4) – Aaron Buggle

A successful start to your winter training starts before you finish your current season. Experience from over 10 long and arduous winters has taught me the importance of forward planning, setting goals and organizing my winter before it even begins.

Not doing this and beginning your winter without a plan, is the start of what’s been dubbed as ‘ the headless chicken phenomenon’.

In other words riding around aimlessly and leaving a whole heap of adaptations on the table in the process. There is a process of planning and organization that makes your winter far more beneficial in terms of cost benefit.

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You see when you make solid plans you’ve given a rider something to aim for; something to challenge his skills against; something to measure his progress with, and something that gives purpose to his investment of effort, time and money.

All this by making a simple plan.

Before You End Your Season

You need to have your winter break scheduled; yes you need those dates nailed down in my opinion.

Too bad if you’re reading this too late!

I always take two weeks (personal preference) in October that is followed by some cross training for another 2 weeks and normal practice resumes on November 1st.

A mistake a lot riders make is that they start organizing everything after their couple of weeks rest and then it turns into a month or more of faffing about trying to get started when in fact, you’re ready to get going.

Make It A Proper Rest!

Your time off the bike should be physical and psychological down time –at least it shouldn’t have any cycling related stressors. This period off the bike will differ greatly depending on the rider and the season they’ve endured.

But the thing is there’s quite a bit to consider when you kick off your winter training.

Pretty quickly this stuff can get on top of you and it’s easy to get a bit stressed out, that’s why I suggest starting before you take your winter break.

endurance ride mistakes

I’ve my winter bike booked into the shop for its service, I’ll book a performance test for the first month back riding so I have my baseline. There’s also nutrition and strength and conditioning to consider – perhaps they’re the stone unturned for you and you want to try implementing them this year.

Well, the start of the winter is the time to do it.

That’s all before you even start making new goals for next year and most importantly before you start periodising and planning the training you’ll need to do to take you there.

If you get as much of this stuff organized as you can before your break, believe me, you’ll be more relaxed, and as a result  your transition back into training will be all the more smoother.

It also means your time off the bike is a proper physical and psychological rest – the whole idea of the winter break in the first place.

Making a Plan & Setting Targets

What is it that your winter training is aiming to improve?

What events are you aiming for?

What is your bull’s-eye?

When should you peak?

What is the best sequence of training to get you in the best shape of your life for that key event?

spin-or-push-a-gear

The answers to these questions are crucial to answer before you even clip in and start your winter training.

Most riders don’t reap the rewards of a good winter because they don’t know what it is they are trying to improve – this needs to be clearly set out every time you go out on a winter ride.

The dividing up of these periods is referred to as ‘periodisation’.

Starting Point

I’d start this whole process by accessing the season that’s just passed when it’s fresh in your mind.

What worked?

What didn’t?

Did your training methods have the desired effect?

What factors limited your performance in events?

Be specific, was it that you just couldn’t finish well, was it your endurance or perhaps it was those short steep hills?

Get it all down on paper and for god sake if you didn’t improve following last winters efforts don’t do the same thing again – that’s insane.

The next step is to identify your goals for next season.

I’ve made balls of this for many years – picking goals that seemed like the right ones to choose on paper…

It’s super important to pick events that really ignite something within.

That said picking out events from the calendar is only the crust of goal setting.

This is where the real coaching begins. The fitness variables that need to be trained to elicit the adaptations required to take you to your goal need to be systematically planned into your programme – not trained by chance!

This is what’s known within coaching circles as ‘periodization’.

Periodisation

In coaching we sometimes refer to the annual cycle of the year as the ‘macro training cycle’, and the different phases of training within the periodisation plan as ‘meso training cycles’.

These will normally be a preparation phase, a base phase, a build phase, a specific phase, a race phase and a taper phase.

Within each of these phases we adjust the zonal training load to stimulate the different physiological systems in the best combination and sequence.

The structure of the plan will depend on the physiological demands of your particular event and the timing.

For example, the annual periodisation plan would differ greatly between a rider aiming for a January cyclocross championship, a time-triallist aiming for a June 10-mile TT championship, and a sportive rider working towards a top performance at the Etape du Tour in July.

