Cross Country skiing weekend

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Cross Country skiing is one of the best cross training activities for cyclists and once past the initial learning curve is one of the most fun winter activities there is.

Next Sunday, January 8 instead of riding indoors at SMS we’ll be hosting Cross Country skiing at Highlands Nordic www.highlandsnordic.ca near Collingwood. There will be lessons by myself and possibly by local Paralympian skier Jerry King. We’re thinking of going directly to skating technique and will be covering the basics of that, along with waxing etc.

COST: For members of SMS Winter Training Program this is part of your package and cost is only if you need to rent skis. It seems that facility could have a package of half day rental with trail pass for around $50.
For non-members of SMS Winter Training Program there is additional $40.

If you’re interested, please let us know by email.

New Year, Fresh Start

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by Kevin Davis

Okay, you got hooked on being in super physical condition through cycling during the spring and summer.

To maintain your fitness at a level not too far below what you had, so that you don’t spend many prime good riding days getting back to a level of fitness approaching what you had before you’ll need to take some steps during the winter.

To use the winter months to build towards the spring again for riding and racing you’ll need to keep up with a certain level of activity. Usually, there is not the same requirement for a specific structure in training on a ‘workout to workout’ level at this time. Rather, we take more of a macro view of the training calendar with building of base, looking at overall body conditioning, and by a measured progressive build towards the start of the outdoor riding season.

Now is a good time to review the past year and to try to analyze where our strengths lay and where our weaknesses were. Now is the time to address those weaknesses, which may have been the only things that prevented you from taking your riding up a notch. Your coach will be able to look at the overall picture objectively and prepare a plan that takes all this into consideration, using a variety of training formats. Training may take many forms, such as indoor ‘trainer’ riding, roller riding, weight or circuit training, running or maybe even cross country skiing.

iCoachCycling is hosting indoor training this winter at SMS at 150 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, 5th floor, where the focus is on a progressive build towards the coming season. Stop by and try it out, sessions are led by either myself (Kevin) or Ilija. We’re there Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 8AM

“Blinders Off” Period and “Memento mori”

As a cycling coach, I have adopted the practical method of coaching through Sports periodization, training system developed by the Soviets and fathered by Tudor Bompa.
Reasons for my adaptation of periodization are more personal then for most coaches in the environment I coach, and one of those reasons is that I was brought up to conduct my life in similar fashion: assess the big picture, segregate, prioritize, execute (last has nothing to do with the Soviets).
All together creates periodization. Train, work, live that way….

Physical training is straight forward and easy to measure progress, but in life, specially in mental fitness aspect, growth requires honest self-evaluation. By using the word “honest” I could go on and on, but one fundamental starting point is taking time to spend with your self in order to do the evaluation (probably something I will be writing about on this blog a lot more then I care to admit even to my self, as part of my own self-evaluation). But I digress… .

Time…the precious commodity of today’s world, in North America specially.
More successful, less time for one-self. Less time for one-self, less self-evaluation. Less self-evaluation, less understanding of of one-self. And on in circle we go.

Stay with me…

What made me write this entry?
I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs (author Walter Isaacson). But more about it later.
In my periodization for cycling, which for me personally, as a full time cycling coach, also became way of life (or other way around: life embraced cycling? Can’t remember anymore.), current period November – January, represents “Blinders Off” Period.
No. You will not find it in Mr. Bompa’s periodization, but this period is about life periodization. Part of self-evaluation (this is where you may need to read the above again or if you attended “Night with Dr. Peter Jensen” you may understand better).
With cycling taking a lot of time from my clients during the rest of the year, “Blinders Off” Period allows time for working on their mental fitness. Mentally healthy person will perform 100% physically. Thus allowing me to get the best cycling performance out of my clients.

