On December 7th Sterling Sports Group head coach Matt McNamara will host an Annual Training Plan (ATP) workshop on Zoom! This free 60 – 90 minute workshop starts at 7:30pm MST (mountain time). Join Coach Matt online for a deep dive into how to plan and build your best ATP ever!
An Annual Training Plan is a good first step in building a season to remember and has been the foundation of top level athletes for decades. This workshop is meant to be participatory, so you’ll need a few things to get the most out of the Zoom Workshop:
A Training Peaks Account! Access to the ATP requires a “Premium” subscription, available for a small fee for current users, or new users can get a 14-day trial for free HERE.
A link to the ZOOM Workshop, request access with a quick email to: SterlingSpeed@gmail.com
A list of target events, dates, and their priority to YOU
A review of your previous training. Download an example HERE
A basic season planning worksheet. You can download an example HERE
A good sense of your available training time each week.
With these basic elements you’ll be set! Simply log on at 7:30PM MST and we’ll dive in! Among the essential elements of a GREAT ATP we’ll dig into:
Was your last season successful? Why or why not?
Do you know your limiters and how to ID them?
What was your average weekly hours/TSS last year?
What was your CTL/TSB/Ramp Rate on your “best” days last year
What IS CTL/TSB/Ramp Rate anyway and why does it matter?
How DO I build my ATP – this is where the rubber meets the road!
This workshop is both a participatory experience and a philosophical perspective on having a plan for improvement as 2023 approaches
March 31 – April 10th we’ll ride famous roads with famous folks, get lost more than once and discover why it is so revered. This year we’ve gone a step above by partnering with The Lion of Flanders, Johan Museeuw for a few explorations. The main ride with Johan is our run from The Arenberg Forrest to Roubaix the Wednesday before the race itself. All in we’ll cover the last 100Km of the race with Johan!
A few other highlights…
Two World class Sportives. Most choose the 100 miles’ish versions, but details of each include great course support and rest stops, plus the enviable ambiance that permeats.
Oudenaarde housing – actually about 3Km outside of town in a great country setting. The house sits less than 200m from the last cobbles section of ?
Two World Class Monuments. To see these epics of cycling in person is reason enough, right? For Flanders we’ll probably catch the riders on the Kwaremont and Paterberg for a couple of passes, with options to add more if we want to ride a bit. For Roubaix we set up at the end of secteur 4, the notorious Carrefour de L’Arbre!
It’s the roads! Between the weekends we have open days to explore the roads. Over the years we’ve found some great routes that include pretty much every road you’d think of. Then we find the other roads. Watermelonstraat, The Muziekbos, or the Schapenberg & Sherpenberg combo are just a few of the hidden treasures. It’s when you start connecting the dots geographically that you truly feel Flanders. You recognize that down this little road and left is a great cafe or another secret little connector road.
Race bikes long enough and you’ve heard, or more likely said these exact words. Cycling is great because it’s aspirational – we all aim to ride better, faster, longer, and against better and better competition. That process is one of the main reasons, in my opinion, “roadies” are so elitist. Move up a category or two and suddenly, somewhat deservedly, you feel just a bit better than the rif raf in the category you just left. Then again the skills and speed required to “do-what-we-do” is also a legit reason to NOT want to spend too much time in close proximity to folks with less skill, experience, and awareness. There I said it – I’m roadie scum!
Ok, back to the point..
I started slow in racing. My first summer as a 16 or 17 year old I think I entered maybe two or three races (?). The only one I remember was a Junior Stage Race that included the Colorado contingent of the 7-11 Junior Team (the LUX of the time), home to Pete Stubenrach, Troy Miller, Clark Sheehan, and a bunch of other little badasses. I got my butt kicked, every stage.
