Group rides are dead. Unpopular opinion number one. Even in ostensibly safe scenarios, group rides are dangerous. Rides are too big; riders are too brash; vehicles are too numerous, and drivers are too distracted.
Other potentially unpopular opinions of Colby’s are related to indoor riding. He outlines some of the pros and cons of Zwifting, including the benefits of riding with extremely controlled and focused training, as well as increased blood volume versus the compounding effects of poor posture that the monotony of riding inside can foster.
Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and right relationship to your life.
Colby Pearce 00:25
Greetings and salutations, listeners, seekers of knowledge, information over standing. And all the things today is going to be a somewhat brief, solo sewed, want to talk about a few things that have been bouncing around in my mind movies for a while. And hopefully you’ll find my discourse of value. We’ll call this episode, unpopular opinions and controversial thoughts. The first thing I want to talk about is group rides. And I want to frame my opinion on this carefully so that you understand my perspective. And that is I’ve been a cyclist for 35 years on the Front Range. That’s Boulder, Colorado, we call the Front Range in case you don’t know because we’re basically right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. So if you go west, you go up for about 40 or 50 K. And if you ride east, you ride towards Kansas, and it’s basically flat. If you ride north or south, you kind of skirt the edge and get all kinds of little elevation gains and geographical challenges.
Colby Pearce 01:55
growing up and riding here, I’ve seen the roads change. And just like most places in the world, and in the US, certainly, we’ve seen the ratio of cars to bikes change dramatically. And in that evolution, there’s been a dip in several chapters, I’ll say, in particular with our local roads. When I was 15 1617, there were several roads, I used to ride with great regularity. And then by the time I was 22, or 23. These roads were unraidable. There were too many cars and too many bikes on them. And some of you may listen to this part and wonder what the heck I’m talking about because you live in an area where there are less cyclists but Saturdays and Sundays on the front range on a nice day. You see cyclists everywhere, the roads are completely filled with groups of all sizes, ones and twos, fives and 10s and sometimes 20s 30s 40s 50s. It’s kind of a shotgun blast of bike riders and lycra. And we might think this is a good thing. Because we like to think that when people do the things that we like, that means more people are sharing the joy that we’re sharing, and that’s a reasonable sentiment. But there’s a critical mass where that becomes very problematic. Obviously. There are huge group rides that happen regularly in Colorado, California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona and Tucson, there’s the shootout, that group ride regularly hits 100 people. And there’s several challenges with this model of group rides. Or this it’s not even a model because it’s just an organic thing that happens.
Colby Pearce 03:57
when riders get into a large group, more than about 20 riders, I think is sort of the critical threshold. In my experience, people tend to think riders tend to think that they are in a peloton. And that that living organic being that paramecium of lycra and wheels and carbon fiber going down the road sort of becomes a vehicle. And to a certain degree, that’s true. But that vehicle is not traveling at the speed of traffic on most roads. Depends obviously on the situation. But more often than not, you’re traveling less quickly than cars are. And when you’re taking up half the lane or the entire lane, then it becomes an imposition to cars. And this is really the point that I want to get to that spawned this entire line of thought. for 35 years I’ve heard people bitching complain about cyclists. And look, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. Here. We are our own worst enemy. There’s no question if you can’t see that You’re blinding yourself with your own tribalistic thinking. We’re not doing ourselves any favors when we do things like run stoplights and run stop signs and flip off drivers when they honk at us and ride 234, abreast all the time. And take liberties. A bicycle is a device that gives us a lot of freedom by definition, but in my experience, most cyclists tend to abuse that freedom. What do I mean by all this? A bike gives you the freedom to go any speed you want. In a car, you’re bound by speed limits. If you’re in a 30 zone, you’ve got to go 30. But on a bike, you can go as fast as you want. Even in a 30 mile an hour zone on a downhill, cyclists will go 40 or 50. Every once in a while you hear about people getting tickets. There’s no such thing as a traffic jam, really in a bike. While you’re riding a bike unless you’re in a short track race or a cyclocross racing, you run into the peloton of riders in front of you going into an obstacle. So we we have these freedoms that we enjoy while we’re riding a bike, the sensation of the wind on your face, you’re not riding around in an air conditioned box. You see where I’m going? those freedoms can become problematic when we abuse them. When we roll through stop signs, when we cross several lanes of traffic just because there’s a gap. And you may think this is fundamentally a victimless crime. But it’s not. Because Let me explain why. Whenever you do anything, make any choice in your life that brings people together and brings cohesion, brotherhood sisterhood fraternity sorority, whenever you include other people. This is a choice that expands and builds trust. Whenever you make a choice that divides, or separates, or categorizes. This is a choice that reduces energy and builds distrust. It builds barriers. And when you choose to cross a major four lane road on your bike, running a red light is zipping between traffic to the point where you’re quite certain you can shoot the gap comfortably. But there’s attention because you know that the drivers who are driving cars aren’t sure you can suit that gap comfortably. Maybe because you’re a super sprint ECB criterium rider, and you’re just gonna peg the gap. And you make everyone hit the brakes, or at least hesitate and consider what you’re doing. You are dividing your you are choosing an act that divides that furthers the gap between the understanding that a driver has or the sympathy the driver has for what you’re trying to do on a bike. For all your life choices for all your times, you’re going to put on those funny looking pants and go ride your bike for 80 miles to go to some mountain town. You are increasing the distance between their understanding or or at least sympathy for that activity. By doing these things that are ostensibly victimless crimes, meaning you chose to broke the break the law, but it didn’t hurt anyone. You just decided because you had the freedom to zip across this road that you would.
