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Cross Training for Cyclist- Climbing

When you hear someone mention rock climbing most people think upper body strength. In fact when I have invited friends to try climbing they usually accept or decline based on how many pull-ups they can do. “No man I can only do like 1 or 2 pull-ups”. So what place does this upper body focused activity have in a cyclists cross training regime. Plenty….The main reason…..Good climbing technique utilizes your legs and core as much, if not more than your upper body.  You propel your self up the wall with your legs. Your hands and arms are mainly used to keep you connected to the wall.

Climbing also requires you to focus on your hip alignment and weight distribution. This increased awareness of where your weight is being distributed can translate well to the bike from slight body “english” tweaks that keep you upright to really carving and aggressively controlling the bike.


Bouldering on a slightly overhung wall

Core strength – Climbing incorporates all of your core from your hips to your shoulders not just your abs.
By climbing steep to overhanging routes you will engage your core extensively.

Grip strength – Climbing requires significant grip strength especially with smaller holds for those of you who have had forearm pump issues from braking to much this can help.
When you first start climbing you will most likely experience forearm pump. With some technique and practice and rest between climbs you should be able to climb longer without experiencing this. You will train yourself to hold on just tight enough and engage other muscles to keep you connected to the wall and moving up.

Flexibility – While climbing will not make you more flexible it requires that you are. So it can force you to stretch. I find a gentle stretch of hands, shoulders and legs before a climb followed by some deeper stretching after I am warmed up provide the flexibility I need to climb without pulling anything or cramping.

Anaerobic Training – Climbing can be strenuous and will engage Aerobic as well as Anaerobic system. Strenuous climbs will help you to train buffering lactic acid.

How to start: An indoor climbing facility is a great place to start there you can rent all the gear you need (Shoes, harness, chalk and bag)
Most climbing gyms will have facilities for:
Top rope climbing – Climbing with the aid of a rope running from your harness up to an anchor at the top and then back down to a belayer.
This type of climbing requires a partner who is trained in belaying. Some gyms have auto belay devices which allow you to climb top rope routes without a partner.
Bouldering – Climbing that does not use a rope, but also does not climb more than a 10-15 feet off the ground. climbing is focused on making a handful of hard moves referred to as a problem.

 Climbing Shoes are your most important piece of gear. You won’t be able to climb too well with your  gym shoes.
The design, rubber and fit of climbing shoes help with executing core footwork techniques such as smearing, edging and hooks.
If you like climbing you should invest in a good pair of shoes. Look for a shoe demo day at you local rock gym.
Additional gear includes a harness (required for top rope climbing), a chalk bag and chalk.

Getting Familiar with climbing technique
There are a lot of videos and websites available. The Rock Climbing for beginners video series provides simple and clear instruction on climbing basics.
A good book for bouldering is Better Bouldering (How To Climb Series)

Climbing engages every part of your body not just your arms and back. It is a great for overall conditioning and is a lot of fun. But be forewarned it can be addictive.

Cross Training for Cyclist- Yoga

Yoga for Cyclists

Yoga can be at the center of any sports, cross training program. This is especially true for cyclists. Yogic Practice will not only help improve flexibility and core strength, but can also improve breath control, body alignment, balance, and provide you with better overall awareness of your body and how it moves.

As a Cyclist we tend to have overdeveloped quadriceps, tight hamstrings and Iliotibial bands (IT Bands). This can lead to knee and hip pain. Riding in a hunched over position for hours can lead to back pain. This can keep us off the bike.

Practicing a few basic poses with proper alignment can help to alleviate these pains and make cycling more enjoyable.
yogaPigeon Pose  and some variants can be really helpful to open the hips, relax and gently stretch the back, neck, and shoulders – throw in a thigh stretch to flex your hamstrings and it very well could be one of the best poses for a cyclists.
Be careful not to hurt your knees 


The second biggest complaint I hear from cyclists is back pain. From lower back spasms to shoulder and neck tightness, these back of the body ailments can make longer rides torturous.

Recommended poses:


Downward Dog – This well-known Yoga pose will work your entire body


Bridge Pose – Stretches your chest, neck, spine and hips. Strengthens your back, buttocks, and hamstring muscles.


