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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reflecting on the last few years I think it is interesting that my back injury indirectly helped my riding and ultimately my training/racing. While doing massive PT I learned what true core and back stability meant and how important it is to my riding. My bike fit changed as a result and I now sit completely differently which affects how I apply power to the pedals. I also experimented with nutrition and was surprised how much I leaned out. The result is pretty much the ability to load as much as I used to and recover better.

What has helped you become better? Maybe it's tactics, nutrition, equipement or simply riding more frequently. Whatever it is post it up!
 

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Well ... the biggest thing was losing 100'ish pounds ... beyond that:

1. Riding with other fast cyclists, especially those faster than me. This made me work harder and push my limits as a cyclist
2. Racing in general ... the more you race, the more you learn and the better your tactics become. I've learned how to become a break away specialist in road races.
3. Learning what real pain was and how to push through it ... TT's are excellent for this as are hard group rides and road races.
4. Riding both a MTB and a motorcycle for handling and cornering skills ... I don't freak out when my bike starts to slide in a corner or in a muddy section and I handle very high speed turns without issues (40 - 50 mph sweepers on downhills).

Most of all ... Lots and lots of riding, around 10,000 miles per year :)
 

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Actually doing training for specific race types instead of just throwing down pointless miles. Wookie nailed it with #2 and #3:

Racing really is the best way to get better at it- I went from being lapped in crits to getting a second place and a few top tens (without any real training other than just doing races).
Build up the pain threshold- soloing on a breakaway or trying to catch on the pack after a flat can teach you a lot about suffering and how far you're willing to go with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
100 pounds! I can't imagine how amazing the difference must feel? I have a couple buddies that are larger but have lost a bit of weight. One thing that they seem to have in common is large weight changes between in and out of season riding weight. I get pissed with 5 pounds. lol
 

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I would echo what others have said:

1. Riding with other fast cyclists, especially those faster than me. This made me work harder and push my limits as a cyclist - Most important for me

2. Racing in general ... the more you race, the more you learn and the better your tactics become. - Absolutely!

3. Learning what real pain was and how to push through it ... TT's are excellent for this as are hard group rides and road races. - I have not learned this yet, but I'm working on it.

4. Riding a MTB for handling and cornering skills - I already raced mountain bikes when I started road racing, people were surprised by my riding skills when I first started road racing. I has been mostly attributed to my comfort on a MTB. If you can take a sharp, off-camber turn on the dirt, one on the road is easy.

5. Actually doing training for specific race types instead of just throwing down pointless miles. - This has helped most in recent years, as I've become more serious about racing.

6. Talking with more experienced racers about situations that developed during a race. - When a race situation develops and I don't believe I responded well, I ask some local Cat1/2 guys what I did wrong. While they were not there, they can still provide some insight into better was to address the situation.
 

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In no particular order:
Friel based training plan
Power meter
Specialized BG fit (so I could ride more efficiently and without various aches and pains)
High end cycling clothing (feels way better as the distances increase)
Riding with faster riders
Interpreting numbers from hammer fests and races to set goal numbers for training
Lots of riding in general
PLENTY OF SLEEP.
 

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As you have found Woody, physiotherapy made me into a better rider too. I've been going regularly for three years for chronic back issues that have affected my cycling for decades. Instead of the usual forum advice :rolleyes: of "sit more upright and get a shorter stem" I was instructed to lower my stem and lengthen it from 100mm to 130. This was done after much testing and video recording. Balancing of side-to-side strength and body alignment issues were addressed, treated and cured with a plethora of gentle (and not so gentle) core & mobility exercises.

The other forum advice pearl of "stretch your hamstrings" was blown out of the water by my PT. Mine are (and always have been) chronically tight (compared to most people's opinion of how long they should be) but according to her they were plenty long enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As you have found Woody, physiotherapy made me into a better rider too. I've been going regularly for three years for chronic back issues that have affected my cycling for decades. Instead of the usual forum advice :rolleyes: of "sit more upright and get a shorter stem" I was instructed to lower my stem and lengthen it from 100mm to 130. This was done after much testing and video recording. Balancing of side-to-side strength and body alignment issues were addressed, treated and cured with a plethora of gentle (and not so gentle) core & mobility exercises.

The other forum advice pearl of "stretch your hamstrings" was blown out of the water by my PT. Mine are (and always have been) chronically tight (compared to most people's opinion of how long they should be) but according to her they were plenty long enough.
For sure. Stretching has become routine for me as well. Injury prevention has become as large of a goal as any other in my life.
 

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-By far and away it's riding with other more experienced cyclist. Not necessarily ones faster than me either but ones that knew what they were doing especially with regard to pacing and knowing when to nail it and when to back off. Because I played so much hockey prior to cycling my fitness was way ahead of my having any sort of clue about pacing and any of the finer points of cycling. Watching and listening helped me with that big time.