However, the principles will be the same for each and planning should work backwards from your particular goals.

It is not possible for us to maintain optimum shape all year round, so we must aim to hit peak performance levels at pre-determined times.

If you are aiming for performance it is vital to understand that you can’t stay in top shape for very long periods – you have to ‘peak’ to reach your optimum fitness.

However, that peak can only be short lived, and you can only achieve it two or three times per year. The reason for this is that your body just wouldn’t stand up to the training stress which the peaking involves.

It is not an accident that Chris Froome arrives at the Tour de France in the very best shape.

With this in mind you should ideally target two or three ‘A-priority’ goals during the course of the competitive season, separated perhaps by four to six weeks. You can also include ‘B-priority’ events which are important for the athlete but which can serve as strategic importance in your build-up to key events.

Anyway I hope this has put a light under your arse in reference to planning your winter.

It should be the first step in anything you are willing to give so much of your time to!

Otherwise it’s like an archer with no target…  you need to put the right plan and target in place if he’s going to hit the bull’s-eye!

Aaron Buggle

The A4 crash fest issue

The last few days the crashing issues in A4 racing have been a hot topic around the office.

We have received calls, emails and other messages across all social media platforms to call out for change in A4 racing so we don’t loose the newcomers entering our sport.

Asides from anything they are the biggest demographic in a Sunday race so it makes sense that resources are used to sort out the apparent issue.

From all reports the racing simply doesn’t appear safe.

Following the race on Sunday I was told about ‘mad risks’ been taken and rules being broken – both written and unwritten.

Riding with Anthony at the Wicklow 200 and having ridden with a lot of newcomers to the sport over the last year we spoke about the biggest divide between most A4 and A1 riders.

It’s not physical ability its skills craft and simply how to manoeuvre a bike.

We see some really crazy shit out there on training rides from guys that race every weekend.

It’s not their fault – there needs to be a better system in place where competency levels are met.

As it stands if you have an unbelievable level of physical ability you can start cycling at A4 level and ride the Rás within a year regardless of how bad your bike handling skills are.

I don’t care if you’re Peter Sagan’s love child you can’t have developed that ability over a year working through A4 – A2.

The crashing in A4 races have simply gotten out of hand and here are some possible solutions to make the racing a safer place:

1. Mandatory period of club racing prior to commencing open racing.

2. Restricted numbers in A4 Races – currently the biggest bunch by a long way pushing the likelihood of something going wrong up a notch or ten.

3. A1 Riders required to “coach” as an active participant in one A4 race per season (riders need to learn from someone with experience)

4. Harder courses.

5. Approved courses for A4’s (wide, safe roads) (It is a learning category after all)

6. Commitment to having a minimum number of marshals and adequate race support.
(Should be submitted as part of safety assessment prior to event getting approval)

7. Longer Races

8. Must pass a bike-handling course prior to being granted an A4 license.

They are all simple enough solutions but will take planning resources and effort to tackle.

Let us know your thoughts –

I think we’re all in accordance that something needs to change to make turning up on a Sunday less of a risk for guys getting up for work the following morning.

Aaron Buggle

One for the aspiring Pro

 

One for younger riders: Are you sellable to sponsors ?

For young aspiring riders looking to go pro in the coming years it’s clear the game has changed.

In the era of the 80’s 90’s the legs done the talking albeit with some illegal help along the way.

Nowadays the results are important don’t get me wrong but more and more pro contracts are including an increasing amount of media obligations – and rightly so!

Most young riders don’t realise what this means… and the subsequent opportunity it presents.

If you can show an ability to be of big value to your sponsors it can really heighten your chances of netting a team.

Some teams and the management themselves don’t fully realise the opportunity they have at their feet to attract or keep big sponsors either.

For some reason it seems to be the odd individual that steps ahead of the game and starts to document their own journey.

For a lot of riders that are on the cusp of the higher pro ranks this could be the ticket to opening the door where previously genetics, ability, luck and other factors might have closed the door.

The teams

 Sponsors come and go in cycling all the time.

When I was with Rapha they were known for being the longest standing continental pro team in the world.

They are now gone of course.

