A Cyclist's Non-Cycling Wish List

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s also the gift-giving season.  Finding the perfect gift can be one of the most stressful parts about the season.  Well, this blog post is here to help.  

At Catalyst Coaching, we’re all about whole body health.  Keeping the body healthy takes a lot more than just the latest cycling gear.  Instead of listing our favorite cycling gear, we’ve created a non-cycling wish-list that’s got our top 5 favorite things we use to stay healthy.  So, without further ado, here it is:

  1. Food Processor/Blender. There’s nothing quite like a post-ride recovery smoothie in the summer (or winter!).  But, you can do a lot more than make smoothies.  Homemade pesto is one of my favorite things to make (a future blog will cover my favorite recipes) and helps me get a bunch of healthy greens in my diet. A blender is better for smoothies while a food processor is better for pestos and other fancy kitchen prep.  If you had to choose one, a quality blender would be your best bet.

  2. Slow Cooker. I love coming home and having dinner ready for me.  I can get everything put in the slow cooker before I head to the office or out for a ride, and it’ll be ready when I get home.  Great for making hearty soups or stews.  I’ve also made pastas with relative ease!

  3. Rice Cooker. The time-saving appliances strike again!  I love rice and cooking it is easy.  However, I’m easily distracted and a rice cooker allows me to make perfect rice without paying attention.  It’s hard to imagine life without it.  As a side note, there are appliances which combine a slow cooker, rice cooker, and pressure cooker all into one.  That’s hard to beat…

  4. Massage Gift Certificates. Massage is an amazing recovery tool.  Yes, foam rollers can help but they’re not as good as the real thing.  A lot of massage therapists offer gift certificates this time of year. It’s a great way to treat yourself and keep your body happy.

  5. Yoga Pass. Another in the gift card basket.  Yoga helps strengthen and stretch the muscles to help you stay healthy.  Get a pass for a yoga class.  Or at least get a yoga mat for home so you can do your own “practice” – there are a number of videos on YouTube.

  6. Resistance Bands. We’re giving you one extra gift idea because we’re in the gift giving mood… Resistance bands are great for working muscles that are often neglected in cycling. And the best thing about them is that they’re easy to take with you when you travel!

Use this list to create your own wish-list.  Use this list to help you buy something for your health-conscious friend/partner/family member.  Or, print this list out and leave it somewhere for your secret santa to find…

No matter what, we hope this list helps take some of the stress away from the holiday season.  Now, get out there and enjoy the holidays!  Thanks for reading!

Kegga G's OFRR

What is your favorite ride? That is the question we posed to Keegan Swirbul. I think everyone’s got that special ride, where they just feel like it’s their road, a route that they could ride day after day. It may be an ever moving target - but it’s a really cool, special, connection in an era of wattages and intervals, where sometimes we miss what the surroundings actually look like. We wanted to check in with some of our athletes and see what their favorite ride is and what makes it so special. Hopefully we won’t ruin anyone’s ride by giving away their secret spot!

Kegga G has placed his “tag” all over the state of Colorado, jumping from one Strava KOM to the next , and we thought he’d be the perfect athlete to start with. Here’s what he had to say:

For the new age, gravel/adventure crazed cyclist, nothing can top a long, twisty, narrow gravel road that snakes and switchback's its way up through one of the most picturesque national parks America has to offer. Rocky Mountain National Park's Old Fall River Road is America's best hope for matching some the European giants we all drool over while watching the grand tours on TV. The famous Giro d'Italia climb, the Colle delle Finestre is the closest relative to Old Fall River Road (OFRR). While the Finestre might be a touch longer or even a bit steeper, my favorite Colorado climb boasts one thing far more grand than its Italian cousin. MEGA, mega altitude! Toping out at almost 12,000 feet above sea level, OFRR is, lets just say, wayyyy up there. But don’t let the fact that you will feel like you are breathing through the smallest of straws deter you from hitting this classic ride. It is no doubt one of the coolest rides in the country! 

OFRR.jpg

This ride is pretty simple to hit and there are hardly any places where you could make an incorrect turn. Park your bus in Estes Park and jump on your bike. The park charges a 12 dollar day pass fee in order to enter, but do not fear...you will get your money's worth. Even if it means doing an extra lap up the 3,200 foot ascent ;) Jump on the paved Highway 34 which is also known as Fall River Road. Stay on 34 for 8 or 9 kilometers before taking a 90 degree right turn on to OLD Fall River road where the fun promptly begins. Fun, that is, if you enjoy suffering while grinding up a climb for the next 9 miles! It boasts a relatively steady gradient throughout its entirety and has a total of 15 sharp switchback turns to give it that classic Tour de France-style-climb feel that we rarely experience in America. If you are really fast, you will be able to enter the elusive 'sub hour club' joining professional riders such as Robert Gesink, Ted King, Alex Howes, Sepp Kuss, and Gavin Mannion who all clocked up times in the mid 50's. Somehow, my time up the climb still triumphs all coming in at 50:13! Hopefully Sepp Kuss doesnt go out for one of his legendary KOM assults on this climb for a few more months so I can continue to enjoy my pride and joy KOM for a bit longer ;) 

