Stevens women’s team report: Big miles, setbacks and podiums

The Stevens women in South Carolina.

The Stevens women in South Carolina.

Mid March saw the Stevens women gather for a last pre-season training camp in South Carolina.  With just a week before the race season started for some, it was the last chance to log big miles and finish off the base-work that the riders have worked hard on all winter.

While the weather was unseasonably cool, the team still logged nearly 25 hours of riding over seven days before heading home.  Each and every member of the team came to camp with good fitness and was able to get the most out of every training day. Continue reading

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Adversity as Opportunity

It is training Wednesday and today we have another guest post from Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. Steve has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amateur teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

Life as a competitive athlete is filled with challenges and obstacles of many forms:  flatting, crashing, getting caught out in bad weather, juggling family and job responsibilities with training and racing.  While many cyclists derive satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of a hard workout or race, those other unexpected obstacles can be harder to take in stride.

We can’t control when or where we’ll run into bad luck and adversity on the bike (or anywhere else).  Regular and thorough bike maintenance usually goes a long way to preventing equipment related issues, but flats and other mechanicals are unavoidable.  The same with crashes, last minute problems at work, bad weather, etc.:  we can do our best to avoid these scenarios, but they happen to all of us at some point.

It’s easy to get hung up on the downside of those times when adversity comes your way, but instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, I encourage you to focus on what you can control:  your reaction to the situation.   Did a flat tire take you out of the race?  Focus on trying to get back into the field, and use that opportunity to work on your TT skills and pacing.  Decreasing daylight, and sometimes broken bones from a crash confine us to the trainer.  Instead of dreading that trainer time, why not use it to work on your mental toughness and focus?   Bad weather, delayed flights, and problems at work are all things we can’t control.  But, staying calm and minimizing your stress and anxiety will likely leave you feeling fresher for your workout or race.

Coaches and athletes work together to create an optimal training and racing environment, but many days on the bike are far from ideal.  Embrace the challenges that come your way, and work on controlling your reactions to those obstacles.  Try to make the best out of those situations, and remember that perseverance and mental fortitude are skills that you can train when things aren’t going your way.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.

Off-The-Bike Tips for Cyclo-Cross

Today we have a guest post for our series on training. Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching has been coaching since 2004, and brings practical experience and a scientific background to his athletes. Steve began racing while attending Dartmouth College, where he studied biology and physiology. In his years of coaching, Steve has helped both amateur and professional athletes acheive their goals, with dozens of wins, medals at National and World Championships, and upgrades to Cat. 1 and 2 in road and mountain, as well as Pro MTB. With experience in road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing, Steve now focuses on the New England and NRC road season, racing for one of the nation’s top amatuer teams, BikeReg.com / Cannondale (formerly Fior di Frutta).

Be sure to visit the Bell Lap Coaching website for information on coaching and training. Steve will be posting regularly on Wednesdays about training and racing – if you have any questions for Steve, let us know.

3 Off-the-bike Tips for Your Best Cyclo-Cross Season Yet

As the late summer and early fall approaches, many riders are ramping up their training for the upcoming cyclo-cross season.  Before you roll to the start line this year, consider doing a little homework off the bike.

Set goals that are specific to your training objectives, race calendar, and resources.

Before the season starts, take some time to write a set of goals for your upcoming ‘cross season.  Think about what skills and areas of fitness you want to improve, as well as how races will fit into the big picture of your training year.  Sharing those goals with your coach can help you both come up with a great training plan for your ‘cross campaign, and give you a set of objective benchmarks against which to compare the season.

Prioritize your core work, stretching, and yoga.

So many cyclists will spend 12+ hours per week on the bike, but neglect to do a few 10 – 15 minute sessions of whole body strengthening and maintenance.   Try to work in a yoga class on Mondays for recovery, and make a habit of doing a thorough core routine 3 times a week.  Couple that with gentle stretching of your glutes, hamstrings, quads and hips (at a minimum) and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining the healthy and balanced body that you rely on so much while riding.

Be meticulous with your equipment preparation.

Cyclo-cross is demanding on your equipment, and regular maintenance is a must.  If you’re not a competent mechanic, it’s worth your time and money to take your bike to a local shop every week or two during the season.  And, make sure you’ve got a full compliment of spare and back-up parts when you head to the races.  Some great additions to your tool kit / race bag for ‘cross include a spare set of pedals and shoes; extra tires, chains, and brake pads; and, a bucket and brush for that quick post-race bike wash before the mud cakes on.

To contact Steve, email him or give him a call at  413.376.4880.