You probably asking: …what is this Mental Health, he’s keep going on about?
If I have to sum it up, I would say: this is when your mind builds ABSOLUTE CONVICTION about what you are about to decide and pursue, is THE BEST direction moving forward.
Armed with that conviction, your body will have no option but to follow.
When my clients ask me how to achieve absolute conviction, I try to guide them along, but at the end of the road is a solitary journey.
Solitary journey is the only way towards ZEN.
And due to his mental health (or lack thereof) something that reading about Steve Jobs and his journey through life made me realize HOW IMPORTANT the “Blinders Off” Period is!
In the chase of the future, he seems to forgotten how he achieved his Zen as a young person. It would be the reversed example of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin S. Sharma.

The book is full of examples where Steve Jobs is trying to fight the “rat race” mentality, but when you’re dealing with people and money who depend on your actions, it’s difficult to find time for self-examanition.
And by his own admission, it may have cost him his life (or at least few years). It seems that his mind and body lost the communication. Or perhaps his brilliant mind thought it didn’t need the body? It was wrong.

I will leave this subject for now, with a legend that is mentioned in this book referring to Memento mori“, a Latin phrase translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die”:
“In ancient Rome, the words are believed to have been used on the occasions when a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph. Standing behind the victorious general was his slave, who was tasked to remind the general that, though his highness was at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall or, more likely, be brought down. The servant conveyed this by telling the general that he should remember, “Memento mori.” It is further possible that the servant said instead, “Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!”: “Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you’ll die!”

Death, as a final act, is the most powerful “argument” in the arsenal for creating ABSOLUTE CONVICTION why physical health is more important then fame, money, carrier…
Mistakes in life are learning experiences, which is positive in the scope of full life.
OUR OWN untimely death, is the only “mistake” WE CAN’T learn from.
Death is one thing we must learn from other people’s mistake.

I hope with all of the above, to put you in a frame of mind, where in the coming holiday days, you take the Blinders off and work on your Mental Health.
Reading the books mentioned above is a good start.
Being thankful, helps acknowledge the importance of today.
Working on your mental health will pave the (cycling) road towards better performance.
Taking time for your self-evaluation, is investment, not a lost time… and what better period to start then in the Season of giving?

2011 Colnago Gran Fondo – Miami Edition


By Kevin Davis

Sunday November 20th 7AM. If you were at the corner of Miracle Mile and Coral way in the Coral Gables near Miami Florida USA, you would have encountered a group of 5 Canadians wearing green, in the rain and the emerging daylight. They were feverishly preparing to get to the start line, along with 1300 other similar souls, of the Colnago Gran Fondo Miami.

There, the large crowds were getting excited as the Leading Ferrari cars started their roaring engines, the music blasted, and the commentators got all the participants raring to go. The celebrity guest riders were introduced at the front of the pack just before the ‘off’. There was 2009 World F1 champion Jensen Button, 2 time Giro d’ Italia winner Gilberto Simoni, former Marco Pantani ‘domestique’ and also a former Giro winner Stefano Garzelli. To top it off, Olympic gold medalist, 1997 Tour de France winner and living legend of the sport of bike racing, from the former ‘East’ Germany Jan Ullrich.

The rain held off for the first part of the event, which was a good thing indeed, as we had a ‘century’ to cover, an American century that is, meaning a 100 miles. The riders headed South with the wind at their backs as they took a meandering scenic route towards the town of Homestead, almost at the famous Florida ‘Everglades’. Most of the participants were able to stay within the huge leading pack as the pace held at roughly 36 Km/h, which, if you’ve ever ridden in a large ‘peloton’ of cyclists on flat roads on a Carbon and titanium road racing bike and with a fairly brisk tail wind, you’ll know is quite an easy and pleasant pace to achieve.

And then the real fun started in the cross-winds. Followers of the sport of bike racing will have vivid images in their minds of past early season ‘Classics’ such as the Belgian ‘Liege-Bastogne-Liege’ race. In that event the racers always form groups, or ‘echolons’ as they’re known, working together to combat the spring winds blowing across the wide exposed roads, a struggle to get into the leading echolon ensues, which invariably is made up of the best and toughest riders on the road that day, as they start to pull away from the echelons behind them.