Cobra Pose – Strengthens your back muscles and arms. Increases the flexibility of your spine.
Stretches your chest, shoulders, and abdomen. Train you to pull your shoulder blades back and down the back to relieve tightness while on the bike

One added benefit from yoga is the awareness it brings to you about how your body moves and how you breath. Yoga brings focus to how muscles engage, body mechanics, and the need to create space for you breath.

Some alignment shifts I have made and the benefits I have seen on the bike are: A slight tilt of the pelvis to create a curve in the lower back enabled me deliver more force to the pedals, engage the abdominal muscles, and prevent lower back pain and lower my Perceived Effort.
Changing my cleat angle and fore aft position corrected my foot alignment.
This helped the knee to track correctly throughout my pedal stroke and alleviated some knee pain I was experiencing while also helping me to deliver more power to the pedals. I had already done a bike fit in the past but this added awareness helped me to fine tune previous adjustments.

In order to achieve all of the benefits of practicing Yoga and avoid injury, it is recommended that you find a certified instructor
(This person will have undergone a 200-500 hour teacher program and should have at least a 1,000 hours of teaching experience.)
They should be able to guide you in proper alignment and breathing while taking you through poses appropriate for your level and ability.
If you are unable to perform a pose they will offer a modification or prep for the pose rather than trying to force you into the pose.

Look for recommendations from friends and online and checkout a few different classes. When you click with the right style and instructor go with that.
My recommendation

Good Luck adding yoga to your training regime for better flexibility, power, aerobic capacity, and injury prevention.

Cross Training for Cyclists – Intro

Cross Training for Cyclists

Cross Country Skiing,
Weight Training,
Martial Arts

Fitness experts have long touted the benefits of Cross training. For cyclists the winter (off season) is a great time to incorporate
non-cycling specific activities into their training regime.

While the physiological benefits of cross training such as reduced risk of Injury and Improved total fitness are well known.
The psychological benefits should not be overlooked. If you have every spent mind numbing hours on a trainer or rollers you know what I mean.
Also with new activities come new challenges and a better awareness of your body as you access it to perform new movements and engage muscles previously neglected.
Targeted training, especially intervals designed to improve pedal mechanics and form (such as fast pedals and one-legged pedaling) can produce significant benefits. Spending hours on the trainer will have diminishing returns and most likely wear you out mentally.
A change of scenery and “routine” can do wonders for your psyche.
After a while of mixing it up rather than grinding away indoors on the trainer.
You will find yourself ready for the new season more motivated and excited to be back on the bike than if you did not cross train.

In this series we will look at some common and not so common cross training activities that will have you rejuvenated in both mind and body.
Who knows you may even find a new favorite activity.

How to train for the Tour de France – The Yellow Jersey

2013 TDF Winner Chris Froome

Chris Froome – Winner of the 2013 Tour de France

The Tour de France has concluded and the yellow jersey (le maillot jaune which identifies the overall race winner) Has been awarded.

The Yellow Jersey recognizes the best racer overall.

Chris won the tour by being at the front during the flat stages

  • Performing well in the time trials
  • Chasing down break-aways with competitors that posed a threat
  • And of course taking time from everyone on the mountain stages.

For our final article in the series we will look at intervals that will develop your ability to climb, time trial, and ride at the front.

The yellow Jersey Awarded to the tour de France overall winner

The Coveted Yellow Jersey

Descending Intervals – will help to increase Anaerobic power, lactate threshold, and repeat-ability to short intense efforts.
How to do it:  I prefer to do these on an indoor trainer but a flat stretch of road will work as well.
Use a moderate gearing and a high pedal cadence of 110+ rpm for each interval.  Attack each interval as hard as possible then jump out of the saddle and continue to go all out if you need to shift to a lower gear but do not allow the intensity to drop. You will be at you max heart rate these intervals are designed to not allow for complete recovery and to train your body to buffer lactic acid better. Perform 2 sets of 4 consecutive intervals. Ride and recovery are the 120 seconds ride time 120 seconds recovery then 90,60, and finally 30
Rest for 5 min between sets.