Fast forward to 1989, all of 19 then, and in February I had moved to Tucson, Arizona to “get serious”. Six months of riding and training with the fine folks on the Gilmour Cycles team and I’d won my first race, podiumed a few others, and was on my way. Got my Cat 3 upgrade in July at the Longmont Criterium and then got my Cat 2 upgrade the next year at the same race (so technically from 4 to 2 in a year! lol… 🙂 )
In the fall of ’90 me and a couple of friends heard about a “legit” team being set up by the friend of a friend and he was having a try-out. Ding ding! Our big chance. The try out consisted of a time trial and road race on the famous Morgul-Bismark course outside Boulder. I don’t recall all those in attendance but for sure it was other up-and-comers like my buddy Chris Teufel and quasi nemesis Bill Ossofsky (he was always super strong, so naturally he sucks right? He’s actually a pretty good guy). I made the cut, I think there were 6 or 8 of us total. Next up we had a team meeting at the guys house – pretty sure his name was Bill and it sounded awesome. We’d have team bikes from Serotta – he had a gorgeous Purple and Evergreen painted one that was our “team edition”. We had some great training rides, including one night ride crit practice near Wash Park that was actually super productive and fun. We were all pretty new Cat 2’s and ambitious to put our mark on the Colorado scene so this was a really great opportunity.
Only it wasn’t
It was all an egotistical fuck you by this guy Bill. Why he thought putting together an imaginary team was a good idea I’ll never know – to our best efforts at finding them, there were NO potential sponsors, dollars, or any commitment to actually having a team. It seems he just wanted to blow smoke up a bunch of guys butts for some reason. The thing is it was a REALLY good group of riders that would have been an awesome and talented team. Nearly all of the guys on the squad went on to success in P1/2 races over the next couple of years, albeit on different teams of marginal awesomeness.
There is an amusing/horrifying anecdote to the story. We were on a training ride together a week or so after the final roster had been picked, headed up a Colorado classic, Lookout Mountain. The thing is, Bill was in the follow car and took that to the top. Then he decided to ride downhill with us. Now we were Cat 2 level racers and pretty decent on our bikes, whereas Bill was a prety hefty guy who didn’t really seem that comfortable on a bike. The top few turns are kinda tight and then it opens up into a fast section before a hard left. Well sure enough we get below the switchbacks and onto the fast section and here comes Bill, flying by full tuck, big ‘ol ass in the air, hauling!
All of us could see it coming. He was going way way too fast and the left turn was RIGHT THERE. Sure enough up pops his little head and the bike starts to wobble as he struggles to slow it down. Failing that he just lays the bike down at full flight and SLAMS, I mean SLAMS into the guardrail.
I thought he was dead.
We all thought he was dead. It took a bit to slow down and turn around, during which all of us were of the opinion “I don’t wanna go back”! We did, of course, but he was a mangled mess of road rash and destroyed equipment. I remember putting him in the car for the drive to the hospital and thinking how f’ing crazy it was. I don’t recall the long term outcome, but doubtltess it had lots of pain and oozing. I don’t think the idea of comeuppance is too far from what I feel about it now, and even in the weeks after the truth came out and we were screwed.
I’d like to juxtapose this situation with another “Team That Wasn’t”…
In 2007 I was about 6-8 months into working with a tech company that had jumped into supporting cycling in a big way. Indeed the company had put thousands into supporting 2 or 3 local clubs (including the one I rode for at the time), a couple of races, and was even developing a race series during the preceding season. So when they decided to up the ante and fund a race team for the coming year I was really excited! It was basically a dream come true for me. I can remember putting together the pitch deck and coming away from the meeting with nearly $100k in commitments to fund and support the team.
We dived in full force and set up a weekend try-out camp in September. The camp had 2 or 3 “stages”, overnight accommodations for riders and staff at a hotel near their offices, a fully developed assessment process and a group of probably 12-15 bad ass Cat 1/2’s from the NorCal scene. We held the camp, had Olympian and uber-pro Eric Wolhlberg on board as a likely DS, and he even came out to ride the “Heart of Darkness” route with us. It looked to be a totally pro set up! You can imagine how stoked I was.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. For whatever reason the CEO flipped completely. I recall several disagreements with him, devolving into shouting at least once. He was downright inappropriate and absurdly overwrought several times. Behavior I later learned was the norm. I recall one of them was over ownership of team equipment. He asserted that it was his and I disagreed as the agreement was for the sponsorship to come thru my company, as is the norm in cycling. That was a big one, but as I understand it the bigger deal was him spending all that money without any board oversight. They were pissed.