IMG_4355.JPG


You will be able to tell you are getting close to the summit of this beast when you are getting to the top of the ridge line. You will be greeted by a very welcomed water bottle fill up option in the restaurant which is open all summer and most of fall until the snow flies. After a quick regrouping stop, hop on and enjoy the fruits of that 12 dollars you paid to enter the park a few hours ago. Trail Ridge road is an absolute BEAUTY and the pavement matches its illustriousness. You will enjoy glass smooth and pothole-less tarmac for miles and miles as you barrel down this screaming fast and relatively untechnical decent. During peak season, watch out if you are going too fast as there are quite a few tourists who are not the most cyclist-aware drivers on earth. Other than that, let er rip!!! This road will take you right back in to Estes park for a total of 41 miles and a perfect looking loop to upload to Strava for those Strava obsessed people like myself ;) Enjoy this beauty of a day on the bike!!

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 7.32.16 AM.png

The Spooky Time of Year

Happy Halloween! In honor of one of my favorite holidays, today’s blog post covers one of the scariest topics in sport: goal setting.  Now I know, I know, there are better ways to incorporate Halloween into a blog post (like how slow and steady can win the race). Instead, goal setting is the focus as it’s that time of year when athletes and coaches start to think about next season. 

For many athletes, goal setting can be scary – the idea of setting a goal and not achieving it can be a terrifying thought.  However, a proper goal should be a little scary because it pushes your limits. For example, a goal could be to get to 75 houses for trick-or-treating.  It’s been a while since I last went trick-or-treating (a year to be exact…), but 75 houses means covering a lot of ground and if I fail, I could end up exhausted and stranded over by that poltergeist house

It’s important that your goals are difficult yet potentially achievable.  The goal of getting to 75 houses for trick-or-treating may sound like a lot, but last year I got to 60 houses.  While adding on an extra 15 houses isn’t exactly easy, it’s still feasible based on how many I got to last year.  Aiming for 100 houses on the other hand, would certainly push my limits and isn’t something that would be possible since last year’s 60 houses left me pretty worn out.  Setting myself up for failure isn’t going to be fun for anyone. 

The important thing is to find the right balance between pushing your limits and making a goal too easy.  An ambitious yet achievable goal will keep you motivated to improve as an athlete.  Making it to 75 houses this year will require not only improved stamina and speed, but also the strength to carry that much loot.  With that ambitious goal in mind then, the motivation will come easy. 

Another important point is to create goals that get you excited.  You want to create goals that get your heart racing when you think about achieving them.  This aspect can be extremely variable between people and is why there are so many different possible goals.  For me, it’s the stomach ache from 75 houses worth of candy that gets me excited.  Whatever the case is for you, the important thing is that you’re dreaming about the day you get to achieve your goal.

One last thing about goals.  Goals are not meant to be kept a secret.  Goals should be shared with friends, family, mummies, ghosts, etc. so that they can be there to support you.  A strong support system is needed whenever you are trying to achieve your goals (just ask any NASCAR driver).  Once you’ve decided on your goals, let those around you know. 

Through this post, I’ve told the world my Halloween goal.  It’s ambitious but it’s kept me motivated to train all summer.  And there’s a chance I may not achieve it, but as they say, it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.  Or, as the great Warren Miller said, “if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!” Hopefully you’ve learned something and can create your own fun and ambitious goals for next year.  Now, to get my costume all set for the big night.  Hopefully all 75 houses get it… Thanks for reading!

The State of Professional Cycling

There is plenty of commentary at the moment on the “state” of professional cycling. Folks don’t usually seem to refer to the current affairs as a “state” when it’s in a good way, so I guess it’s simple enough to say it’s in a bad way.

Just in the US teams have been folding, some of our best riders are struggling to find jobs, it takes a bit of the fun out of it. People are frustrated, angry, confused. I don’t know if it is necessarily confusing - I am not sure that sponsors of domestic cycling teams get much in terms of any return on investment. Sponsorship at least on the domestic level probably does not really make sense regarding return on investment, it comes down to enthusiasm and philanthropy. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but a thing that in my opinion needs to be realized and embraced. I don’t want to get too far down that road though as there is plenty of opinion and commentary out there, and in no way do I feel I’m an authority to speak on it.