 Muscle Tension Intervals – will develop cycling specific strength for climbing.
How to do it: Perform on a long moderate climb or  trainer with the front wheel raised. Cadence will be low between 50-55 rpm.
Gearing is high 53×12 to 53×15. This gearing and the incline will put stress on your muscles especially your quadriceps make sure your form is good engaging the core pulling with your arms and pedaling circles not squares

OverUnder Intervals – Build power above lactate threshold.
How to do it: On a relatively flat road or trainer use a moderate gearing and a high pedal cadence of 100+rpm lowly bring your Heart rate up to your lactate threshold (80-85% of your max hr) Maintain this intensity for 5 min then increase your Heart rate by 3-5 beats and hold at that intensity for 1 min then drop the intensity back to Lactate threshold. Continue this pattern for 3 cycles a total of 18 minutes. These intervals will train your body to buffer lactic acid and improve your tolerance.

Training Notes:
Do not perform any Interval without first establishing a good foundation of base miles.

Other articles in the series

Young Rider


The White Jersey - Awarded to the Best Young RiderBesides the yellow jersey (le maillot jaune) which identifies the overall race winner, there are three other contests that play out during The Tour de France.

Each Jersey recognizes the best racer in their respective category.

By incorporating interval training into your rides you can develop your tour winning fitness.

Each article in the series will cover a different Jersey – Today we will look at the Best Young Rider Category.

Best Young Rider - White Jersey

The White Jersey is awarded to the best rider under 26 years of age.
The Tour de France is a race like no other with 21 stages and over 3,000 Kilometers many stages include climbs that are beyond categorization, strong headwinds, crashes, and crazy fans and caravans that can take out a rider in an instant. Experience plays as much a role as fitness and tactics.

The best young rider needs to have an excellent base fitness and handling skills. – below are some intervals and training tips to help develop these.

Tempo – will help to increase your aerobic capacity and prepare your body for more explosive workouts.
How to do it:  After warming up ride at around 80% of your Max HR cadence should be low at around 70-85 rpm during climbs stay seated to strengthen connective tissues and supporting muscle groups.
Ride time at tempo can be between 30 to 120 minutes depending on development stage.

Steady State – will increase your lactate threshold.
How to do it: Ride between 80-85% of your max HR and a cadence between 85-90 RM on flat road and 70-80 RPM while climbing.
Perform 2 intervals of 20 minutes each with 15 min of recovery
Steady state intervals can be incorporated into your Tempo workouts.

Aspects of a TurnBike Handling

  • Practice cornering
    • Control your speed – Brake prior to entering the turn a free rolling wheel tracks better and allows you to carve a turn.
    • Weight the outside pedal down to increase pressure on the wheels and improve bike stability.
    • Pick your line – Identify the apex of the turn and pick a line that has straightest arc (Entry,Apex,Exit)
    • Pedal out of the turn – Pump the apex of the turn and pedal through the turn exit.

Types of Pacelines used in Road Cycling

  • Learn to ride in the group
    • Take your turn pulling – maintain the groups speed, hold a straight line, look ahead and call out obstacles.
    • Drop off – After your pull is over quickly look back to check for traffic then move to the left of the paceline about a shoulders width and slow your pedal cadence enough to allow the paceline to pedal past.
    • Drop back – Don’t move out too far to the left. stay close enough to the paceline to maintain wind protection as the last rider pulls through smoothly transition back into the line.

Training Notes:
Do not perform any Interval without first establishing a good foundation of base miles.

Click here for more on riding in a paceline

How to train for the Tour de France – King of the Mountains

TDF Stage 2 Climbing

TDF Stage 2 – The main Field Chasing down Thomas Voeckler

Besides the yellow jersey (le maillot jaune) which identifies the overall race winner, there are three other contests that play out during The Tour de France.

Each Jersey recognizes the best racer in their respective discipline.

By incorporating interval training into your rides you can develop your tour winning fitness.

Each day we will cover a different Jersey – In honor of today’s stage we will focus on climbing.