Colby Pearce 08:42
And I see this choice being made all the time by cyclists. And look, I’m not trying to paint myself on some high horse here. I’ve been in the sport 35 years, I have done this hundreds of times myself. But somewhere around a decade ago, I realized that that not serve my relationship with other people. Also, I recognize that I am an ambassador for the sport of cycling. I don’t mean that in some grand way to give myself a title. Everyone who rides a bike as an ambassador for your sport, you’re all representing cycling to people who are non cyclists. Or in an even more screwed up way. You’re representing cycling to other people who are cyclists. The most twisted outcome of this little dialog and these relationships is when you hear stories about people who are cyclists who run other cyclists off the road because they have road rage. That makes no sense at all. But that’s exactly what I’m talking about is the divisions we draw on our mind the artificial fences we make around groups of people. What is this fundamentally, this is tribalistic thinking. It is them very As us, it is divisive thinking instead of inclusive thinking. And when you really take a step back and consider all the ways that we draw boundaries in our heads around them versus us around what I do, and what I like and what he or she does, and what he or she likes, and the differences between those things. And the more separation we create, the easier it is to eventually make a decision that can cause really big problems in other people’s lives. The ultimate outcome of that is objectification of the other person. This is the method by which white supremacy and Nazi ism ultimately work. It’s the same line of thought, the more distance you make between what you do and what someone else does, the more of an object they become. They become a cyclist, and I am not a cyclist, I am a runner, or I am a driver, or I’m a crossfitter. Or maybe I’m just a sedentary human who thinks that exercise will wear down your lifelong battery. And therefore, I’m not going to engage in it because I want my battery to last as long as possible. So you idiots who go out there and ride your bikes all the time wearing those funny looking clothes. Well, I put you in this box of people, and I look upon that group of people as different from me. And different is a polite way to say less than.
Colby Pearce 11:43
when we engage in this type of thinking, we’re creating distance and this distance, causes problems and arguments and friction. And don’t we want to have less friction in our lives. Group rides are one of the single most divisive choices you can make, by definition, and here’s the change of change in line of thought that has really struck me in my own mental model in the last couple months. This was inspired, very more recently, when I read the article about how a guy was driving a box truck in Nevada, and he was on meth and he plowed into a group of riders and he killed I believe five cyclists injured the driver of the car, who was following the group and also injured several other cyclists. I might not be
Colby Pearce 12:42
up to speed on all the statistics as far as who died and who was injured. No disrespect intended there. But this was a tragic accident. And the the thing that really bothers me about this is that these people were, hypothetically they were doing it right. They had a group of 1010s of really good number to have a group ride. It’s big enough to where you can draft off of each other. You can have some group dynamics, you can do some, you can push each other on climbs, but recombine be late, you can ride to buy to where it’s safe, or even single file and not really be too disruptive to traffic. Because 10 riders riding single file, if a car has to pass you, they can get around a group that size in a reasonable amount of time, when you’ve got 40 or 50 riders riding single file, which almost never happens, let’s be realistic. That takes a car an average driver, I’m not talking someone who’s taken BMW racing school license lessons, I’m talking just your average american driver might take them 30 4060 seconds to figure out when they can pass this group accelerate, pull out into the other land talk in a two lane road and get around the group safely before oncoming traffic comes. And I see this all the time with big this is the problem of big groups is that drivers underestimate how long it takes them to pass a group they start to make the pass, they get halfway through and then oncoming traffic comes in, they have to make a choice. They’re gonna have a head on collision while they’re probably not going to choose that. So normally that means they they steer to the right back into the group and then the group is forced to split around the car and then we’re in this really dangerous precarious situation because we have an inexperienced driver driving in the middle of a split peloton. This is a disaster waiting to happen. This is dangerous in bike races when it happens. You never split the peloton is part of the caravan.