I pulled out of the deal when it became apparent that he had no intention of acting with integrity, even refusing to pay me for agreed upon work and expenses, among other generally dick behavior. I sent an email to everyone in November saying that I wasn’t going to be part of the program, but that it was intended to continue, per his words, “better than ever.” Indeed, they hired a different guy to run the show after me. Did it go? Of course it didn’t! He pulled the plug (or was forced to) on the whole shebang a month or so later.
I was dumbstruck and heartbroken for a long time. I’d dreamed of building a “pro” team for years and there it was only to slip from my fingers. I pulled out after long discussions with my wife about the right thing to do and acting with integrity, but the damage was done. Riders were caught off guard and eventually left in the lurch and I could do nothing for them. I have no doubt that many of them still bear a grudge towards me.
Was I any better than the first scenario? To me, yeah, of course I was. I didn’t lie or make things up, I just got caught in someone else’s deceit, but I wonder. Was I blind to reality? Was I part of the problem? I don’t doubt that I acted a dick on my own – I can be a bit of a hot head when pissed and remember ranting about “my team” to the director of marketing, who was my main point of contact. The comeuppance? Over the first few months of 2008 nearly all of the executive team, including the marketing director, left the company for greener pastures amid a “mysterious exodus” and in early 2009 the CEO left “to pursue other opportunities.” Rumors of his bad, and possibly criminal, behavior floated about, but nothing concrete that I ever saw came of any of it. Last I heard he was still rich and still an asshole.
I wouldn’t choose to re-live it nor repeat it, but the racing this year was truly spectacular. From Milan San Remo to Liege, Strade Bianche to Flanders, and the three Grand Tours, each week seemed to keep raising the bar on the next generation. There are some fine questions floating about, and doubtless many detractors, not all of their arguments wrong, but that’s not this post.
This is about fun, smart and hard racing. Some great tactics were played out across the non stop flurry of a shortened season. Fortunately there are lots of video summaries and analysis. I’m not here to do all that (I think), but rather to reflect
Those young guys – Read some interesting notes on relative power and the ascent of insane velocities and power on climbs. Things like Geoganhart in Italy, heck Rohan Dennis in Italy! Tadez Pogacar and Primose Roglic, and who can forget Sepp Kuss, EF’s Squadra of speedsters, you could go on and on. That’s not even touching Alaphillippe, Van der Poel, Wout van Aert, or Remco Evenepoel omg…it’s seems a pretty amazing time. Sagan, Nibali, and the like aren’t going away yet either, which makes the racing a dramatic mix of breaks and chases, opportunity and error. And so much fun.
I want the normal back. The World seems tossed upside down in so many ways, and yet we strive for those moments when people do amazing things, for the performance…because it’s really about the performance on a given day. Watching them pull it off…
A few favorites…
Milan San Remo is the traditional kickoff to the Monuments…except this year it was in AUGUST! That didn’t diminish the thrill in any way however as it was a typically aggressive race from over the Cipressa and Poggio. Julien Alaphillippe escapes with Wout VanAert and they hold on to sprint it out with the field hot on their heels. A two up sprint to a photo finish! Hold on, this seems a pattern for WvA this year (see below)
Tour de France Stage 14 – Sunweb executed perfect tactics over and over to eventually pop Soren Kragh Andersen off the front for the win. Of course it’s nice when you have such heavy hitters like stage 12 winner Marc Hirschi and Casper Pedersen to act as feints and foils, but to pull it off so textbook perfect was fun to watch. Putting 3 in the top 10 is also pretty cool. Stage Summary Video
De Ronde van Vlanderen – Superlatives have followed VdP and WvA since they were juniors. Wout seemed to (mostly) have the measure of Matthieu when it came to Cyclocross World Championships (again, and again, and again, and again) with VdP taking his revenge just about everywhere else when they went head to head. So to see the Flanders Moiiste come down to these two stars was both predictable and awesome. It all blew apart at about 45Km to go as the crested the Koppenberg climb at full charge. Over those last kilometers there was tension and non-stop action. That it came down to a two-up sprint, both riders fighting it out together all the way to the line (vs their negative approach to Gent Wevelgem) and it harkens back to the glory days of Cancellara vs Boonen, and looks to be the next matchup for the ages! Race Summary Video
Then we jump to Italy and the rides that made the race. Filipo Gana crushing 58KMH in the opening TT! Then backing it up in the stage 14 TT – but really, it’s the win on Stage 5 – attacking from the break, over the last climb, that leaves you stunned! How does he do that? The guy is huge and yet he crushed ’em all that day!