-I can relate to an injury helping. At one point I had a bit of knee pain from sprinting in the cold unwarmed up (aka being stupid) that lingered. I rode through the healing process and noticed that higher cadence helped minimize the knee pain. Then I figured if I could protect my knee with higher cadance it should save my muscles too. So I started working on higher cadance and it really helped keep my legs stay fresh(er) deeper into rides.

-Core workouts definitely helped too. I don't think they do much for my racing because the races generally aren't long enough to need the extra strength but for those really long tough rides where previously my body would start feeling like a jelly fish I still feel pretty well conected with a stronger core.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
-By far and away it's riding with other more experienced cyclist. Not necessarily ones faster than me either but ones that knew what they were doing especially with regard to pacing and knowing when to nail it and when to back off. Because I played so much hockey prior to cycling my fitness was way ahead of my having any sort of clue about pacing and any of the finer points of cycling. Watching and listening helped me with that big time.

-I can relate to an injury helping. At one point I had a bit of knee pain from sprinting in the cold unwarmed up (aka being stupid) that lingered. I rode through the healing process and noticed that higher cadence helped minimize the knee pain. Then I figured if I could protect my knee with higher cadance it should save my muscles too. So I started working on higher cadance and it really helped keep my legs stay fresh(er) deeper into rides.

-Core workouts definitely helped too. I don't think they do much for my racing because the races generally aren't long enough to need the extra strength but for those really long tough rides where previously my body would start feeling like a jelly fish I still feel pretty well conected with a stronger core.
Yeah I don't think my new found core strength equates to "X" more watts to the pedals but rather, it allows (me) to load more. Coupled with proper rest I'm able to continue loading more than with a weak core. And for me it's injury prevention first and foremost...
 

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Others have said some good ones. Mostly ride more, race more.

Specifically though, understanding how I can use positioning in races to my advantage helped immensely. Sprinter della Casa: Tactics - The Sphere and Three Scenarios
Also, getting a powermeter and cranking out those 'ish' miles really bumped my fitness.
^^ This! Sprinter della Casa is why I started "thinking" in criteriums. I would assess each move and think about what I should and should not do, as well as learning general good racing tactics.
 

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Yeah I don't think my new found core strength equates to "X" more watts to the pedals but rather, it allows (me) to load more. Coupled with proper rest I'm able to continue loading more than with a weak core. And for me it's injury prevention first and foremost...
Right. I should have been more descriptive with my point. Although core strength is a part of it what I was really refering to was the increased 'stamina' that resulted from working the core not just the strength. This, I feel doesn't do much 'during' the race but I shouldn't have said it doesn't help me with racing because it most certainly makes my preparation (training) more effective.
 

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100 pounds! I can't imagine how amazing the difference must feel? I have a couple buddies that are larger but have lost a bit of weight. One thing that they seem to have in common is large weight changes between in and out of season riding weight. I get pissed with 5 pounds. lol
It's funny how much you complain when you are heavy, but never do anything about it. I used to complain about seats being too small (especially in cars), having to walk, having to find XXXL or XXXXL clothing and complain when nobody carried it, not being able to tie my shoes unless my foot was propped up on a table, etc.

Now that I've lost the weight ... it's not an issue :)

I also fight the winter time weight battle ... it's not unusual for me o put 25 - 30 pounds on between the end of my season and January ... then drop it off for the next race season starting in January. This year I did a lot better not eating so crappy and putting in lots of base miles and I only went up 15 pounds, in part due to an injury that kept me off the bike for 2 weeks and away from hard riding for almost 4 ... that alone put 10 pounds on me.

All in all though ... on the bike, dropping the weight makes a "HUGE" difference ... even the 25-30 pounds of off season weight changes my climbing ability by leaps and bounds ... though with a race weight around 190 pounds, I still struggle in the hills compared to the 150 pound climbers :mad2:
 

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Employing a coach
+1. When you hire a coach, you learn a lot about the specifics of training, that the books don't really cover.

I've done a couple of seasons (one season with road emphasis, another with MTB racing emphasis) and now am a much better self coach.

I think the most important thing I learned was how to vary training intensity: endurance riding, versus intervals (long and short), versus speed/sprint work. They are all pretty unique and provide unique development that is important to race success.

I also learned the pacing required to complete good hours on the bike, which leads to other physiological benefits.

There's more to training than riding "hard Tempo" every single ride, which was a mistake I did for years.
 

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1. Loosing over 135 lbs
2. Having a loving wife that allows me to spend the time/money training and racing.
3. Having a supportive family that understands my goals and cheer me on
4. Having a Pro coach/trainer to keep my head focused on progressing forward in my skills and cycling
5. Having the drive to constantly try harder and keep my head in the game
6. My doctor for granting me permission to keep pushing forward even with major lung issues
7. Teammates for being there to push more harder during times I am down, depressed or just not feeling it!
 
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