Could teams do more for their sponsors?

Absolutely!

I scratch my head at the missed opportunity’s of teams documenting content of the world/bubble they live in.

People want to see this stuff!

We don’t have a team here at A1 only a couple of staff and a few mates in the locality – yet we churn out content.

There’s no excuse for teams and if they used their heads they would include making this stuff happen within their budget.

It could be the difference between no budget the following year or perhaps even a bigger one.

If you’re a young rider looking to make it in the world of cycling trust me – make yourself sellable!

The worse case scenario is that you don’t quite make it but documenting your process and learning the in’s and out’s of the social media and marketing world will be invaluable later down the line.

Also future employers can visually see what you done during your late teens early 20’s where your curriculum vitae states ‘aspiring professional cyclist’.

Moral of the story – Give more!

In 2017 for most mere mortal cyclists with a dream of going pro turning your legs over isn’t enough anymore.

Let us know your thoughts,

Aaron Buggle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going through motion

 

Its that time of year again.

A lot of the bigger events have been and gone.

It’s different for me because the Rás wasn’t this big event that I trained meticulously for.

There’s still an anti climax of course, but I’m back to normal now thankfully which means work and home life take priority and I’m riding purely for the fun of it again.

A lot our clients have just finished the likes of the Rás, ring of Beara, Belfast gran fondo, and soon enough the Wicklow 200 and the national championships will be a thing of the past.

This see’s a lot of riders scraping the barrel for motivation.

A mental battle commences that typically results in you feeling bad about not training enough and eating too much biscuits.

So you beat yourself and you just feel a little shit about it all.

What to do?

 First of all it depends a lot on what events you have coming up.

If you’re doing the national championships in less than a fortnight you can’t afford to stop riding now that’s pretty obvious.

If you have no real objectives at the moment and you’re a bit lost and unmotivated to train or it simply doesn’t feel like you’re training towards a goal you should consider a ‘mid season recovery period’.

I don’t call it a break – A break resonates with me negatively so I like to change the terminology around a little.

A mid season recovery period is not just a period of being lazy it’s a time to let you’re body catch up a little physically and most importantly psychologically.

You mentally and physically recharge and things become clearer in your head.

You begin to look forward to the end of the season but also look at those events as opportunity’s to really perform and net some results instead of simply ‘going through the motions’.

A recovery period that I often recommend works as follows:

1-week recovery period –

Following a race/event or big training day hang up the bike.

3-5 days without as much as cleaning your chain.

2 days consisting of easy rides of 90 minutes tops ideally with a mate or two that include a coffee stop.

Then resume proper training under the guidance of a plan or coach.

Things to note!

You’re not burning as much calories.

The last thing you want to do is stack on the kilo’s so pull back the calories to your suit your daily needs.

For me a day off the bike while still being somewhat active this is about 2200 kcal – I simply won’t exceed that and I make sure the calories are coming from the correct macronutrients proportionately (within reason).

Try to eat well during this period and really replenish your body with the food and nutrients it really needs.

Another tip is to leave your bike into the bike shop just before your recovery period and also give it a wash.

This just means you’ll want to jump back on when you’re ready and you won’t have to wash it first!

Remove those barriers!

A recharge period is not a sign of weakness – rather it shows a level of maturity and knowingness of your bodies needs.

Enjoy your rest.

Aaron Buggle

The fitness comparisons within the Rás

 

During the ras you soon realise the different tiers regarding the level of riders in the race.

There are guys there to hide and simply survive.

Others that want their day in a breakaway.

Others race for county prizes.

And then there are guys racing for overall and stage glory.

This year Anthony, Mc Kenna and myself spanned across these different levels.

The funny thing is I have a perspective from each of these levels because I’ve been at each of these levels.

Séan (Lurky) was racing to win or at least helping his teammates to do so.

Anthony wanted a crack at a stage and done so by getting in the break – but seeing as he can’t even finish his dinner the result unsurprisingly didn’t come his way.

Then there was me – 100 % pure unadulterated survival mode.

The next step and me

 The difference between Anthony and I in the rás was actually large enough on paper but in racing terms it was not being able to hold on that extra two minutes before the elastic snapped or simply poor positioning.