Tao Geogan Hart has long been considered a star in the making, receiving huge accolades as far back as his Axeon Hagens Berman days, but to see him rise to the occasion in Italy was pretty cool! “But XY and Z weren’t there” says the argument. Bollocks, that was brutal racing day after day. To survive and thrive on the talents that he has, to come out and win not just the day, but the 21 days, was impressive. Jai Hindley was impressive as well….I mean the depth of talent on display, wow!
We fast forward, well not really, it was just a few days actually, to the Vuelta and once again quality racing was on offer at almost every turn, much of it at the hands of the young guys! Davide Gaudu, all of 24 years old, on Stage 17 (his 2nd stage win) – man, that kid can climb! Or what about Richard Carapaz’ final charge to try and steal the win from Roglic? It’s hard to believe that he and Hugh Carthy are only 27 and 26 years old respectively – Carapaz already a Grand Tour winner!
I could go on and on, but….Whew, that’s a lot of race action for, basically, three months! Truly a once in a lifetime kind of year, at least we hope so (wear your masks!)…
Juniors and U23 riders ARE the future of the sport. This is most clearly in evidence as we peruse the results of World Tour races from this season. Rider after rider under the age of 25 keeps knocking it out of the park!
I want to help young riders get their development on track and am offering a pilot program to support up to 10 Junior and U23 riders with a heavily discounted coaching program for the coming season. Commitment, diversity, and financial need are cornerstones of the program and athletes from varied backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Applications will be taken via email through December 20th, with final selection slated to be announced on December 26th. Interested riders, parents and friends are encouraged to download the application form HERE and send it along. The program costs $100/mo, a substantial discount from regular coaching programs. There are several **Full Ride** scholarships available as well…so don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Ultimately, we hope to continue the traditions of the USA Cycling Talent Identification Camps and put together a team for the 2021 Junior Tour of Ireland – likely the best run and most fun Junior stage race in the World.
November came quick! The run to Thanksgiving and Christmas will likley come quicker! These weeks are ususally condensed as much by “things to do” as by the marketing and hype machines that push ever earlier for our expected embrace of the giving season.
This one is probably gonna be different. Doesn’t have to mean bad, just different. With COVID’s rapid return to a long discussed winter surge the desire to just push it all away, to be done with 2020 and it’s maladies, grows stronger at each intrusion and yet we must embrace the challenge to be our best representatives of our community, our country, and our species by making good choices that serve well being.
Fortunately, even with a concerted effort at doing good ,there is still plenty of ways to engage with the fun as well! To get started on the path, let’s outline some approaches, maybe one of ’em will resonate…
Pick Up A Pre- Holiday Challenge! I have athletes taking on any number of “fun” fall projects like a 300W avg power century, a solo version of the Belgian Waffle Ride, various climbing challenges, and of course some Zwift racing too!
Focus! Pick something you are not particularly good at. Fast pedaling, slow pedaling, long rides, high IF training rides, anaerobic development, aerobic development – whatever it is, pick it and give it 6 weeks of attention! Maybe you want to ride all the roads in Zwift? Great, six weeks sounds ambitious, but a great project if you’re focused and have the time! Don’t pick something outlandish and well beyong your time, attention, of prowess – it’s not a “born to fail” knda challenge!