Well, there was somewhat of a Miami version of a Liege-Bastogne-Liege race that morning of the  Gran Fondo, with the event ‘blowing apart’ and many riders losing sight of the front group. The participants then headed back North towards Miami and had to deal with mostly headwinds. The pace remained high, although nearing the city with the police escorts and Ferrari lead cars having disappeared, it was necessary to take precautions amongst traffic and at intersections. The event was, after all, billed as a social ride and not as a regular race where one would not expect to have to negotiate intersections normally and heeding traffic lights. The irony is that whenever you pin numbers onto so many competitive people, line them up and say “GO”, then you’re going to get a race of some sorts, which is why so many negotiated intersections with traffic as quickly as they could.

Many were also able to take great satisfaction in having been able to make it quite a distance after the hammer had dropped. There aren’t many amateur cyclists that can tell the tale of having mixed it up with Tour de France and Giro d’ Italia winners. Eddie Reinish, Chad Leudtke, and Steve Colomby were 3 of our group that made it a long way past the start of the cross-wind sections with the front groups, while the ‘race hardened’ duo of Ilija Petrovski and Kevin Davis made it to the finish with the front group, which by that time had been whittled down to around 10 cyclists.

At the finish area our group took full advantage of the refreshments that were of an Italian influence while sharing all of our ‘tales of the big ring’. We noted that most of the celebrity contingent had cut the route slightly short so that they could get a bit of a head-start on said refreshments. We took advantage of the time to get a group shot of ourselves with Jan Ullrich who was kept busy for 2 or 3 hours posing for photographs with fans.

A great finish to a great day, and a confirmation that a 3 or 4 day trip with good friends, sharing an exhilarating and healthy pastime is one of the best times you can have.

Below is video of working in the early breakaway (green NAC jersey’s):
Jan Ullrich #1
Ilija Petrovski #22
Kevin Davis #20
working in the early breakaway (green NAC jersey’s).

2011 Annual Fall Ride

This past Sunday 21 keen Toronto area cyclists got together for a ride through rural Ontario on what turned out to be one of the best days of the year for a bike ride.

The group was made up of the team members of NACSWORLD. COM Master 1 team and clients and friends of iCoachCycling. Starting from the one of our favourite caffeinated beverage establishments on Elgin Mills road near Leslie street we set off North on Leslie, passing Van Dorf side road and brushing by the town of Aurora before making it to St Johns side road where we headed East. This part of the Province is particularly beautiful at this time of the year and especially so in the early part of the morning as rode along tree lined roads with the early morning sun casting long shadows across the road. We continued to Warden avenue where we turned North and headed up and turned North East cutting across almost to the village of Baldwin, at which point we headed South to join up with Queensville side road then East again before heading south near to Zephyr. Then we enjoyed some spirited riding on the short but steep rolling climbs all the way to one of our favourite regular watering holes at Goodwood. From there it was the shortest route back to our starting point passing through the town of Stoufville and along 19th avenue.

We rode a total of 110km (CLICK HERE for route) which is a good distance for this time of year, mostly at a very reasonable ‘steady’ pace riding in twos very socially and orderly. I for one was very pleased, observing some of the less experienced riders who nonetheless are quite strong that they were able to modulate their effort while riding at the front to match to the pace that less fast riding partners were able to maintain. All part of the ‘subtlety’ of becoming a good cyclist. I hope that as time goes on, all the cyclists that come to iCoachCycling will grow in their refinement and confidence. Confidence that comes from being aware of everything and everyone around them. Confidence that they made the right choices when it comes to equipment, routes, pace, safety, training, race and ride preparation, and confidence that they can ride in the group in all formations and in all conditions in control and with full regard for their ride mates.
This past Sundays ride was a perfect opportunity for us to work towards these goals, which we capitalized upon perfectly.

Thank you.
Kevin Davis

P.S. If you wish to take part in our future rides, email us at icoachcycling@me.com

Cycling “the new golf”? Nope. Better!

According to Jeremy Adams, a psychologist who specialises in sport and performance psychology, who on smh.com.au said:
…many men drop the exercise habit in their 40s and 50s as work and families take priority. “But it’s important to keep those exercise patterns going,” he said. “Because if you don’t, there is every chance that by the time you get to your 60s it will be too late.”