Colby Pearce 14:48
when this group ride happened and this accident happened with this box truck, we had 10 riders and that’s a good number of cyclists and they had a support car And in this instance, when they were hit, the group was actually split into five and five with a car in between them. Now, I’m not saying that group ride shouldn’t happen because people do meth meth is just methamphetamines is a nasty destructive drug that destroys your brain and rots your teeth and does all kinds of other things I don’t know about but it drives people to extreme behavior. In this case, it sounds like the driver had fallen asleep, but had a lot of meth in his blood. And that’s why he plowed through five riders and then hit the follow car, which I believe was a Subaru, and injured the driver. And then the super went into the second group of five, which was a head of the car. The thing that really bothers me about this ride, as I said, is that they were doing things, theoretically, right. Meaning the group was big, but not too big, was pretty manageable, and they had a fall car, which ostensibly gives you a some amount of safety. Now, this is a freak accident. And I understand that this isn’t indicative of what can happen all the time. It’s, we have to accept that in life, we take some risk and that freak accidents happen.
Colby Pearce 16:08
this does illustrate a bigger problem. And for the first time ever, when I read some of the comments about this accident, in one of the forums I was reading, someone made the point that has been made countless times in other forums. And in other arguments, and and other newspaper articles and op eds, in different magazines. And this opinion is that fundamentally, roads are an infrastructure built for cars, and that bikes have no place on that infrastructure. And after 35 years in the sport, and 15 years as a professional, and almost 20 years as a coach and a decade as a fitter. This is the first time ever that I changed my tune and agreed. And the moment I had the change my mind was when I read that article, and it occurred to me that in 2020, we have so many cars on the road. And yeah, we like we all like to blame it on distracted drivers and people who are texting. And of course that happens. And I’m sure there are cyclists who have been hit and killed because of distracted drivers. But that’s not really the issue. The issue is that the infrastructure of Roads is made to handle cars. And that infrastructure because of the raw population of the planet in most places, is being taxed by the number of vehicles. And we’ve added more cyclists than ever. It’s just it’s a plumbing problem. We have too much water in the pipes. And cars travel faster than bikes most of the time, not always. For the first time ever, I sort of thought about that problem from a different perspective, which was that we all model our training, and our ideals of what cycling should be based on sport at the highest end. What does that mean? It means the Tour de France. And this is a false model for our training. Because in case you didn’t know, the roads are completely closed in the Tour de France, and in all other professional bike races. And while road racing is dying in the United States, road stage races and road true road races are harder and harder to find they’re they’re a velociraptor. They’re not well, they’re not completely extinct, but they’re getting there. I hate to say it.
Colby Pearce 18:55
so when we are training. This is the truth that came to me in this moment of insight. It doesn’t make any sense for us to train in any way that resembles competition. Because as soon as we try to do that, as soon as we try to ride on roads, as though we were road racing, we’re putting ourselves at a ridiculous amount of risk. And I love cycling as much as anybody I’ve proclaimed many times already in this podcast that I’m the world’s biggest bike dork, which am I’m maybe I’m not some flashy, so we’ll go with it. But the fact is that I have almost no desire to ride my road bike on many of these roads that I’ve ridden for three and a half decades in Colorado, because it’s just an unpleasant experience. Why would I want to be passed by cars constantly for four or five hours and if I’m being passed by cars constantly for that duration The chances of one of those cars making a slight mistake and clipping my handlebars or making a big mistake and being on meth and plowing into me, they just go up, especially when you add up the number of days a year that I ride, which is far less than it used to be, but it’s still not trivial. We have several group rides that are mainstays here in Boulder. And I apologize for those of you who don’t give a crap about my local group ride scenario. But I’ve got to use this as an illustration. There’s a highway, highway 36 that goes North out of Boulder, to a town called Lyons. And this highway is a two lane highway, one lane going north one lane going south, and it’s got a pretty fat bike lane on it. This is one of the roads that I used to ride all the time when I was 18, from Boulder clients. And about the second half of it had zero shoulder at that time, like none like white line and then dirt. So when you rode the whole way from pulling the lines, you were putting yourself basically had to ride in the roadway. You were putting yourself in vehicular harm, potentially. I mean, you always are to be clear, just because there’s a bike lane doesn’t mean you’re safe. But then about, I don’t know 15 years ago, they paved repave