Let someone else focus for you! Pre built training plans get a bit of a hard time! I know, I’m often on the doling out side – but pre built training plans ARE great for getting you out of the rut of self coached training. Most coaches are like me, always ready to mix something new into the program in the quest for an epiphany. I can say that each program available in the store is a labor of love and critical thinking. There is not one Base 1 program, there are myriad Base 1 programs – where we make the goals is teh embrace of the work that gets us there.
June 1st has been quite a day lots of times. From visiting with deer to visiting thin air, i’ve had some fun on June number one. This year was no different – and spontaneous to boot.
I’d ridden quite a bit the day before, so the idea of another big up wasn’t my starting point, but I also wanted to do something to honor June 1st. That meant Montebello for a first pass at a full 3peat. I’ve done variations on 3peat to the school for over a decade, but not the full climb. As I’m slow you gotta figure 40-45 minutes per up, so it takes a while.
Anyway, I ended up doing it and felt pretty good. The last lap included some spectacular fruit and a surprise cold beer part way up from a great friend.
The hot is coming off and on, so it could be great fun the next few weeks. What sort of adventures can you come up with? Still working up what projects to do over the next 3 months. I haven’t ridden 200mi yet. I have a couple of projects in the Works, but don’t wanna give too much away…
Goals are important, I’m sure I’ve said it to every rider I’ve ever coached. Personally though, I’ve lacked any definitive ones save “riding my bike” since I crashed Nov 9th and spent 6 or 7 weeks off the bike. Ok, that’s maybe a bit of an overstatement…Initially my goal was to be riding by January first. Made that. Next up was to climb Montbello road, then to climb it under 40min, both of which I’ve done.
Today I tackled my 3rd ever Alpe du Zwift climb. As I rode I watched Vegan Cyclists’ video on climbing Mauna Kea and it helped drive me up the AdZ a bit harder. Part way up I decided to invent the Five for Twenty Challenge – 5.0W/Kg for 20min. I gotta say, this one is a stretch goal for me, since the advent of power meters I’ve not been at 5W/Kg that I know of. I’m almost always at 75Kg’ish, so I know it’s about 375W effort for 20min. My power file ‘best’ is 361W for 20min, though I’ve gone better. How do I know?
This is my 20min file where I hit the 361W/364Wnorm. It was on Montebello and I know where I ended up (hey, good excuse to pop a favorite pic in!). I was doing an intentional 20min and hit the button just before the crux what I call the upper switchback at 3.4miles. Of course I didn’t have my Strava enabled head unit on at the time, just an old school power tap head unit.
The “better” effort was a few years later in prep for the Taiwan KOM. The Low Key Hill Climb series was set to climb Montebello, so I figured I’d give it a whirl – I’d never broken 30min for the full climb and REALLY wanted to! I rolled to the “start” area, waited for probably 10-15min (guess they take the “low key” part seriously) when myself and another guy decided we didn’t have time to wait around so we’d just go for it. He was a big guy – and super strong! We traded efforts on the way up notching a 2nd best ever climb to the school at 13:44 along the way! That continued the rest of the way up the climb -me mostly hanging on for dear life in the last 8min or so. In the end he beat me by maybe 100yds. I did a 31:51, seems so very far from 29:59 cause I went hard!
I know it was my highest power output b/c I hit 20min point at almost exactly the same point (see below) but I was lighter, closer to 160lbs at that time. Higher faster and lighter means better W/Kg right? Taking the 361W effort at the lighter weight of 73.6Kg jumps (haha, “jumps”) me to 4.90 W/Kg. Again, so close and yet so far!
I don’t have a formal plan yet, but I do like the idea…especially as a 50 year old! It also gives me pause to wonder how much I squandered my youth! In college I tested at 74ml/Kg/min – a pretty decent number, but I didn’t ever really follow a highly structured training plan…just sorta rode hard. I won’t go down the “what if” road too far, but it does provide a bit of fodder for the imagination and motivation for my old body!