Therapy session

Below is the full article:

Forget the Ferrari, middle-aged men take group therapy for a spin

THE weather is warming and the army of MAMILs and their bikes is on the move.

Interest in cycling is at a high and nowhere is participation in the sport more intense than among men in their 40s and 50s, or Middle-Aged Men in Lycra as they are sometimes jokingly – or slightingly – called.

But it’s now clear the benefits of regular riding with mates go way beyond just keeping physically fit, allowing participants also to tap into the sort of social support network psychologists say is essential to good mental health. In fact, while cycling has long been labelled “the new golf”, increasingly it is also winning a reputation as “the new men’s shed”.

“It’s like sharing a locker room,” Omar Khalifa, the chief executive of Bicycle NSW, and a keen early-morning “bunch” rider, said. “You share your aches and pains and what has happened to you during the week and some people will get off their chest issues they might have had at home with the kids or at work.

“It’s quite a therapy session. I would probably never have those same discussions with those people if I was sitting down at dinner or in the pub but on a bicycle there is the strangeness of being in a bubble that allows you somehow to discuss these things more openly.

“It’s very therapeutic and a safe conversation. But we all know that what goes on on the ride stays on the ride.”

These are boom times for cycling. In the past five years, club membership in NSW has rocketed more than 70 per cent to more than 7000.

And in the past year alone, the number of local bicycle user groups around the state, each of which can have more than 700 members, has doubled to reach 44. The lure for middle-aged men can be explained in part by the sport’s low impact. Unlike running or games such as soccer, it is much kinder to ageing knees and ankles. It’s also relatively inexpensive – at least when compared with acquiring the traditional midlife sports car.

Jim Buda,an architect and the president of the Manly Warringah Cycling Club, has been riding “seriously” for the past 14 years.

“It’s an obsession now,” he confesses. “I’m amazed at how obsessive people can become and I’m no exception. There are so many aspects to it – there is the competitive aspect, the health aspect and then there is the sheer pleasure of riding. It’s really hard to pin down.”

Mr Buda puts a lot of value on the social aspect of the club’s regular training rides around the northern beaches. “It’s amazing how many tight little groups form between riders who have these common interests,” he said. “The social side of it is really significant.”

Jeremy Adams, a psychologist who specialises in sport and performance psychology, said many men drop the exercise habit in their 40s and 50s as work and families take priority.

“But it’s important to keep those exercise patterns going,” he said. “Because if you don’t, there is every chance that by the time you get to your 60s it will be too late.”

 

Fall in Southern Ontario – take a day off!

Having cycled in few places around the World, at this time of the year, my favored ride is just outside my house.

Today, I locked the door, got on my bike and went out in the hope of having my annual “long shadow” ride.
Didn’t get THE long shadows today, needed to stay out past 4pm to get more of the Sun today. But, got THE RIDE for Fall of 2012.
Had to stop and take a picture of the surroundings (above).

Long Shadows of Late Fall, 2009

The colours are changing, and the sun is trying to peak through the clouds the air is crisp and I didn’t miss any rides anywhere else.

Fall is here and these are the roads I want to be on.

Dear Ontario rider, here is my advice as a coach and cyclist: get a SUNNY DAY, OFF of work during the week. Pack your bike and drive just outside the city to the first coffee shop.
Have your morning coffee and get on your bike. Pace your self so that you can last for 4-5 hours. Stop a couple times in towns that you usually don’t visit.
Look around and soak it all in. THIS IS what life is all about: a string of small moments and memories. Make them happen.

Ontario nature, in all it’s beauty, will wait for you for about 2-3 weeks from today.
Don’t worry. So will your life, after the ride.

The ROUTE is around 110km from Pickering, ON, but you could start from Stouffville’s “For the Love of Joe” coffee shop (right across the clock tower) and shorten it down to around 70km. You will see Musselman’s Lake. You will go through Zephyr. And you will LOVE IT.

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