the road, the entire highway and they added a bike lane, they made the one they made the one that was existing fatter, and then they made the one that didn’t exist exist. And it’s a pretty healthy Blaine. It’s pretty much a breakdown lane. So we’re talking you can easily ride two abreast and still be well clear of the white line. Okay, cool. There’s also a group ride that happens that starts on that road. This ride is Tuesdays and Thursdays during summer daylight hours. Daylight Savings Time, I was getting confused whether daylight savings actually happens in the winter or the summer Anyway, when there’s enough light it starts on that week. And it goes all summer long. And this is the quintessential local group ride. We’re talking 20 to 50 riders typical turnout. We’re talking mostly white males who think they’re in a criterium. And we’re talking guys who want to rip each other’s legs off on the flats and have a fast fun group ride. And when I was 18, this ride was a staple it was bread and butter for me to learn how to ride my bike to go get dropped on it every week in the first week I made it the whole ride I was my head was exploding. And so were my legs. And this was a critical piece of training for me at that age. And I use that ride for many years after that maybe another decade. But then there was a point when the ride didn’t stopped making sense for me. And it stopped feeling like a smart choice if there was a conflict in my soul when I was on this ride and the conflict was it just felt dangerous. And I watched too many people do stupid things. Now just to fully paint the picture, this highway from Boulder to Lyons is the only artery between those two roads and in case you also don’t know boulder is the real estate is off the charts here because the city of Boulder has bought purchased a layer of open space all around our city that kind of buffers, Denver, Longmont, Lewisville, Lafayette, lions and golden from encroaching into our city and making it an inland empire like la where there’s just a massive sea of costcos and Starbucks and shit, to be blunt. So that little boundary of open space that the city pays for well, that we pay for with our taxes drives up real estate prices. It also produces this weird paradigm where we have this happy layer of open space we get to go ride our cyclocross bikes in and walk our dogs in.
Colby Pearce 23:56
But it means that people who do manual labor can’t afford to live in our city. So we import our manual labor the people who mow our lawns and tile our bathrooms and clean our houses drive in every morning from Longmont or Lewisville or Lyons are Lafayette the L’s as we call them. And then at the end of day, they drive back out and that clogs those arteries with plumbing trucks, and people who do tiling and service and people who just want to come in to Boulder to do whatever they’re doing. So these arteries are extremely busy. So my point being if I was going to design the worst possible format for a group ride, if I was going to intentionally cause problems, I would get about 40 guys together. I would tell them that they’re going to do a fast group ride with a sprint finish. And I would send them north on highway 36 every Tuesday and every Thursday. At 5pm, it starts at five. I mean how knuckleheaded is this, and I would tell them that they can just go rocketing up this highway. And they make a loop they do some other things depends on the route and act like they’re in a peloton. And for about the first five or 10 minutes that ride, typically they ride more or less two by two. But then as soon as things get heated, people have to swing out into the lane to make an attack or go to the front or dropped to the back or whatever. And then the real problems start, it gets really interesting when there is a single rider who’s not part of this ride, who’s riding out highway 36. And they’ve left it for 45. And the group ride comes upon them, and they have to pass this rider, let alone a group of two. And we’re talking, you know, a 10 mile an hour difference. So suddenly, the entire group is in the lane of traffic during rush hour. And then someone’s attacking. This is why I stopped doing this ride. This is why everyone should stop doing this ride. This is why the city of Boulder has failed, because they have failed to provide us with this user group which is large, and is a taxpaying substantial taxpaying group with an outlet for this competitive drive. If you’re doing this ride, you’re just creating further division, you’re putting yourself at risk. It’s a poor choice, you’re acting, you are training as though you have a race. You’re training as though you are racing. And that is not. There’s no equanimity in that equation. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a selfish choice. It’s selfish to the drivers who are trying to get home, it’s selfish to your colleagues who are in the group ride with you. Because you’re putting everyone at risk by showing up. It’s selfish to your loved ones. Because if you get crushed by a box truck on highway 36, and die, your wife and kids are going to be super devastated. And for what a group ride. And I realized not everyone has the scenario. But most of us do have a local group ride. And most of us do have a group ride that fits these parameters or fits this description. Meaning really, you know, you shouldn’t be doing it. But you do it anyway, because we all want to ride in a group. And we all like to go fast. And we all like to pretend we’re in a race.