The Polka-dot-Jersey is given to Best Climber. Known as the King of the Mountains This rider Posses an excellent Aerobic Capacity and Strength to weight ratio.

To help develop these attributes – here are three intervals that you can add to your workouts.

Climbing repeats – will help to increase your climbing lactate threshold which determines your endurance performance.
How to do it: Find a long (1 mile or more) steady climb and perform 2 intervals of 12 minutes each at 78-83 % of your max HR recover for 10 minutes between each interval.

Hill Sprints – will increase your power for uphill accelerations.
How to do it: Find a flat road leading into a steep uphill ride into the hill at about 15-20 MPH as you reach the hill, jump out of the saddle and give it all you have for 8-12 seconds allow a full recovery of about 10-20 minutes between intervals. When performing interval focus on your form and gearing to ensure that all your power is transmitted to the pedal and your are not wasting energy with superfluous movements.

Hill Accelerations – Build power and acceleration at lactate threshold.
How to do it: Begin slowly on a long moderate climb as you reach the last 500 yards of the climb gradually
increase your speed Try to time it so that at the end of the interval you are near your max hr.
perform 2 hill accelerations with full recovery between efforts.

Training Notes:
Do not perform any Interval without first establishing a good foundation of base miles.

If you live in northern NJ a favorite place for climbing intervals is the Alpine boat basin to the top of 9W

How to train for the Tour de France – Sprinting

TDF Stage 1 Sprint Finish winner Marcel Kittel

Stage 1 Sprint Finish winner Marcel Kittel

Besides the yellow jersey (le maillot jaune) which identifies the overall race winner, there are 3 other contests that play out during The Tour de France.

Each Jersey recognizes the best racer in their respective discipline.

By incorporating interval training into your rides you can develop your tour winning fitness.


Each day we will cover a different Jersey – In honor of today’s Stage we will cover Sprinting


The Maillot Vert - Green Sprinters Jersey

The Maillot Vert – Green Sprinters Jersey

Sprinters Posses explosive power for fast accelerations, high top end speeds, and high pedal cadence.
To help develop these attributes here are three intervals that you can add to your workouts that will have you crossing the line first..or at least be first to the coffee shop.
Power Starts – will increase your power to the pedals
How to do it: Start in a high (hard) gear at very slow roll, then jump out of the saddle and begin to stomp the pedals as hard as you can; pulling on the bars for leverage and tilting the bike back and forth to position your body over each pedal as you drive it down.
Perform 5 power-starts of 10-12 seconds each and recover between 5-20 minutes between efforts.

High speed Cadence – will improve your pedal stroke and train you to keep your body “quiet” while your legs are moving like crazy.
How to do it: I prefer to perform this interval on a trainer but you can perform on a long flat stretch of road. Pick a low gear (easy) and ramp up your cadence to 100-120 RPM.
Start with 3×5 min intervals and a 10 minute recovery. As you get better with these, increase the time up to 1×15 minute interval.
Your HR will be extremely high during these but focus on the RPM.

High Speed Sprints – will increase your top-end-speed and peak power.
How to do it: On a slight downhill pedal at a high speed. (not your top speed) Then, Jump out of the saddle and accelerate to your top speed. Return to sitting but maintain Speed for 8-12 seconds.
Be sure to employ proper form and a high cadence (110+)
Perform 5 High Speed Sprints of 8-12 seconds with 5 to 20 minutes of recovery between efforts

Training Notes:
Do not perform any Interval without first establishing a good foundation of base miles.
Perform one of the above intervals 1-2 times per week.

Stability-Ball Exercises to Build Strength and Flexibility

Great Abs
If you’re like many cyclists, after completing a long ride your biggest complaint isn’t the pain in your butt or legs; it’s the pain in your back, often caused by riding for extended periods in the drops or hunched position.