More to me, the message is - do people want to be involved in professional cycling, despite the “state”. Yesterday I was catching up with an athlete over coffee, reviewing this past season and getting ready to set off in pursuit of the 2019 season. This athlete is right in the eye of the storm, riding for a UCI continental team registered in the US. In many ways he is one of the lucky ones, to have a spot with a professional team in a year when a lot of guys with gorgeous resumes are struggling to find jobs. He is lucky in one sense, but he is also seeing his friends, his peers, folks that he respects and have invested massively in cycling - he’s seeing those folks get totally forced out of cycling. A lot of guys are not racing in 2019, and it’s not for lack of want, or desire - it’s for lack of opportunity. I suppose this is the “state” of professional cycling in the US, it is lacking opportunity. Now, perhaps that is a greedy perspective to have - to say that it is lacking opportunity when we have a U23 team that is taking U23 riders and giving the opportunity to do a World Tour race, and we have two “domestic” races where continental teams can go up against World Tour teams (UT and CO), well that does not really sound like lacking opportunity. So perhaps it is greedy (trying to avoid a “greed is good” reference here). Back to the point though - despite being one of the “lucky ones”, how does one get motivated to put so much time and energy into a sport, that he sees essentially “abandoning” his peers who he feels have invested as much or more. It feels unjust, and one does not necessarily want to feed that machine. It was interesting, and refreshing to hear this perspective - this perspective that people are not just blood hungry and out to push their peers down to grab the spots available, but they want to see all succeed. Unfortunately, the sentiment of “there’s plenty to go around” does not really exist at the moment.

We need more teams, we need more races. Maybe we need more races first, for more teams to happen. I certainly do not have an answer, and if I did have an answer I don’t have the power to put it into play. However, it is interesting (and certainly an easy conversation to find at the moment) to speculate on it. The point I’d bring up on the contrary is - we still do have some of the highest performing teams we have ever had. We have teams that are growing, and competing on higher platforms than they ever have before. We are seeing US riders that have been grinding away for 10 years starting to break out into huge results and in Europe. There are more US riders in the World Tour in the past few years than there have ever been. It may not always look shiny from the outside - but my cliche’d “call to arms” would be that if folks enjoy cycling, stay with it. Don’t get bitter, don’t get cynical - stay with the sport - find a way you can make it better. What cycling may need now more than anything, is simply people, engagement - if folks care about cycling, don’t walk away now!

Thanks for reading the rantings and ravings.

Adventure Time!

Just because the summer racing season is over, doesn’t mean all the fun is over.  In fact, this has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  Racing is over, fitness is high, and the Fall weather is keeping things cool and crisp. All of this adds up to be the perfect recipe for an adventure ride. 

The adventure ride is unique in that each person will have their own interpretation.  At its essence though, the adventure ride is about losing the training structure, pushing yourself, and having fun. 

For most of the year, we’ll tell you that structured training rides are the key to maximizing your fitness gains.  This is one of those times in which that’s not the case.  After a long season of racing, the mind (and body) need a break.  Before taking time off the bike though, it’s a great time to take a step back and just get back to what got you into cycling in the first place.  To keep the ride unstructured, ignore all of your usual data numbers – power, heart rate, and even time.  Instead of looking at numbers, look around you and take it all in

20151011_145250.jpg


A good adventure ride should also push your limits.  Plan a ride that’s longer than what you normally do.  Plan a ride which involves more climbing than you normally do.  Maybe plan a ride with both more miles and climbing than usual.  The goal here isn’t training.  Instead, it’s about finishing a ride you weren’t quite sure was feasible.  A good adventure has to test your limits…

The most important part of a good adventure ride is to have fun.  This is where you get to make the ride unique to you.  You can stick to the paved roads.  You can explore some dirt roads.  You can make it a point-to-point destination ride.  You can make it a loop out to your favorite donut shop in the next city.  The possibilities are endless!

Recruiting friends for the adventure adds to the fun.  As you’re pushing your limits, it’s great to have friends around to help you get through it (we at Catalyst have had our fair share of rides with severe bonking and reliance of friends to pull us all the way home).  Friends can also liven up the miles.  If it gets too lively and the conversation won’t move on from a dumb mistake you made during the season, drop them on the next climb.  It’s all in the name of fun!

Last but not least, you must end an adventure ride by treating yourself.  Following up the ride with a treat is just another way to give yourself a good mental break.  If you’ve done it right, you should’ve worked up an appetite and can treat yourself to a big meal.  You’ll likely spend a significant amount of time riding and thinking about what you’ll eat after the ride, but if you need inspiration, a good burrito has always been one of our favorites.    Thanks for reading!