First of all, if you are likely to win the Tour de France (I mean really likely, not just hoping/delusional), please feel free to stop reading right here. As much as I love you (give me a call about my coaching…), this just doesn’t apply to you - for these are a list of reasons, mainly training mistakes, why you’re too shirt to win the TdF…
Of course my clients don’t make mistakes, so I enlisted the help of the trusty Spokes Coaching Team to input some common errors. If you’ve never taken a look at our coaching line-up, they are a mix of veteran coaches, world champions, professional and former professional athletes - of all genders, races, and located around the globe.
Listening to ‘Dave’
Everyone has a mate, affectionately known here out as ‘Dave’, who knows everything about cycling, training, performance, nutrition, sports psychology, history, literally every aspect of cycling. Most of your other friends have heard his (possibly her) stories and tales about how he once did this and it reaped this performance gain.
Coach Ian reminds us of this person, who is probably quite nice, but doesn’t leave a question unanswered, and has an opinion of just about everything.
Sadly, Dave is likely talking bull-shirt and is far from qualified to answer questions or offer advice - he’s probably not even a half decent cyclist. Listening to Dave is the fastest way to ensure you end up like him and no where near the TdF, so don’t listen to Dave’s non-personalised advice, seek professional help.
You can’t stay upright long enough
Thankfully, I’m being fairly dramatic here as this suggestion rarely results in an accident, but more likely just annoying noises, creaks, or slips of equipment. However, I’m sure we all have heard stories (probably from Dave) about someone who didn’t check their brakes properly and flew into an oncoming or parked vehicle, other inanimate object or, more tragically, another person.
However, you are certainly losing some performance with poor maintained equipment, not to mention a huge amount of time should you have a serious accident. Either way, this simple mistake isn’t going to win you any big races.
This suggestion is from our coach Penny, who reminds us that you should do a basic ‘M Check’ before every ride. Not sure what that is? It’s a quick look over your bike from front to back over the entire bike, you’ll notice that it draws an M. Check brakes, tyres, loose headset, loose pedals or crankset (chainset), and so on.
You think lower means more aero
Somewhat continuing the discussion around bad positions on the bike - well lying next to it on the floor is still a position - Coach Bryan brings this one screaming back to us. We’ve all seen this, the person who has seen their TdF heroes with slammed front ends and done that exact thing to their bike. If you’ve not noticed this, they are probably the person complaining that something hurts too.
Being lower on your bike might simply not be more aerodynamic and might possibly cost you a shirt ton of power too. There is an optimal position you will be able to hold, too low often results in your head being cranked up too high in the wind - not only does that create more drag, you look like a duck-head too.
Of course you can play with your position, and in fairness that’s good practise to test out, but this one is simple to fix in one quick motion: get a bike fit.
Lack of focus
Remember Dave telling you about the latest and greatest fad supplement of the month? No doubt you’ve been obsessing over where you can find an additional watt… is it that new protein powder, that vegetable powder, is there a new power meter on the market…? Coach Stefan reminds us that all of these are fairly plausible ways to see some improvements, but obsessing over them isn’t getting the training done, which isn’t going to win the TdF.
Focusing on the small stuff and not putting everything into training, is a great way to ensure you know lots about everything apart from being great on a bike - I have a feeling this is where every Dave starts his journey…
Next time focus on training and in your cool down, after you’ve smashed the session, look over something else.
Being a weight weenie
Talking of focusing on the wrong factor, being a weight weenie might be hurting your TdF aspirations too. Forgetting the fact that you can probably get your bike far lighter than the UCI weight limit for World Tour bikes anyway, you are certainly carrying more timber than you should be. Almost everyone will see greater weight losses from their person than their bikes - you’ll feel better being lighter than you will riding a crazy light bike too.
Coach Ian reminds us that an unnatural obsession in the lightest saddle, bottle cages, pedals, tubes, and so on, is not going to help you ride much faster. Of course if you have the money, you should spend it on what makes you happy, but might I suggest the money will be better spent on professional help that will help you lose weight safely, consistently and, curically, forever.
Getting fasted training wrong
Dave was saying something about fasted training the other day, right? While there are some amazing benefits to training fasted - weight loss and an increased ability to burn fat as a fuel are two great ones - there is a good way to do it and there is a bad way.
Jumping in with both feet is probably the fastest way to get fasted training wrong. Like with all training and nutritional changes, the body will need some time to adapt. Doing a century without fuel as your first fasted ride, is going to cause some complications, not to mention, you will feel pretty shirt and can kiss away this year's TdF hopes.
Take your time and start with something short and progress nicely until you are a lean, fat burning machine.
You’re using training zones rather than being more specific
I love this factor from Coach Bryan who tells us that zones have a fundamental flaw (especially when using heart rate) in that it encourages you to focus on an average, rather than being more specific. Essentially, you should be hitting a more specific power or heart rate for that interval and not allowing your measurements to rise and fall as your average keeps constantly in the right place.
This is quite challenging to do outside where small terrain changes can cause fluctuations in your power output, which is another reason why indoor training will help you improve faster. It’s even harder with heart rate that responds a lot slower than power and therefore might not be reflecting what zone you are actually in. In cases where your heart rate is slower to adjust, try to focus on feel too, this will help you keep closer to your target.
The good news
Thankfully you have a solution to resolve your training problems, our coaches will be happy to steer you through the crap and have you flying past Dave and his crap in no time.
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