The key to thwarting the chiropractor and the massage therapist is developing core strength. A strong core region (abdominal, lower back and hip muscles) stabilizes your spine and acts as a link in the transmission of power between the upper and lower body.
Read more of Mike Price’s Article which appeared in Triathlete magazine

Get Outside and Enjoy the Ride

5 Ways to Improve Your 5K Speed

As short as it may seem, the 5K distance still offers a challenge to those with a need for speed. Use these tips to drop time and improve your overall training.
Click here to read More
Get Outside and Enjoy the Ride

Cross Training

Running is a great cross Training Activity here is a list of some running events coming up in November.
Most of them are 5k’s So you have October to get ready.

October Beer Fest on November 1st 5K Rahway, New Jersey

United We Race NJ Flemington, New Jersey

Drive Sober 2M Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Race Against Time to Beat Childhood Cancer Northampton, Pennsylvania

TurkeyRama 1M Family Fun Run Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Warrior Run Trails 5K Watsontown, Pennsylvania

Run with the Vikings 5K Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

Transitions Autumn Fest Washington (Warren County), New Jersey

5k for the Children’s Tumor Foundation Ithaca, New York

St. Joe’s Bob Ivory Run Tonawanda, New York

Beacon Animal Rescue 5K Run & 1M Paws and Claws Fun Run/Walk Sea Isle City, New Jersey

McGuire Mud Run McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey

Lindsay’s Legacy 5K Tonawanda, New York

The Interlaken Steeple Chase 5K Interlaken, New York

Autism Cares Foundation 5K Newtown, Pennsylvania

Dash for Drew Greencastle, Pennsylvania

HTCC Annual 5K/Pump & Run Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Love Your Lungs 5K Walk/Run Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Veterans Day 5K Summit Hill, Pennsylvania

White Rose Run York, Pennsylvania

Bergenfield Community Center 5K Bergenfield, New Jersey

Passaic Valley Rotary River Run Little Falls, New Jersey

Westfield Garden State Plaza 5K Paramus, New Jersey

5K Turkey Trot Pomona, New York

Fall Harvest 5K Race Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York

Fall Schiff Scout Off Road Duathlon Wading River, New York

Harrisburg Marathon & Relay Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Roman Run 5K Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trimax Seven Mile Sampler Leesport, Pennsylvania

Valatie Veteran Run Valatie, New York

5K Turkey Trot Franklin Twp, New Jersey

Goodwill 5000 Meter Run Montclair, New Jersey

Making Tracks for Families 5K Run & Fun Walk Buffalo, New York

Fight For Life 5K Apollo, Pennsylvania

Runnin’ Rover 5K Run & Walk Easton, Pennsylvania

DC 5K 4 H20 Amherst, New York

Great American Smoke Out Bloomsburg Pennsylvania

Schuylkill River Loop Run Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hanover Township Community Center 5K Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Thanks for Lebanon 5K & 10K Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Towamencin Turkey Trot Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis – Syracuse Syracuse, New York

Sparta Krogh’s Turkey Trot 5K Sparta, New Jersey

Turkey Day 5K PenNsauken, New Jersey

45th Annual Cohoes Turkey Trot Cohoes, New York

Active International Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Rockland Lake, New York

Gail Gorin Memorial Turkey Trot Smithtown, New York

Race with Grace to Benefit HDSA Hilton, New York

Smiles Change Lives Turkey Trot Blue Point, New York

Abington YMCA Gobble Wobble Abington, Pennsylvania

Burgettstown Turkey Trot 5K Run & Fitness Walk Burgettstown, Pennsylvania

Embarq Turkey Trot Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Run For The Diamonds Berwick, Pennsylvania

SMT Turkey Trot New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Tel Hai 5K Turkey Bowl Races Honey Brook, Pennsylvania

Turkey Trot Uniontown, Pennsylvania

Nazareth YMCA Pumpkin Pie 5K Run & Scenic Walk Nazareth, Pennsylvania

Jolly Holly Millville, New Jersey

Westfield 5 Mile Turkey Trot & 1M Westfield, New Jersey

Habitat for Humanity 5K Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Historic Turkey Trot 5K Run/Fitness Walk Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Home for the Holidays 5K Mansfield, Pennsylvania

Navesink Challenge Middletown, New Jersey

The Thanksgiving Sunday 10K & 3M Fun Run/Walk Long Branch, New Jersey

Get Outside and Enjoy the Ride