For me to get to Anthony’s level the changes wouldn’t be all that severe I didn’t ride much over the winter.

I done tonnes of gym work as it just fit easier with work and studies.

I’d have to keep the legs turning over winter.

I haven’t raced this year or last which was arguably the biggest hurdle I faced because not only was the speed a shock riding in such a big group was also new again.

Simply put a bit over winter, start racing earlier than stage 1 and some hard structured work in the 2 months prior to the rás would put me up there with Anto.

Anthony’s step up to Lurky

 The step from Anthony to Lurky to the naked eye doesn’t look too much.

There is at least a 5 % gap here all the same but people might think that gap is easy to close.

Wrong.

For Anthony to get there the sacrifices he’d have to make would be huge.

He’d struggle to continue working as we do at A1 so business would struggle.

He’d almost certainly be single – yeah I know.. he actually does have a mrs.

In other words it would be a complete lifestyle overhaul.

I know what its like the higher the level the bigger the sacrifice.

The higher the level the smaller the improvements are.

You have to claw with your fingernails for every 1 %.

For me I enjoy my balance and while I done the rás well under par I am content with where I’m.

I wouldn’t do it again at that level of fitness however – next time I’ll prepare accordingly.

 One thing is certain however neither Anthony nor I would be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to compete with the long string of misery that is Lurky.

We have the t-shirt and wouldn’t go back for love nor money!

 

 Aaron Buggle

The RAS – A Laptop view

 

( It’s a guest blog from Tim O Regan)

Hello again Tim O Regan here

So here I am, halfway through the season, long evenings, warm dry sunny days in this “current heatwave”, the long winter spins in preparation for the Ras are a distant memory.

It was a week of mixed emotions after the Elliott and coming up to the Ras, I was on the start line Wednesday Night but by Thursday I couldn’t commit due to work. It will be worth it later in the year I hope!

I hesitantly rode into the Ras start at Dublin Castle in Sunday morning, wearing the Gabba and knee warmers, for fear of standing around and getting cold and a small bottle of water to sip on, sure id only be out for 30-40 mins, the head wasn’t in the mood for training today.. Or so I thought!!

Soon after arriving down, the excitement, the regret of not starting and the atmosphere hit. A team mate Mark mentioned he was doing 6 hours, another slagged saying im in no condition for 6 hours, challenge accepted and soon I was back in my apartment losing the warmer gear and filling bottles and pockets for a day in the Wicklow mountains.

Back into Dublin castle to say the final farewell to the lads. As the Ras rolled out a quick chat with Mick Fitz and my regrets on not doing it, his response, sticking with me even now,

“it looks all well and good here but 10 minutes out the road I know what happens, and he was and is right. Hell” So into the Wicklow mountains myself and Mark went, and I bloody loved every minute of it, his enthusiasm and dedication must have rubbed off, shame his fearless descending didn’t?.

Coffee stops, visits to Glenmalure, Sally Gap, Wicklow Gap, rain and sun it was an epic spin, the longest in over a year for me and I arrived home with the bug back, it could have been worse as had a touch of the bonk near the end.

Nearing home I seen a woman who had been knocked off her bike, cementing how vulnerable we are so take care out there, she had a crowd around her and looked to be getting the required help. On I went as there was nothing I could do.

So Post Ras: Did I make the correct choice? I think so, I have a Mortage to save for, love work, I am not going 100% so to ride the Ras would only have been for the sake of it, and sure iv done that numerous times. Except, I was still glued to the laptop, phone or whatever internet access I could get from 11-3pm daily.

For now im enjoying the bike again, nerves are dwindling. Had a savage weekend, of a 5 hour ride in the wet that I have to say I really did enjoy it and 3 hour race on Sunday in which the batteries literally ran out after I constantly was attacking for the first half of the race. Mark (Teammate) won, hes motoring and wish him all the best as he heads off to Belgium for afew weeks racing. Yesterday evening spent the last few laps of a fast and furious race in Mondello off the front only to be caught with 300m to go, the legs are coming back at last I hope.

Until next time,

Tim O Regan

Aqua Blue