Colby Pearce 27:39
Sorry, this is a big soapbox. But I hope you appreciate where I’m coming from. And I think this argument is really important to dissect. We need to think critically about our choices as riders. And the infrastructure that was made for cars is not made to support group rides. It’s really not even made to support bicycles. What am I suggesting is the solution. Stop showing up to big group rides and make them smaller. Get six of your friends and go do a small ride, stay off of major arteries, ride more gravel doesn’t mean you have to go out buy a gravel bike necessarily. But just ride the minor ride the smallest roads you can. I instinctively made this choice. Maybe 15 years ago started riding straight up dirt climbs out my back door, just to avoid traffic, I weigh 36 now is a no fly zone. The only time I ride that highway is when it’s absolutely essential, meaning I got caught in a hailstorm or have a triple flat day or by catastrophe. And I’ve got to get home. Those are very rare for me. I wait. 36 is not a place for bikes. It’s a place for cars that go 55 miles an hour and have a breakdown lane. But every day, you see people riding out that highway just without without critically examining the route that they want to take. The problem is even worse when we have a group ride of 100 people. There’s just no happy solution to that. And just to briefly unpack that for you all i A few years ago, I was doing leading some rides that were intended to generate some buzz and get some exposure around the word event. And if you don’t know what an OTA is, you can check it out. It’s pronounced oat, and root. But the American pronunciation would be how to
Colby Pearce 29:41
it’s a super cool event series in Europe and they did have a couple years here in the US including two years in Colorado and that event was amazing. I got to see parts of my own state that I had never seen as a result. Really beautiful format. A great way to run group rides in a way that makes sense and works with solves a lot of problems as far as road closures and rider safety. So there’s my two cents on that. I combine forces with will Dugan, who was also generating a really cool idea at the time it was a, it was a ride project called Project super training. And this idea was, we’ll brought in a few sponsors. He had a follow car, he had some food and some hydration and some post ride food. And the idea was, you showed up for the ride, you paid 20 bucks, and you did this group ride. The $20 that you paid, went to a charity, and every month was a different cause. He donated to different groups around the Denver area, Denver Metro Area nonprofits. And it was a really cool way to give back. Let’s go ride our bikes. But let’s do something that benefits society as a whole. This is a great example of inclusive thinking, this is a great way to not just go ride your bike selfishly and smash yourself into oblivion and do all your intervals and go home and obsess over your power numbers but actually have a positive impact on your community. So kudos to will for making this project and coming up with this idea. This is great. The challenge I have with it when I started working with well on these rides and leading groups was that the groups were too big. And I felt that they were it was the point where it was unsafe. We had some amazing rides on those super training rides. A few days went to Fort Collins and did 115 120 mile rides. But even in a group of 30, there are roads that we had no business being on, we’re talking twisty windy mountain roads, where we’re regular being passed by huge pickups, driving speedboats behind them. There’s no safe equation for that there’s no, the road just isn’t big enough for all these groups to be on it. And the choice, by default is that cyclists should not be on them. Certainly not in that group size, maybe ones and twos possibly you’re still taking a risk. And for what for sport. What I’m suggesting is a way for you to think about changing the paradigm of your training. And this isn’t rocket science or anything novel or new. I’m not, I’m not suggesting that I’ve come up with some magic solution. Many riders have already come to this conclusion. Over and over again, I run into riders who are saying I’m riding my road bike less, I just bought a gravel bike, because they want to stay off the roads. And I think this is one solution. Obviously, this is only a solution if you live somewhere where gravel exists.
Colby Pearce 32:37
if you live in a big city with bike paths, bike paths may not be that much safer than roads, between rollerbladers ebikes people walking and not knowing what they’re doing and forgetting the common laws of traffic, etc. Especially since pretty much everyone has earbuds in. But what I’m suggesting is think critically about your local ride routes. What are the most accident prone sections? think critically about the group rides you attend regularly, if you do is this ride a ride that’s really well controlled and safely done. This can’t this is possible. We do have another example of a local group ride here in Colorado that’s very competitive, very highly paced. But when the group gets too big, it gets pared down into a B and C groups.
Colby Pearce 33:26
Fast section is well defined before the ride starts. So everyone knows where the air quotes race begins and where the air quotes race ends. And the C group goes first. It’s a handicap style. The bigger boys about two minutes and then starts and chases the C group and then the a group chases the B group. And what’s brilliant about this is as the group start to come apart and people get dropped frequently, they can get picked up by a group that’s coming from behind and get a little more work out of themselves. Also having an A, B and C allows people to self select for what they think they’re going to be motivated by and successful by if you show up and are just trying to hang on to the strongest people and you’re not maybe you’re in the 50th percentile, then sometimes you get dumped pretty quickly and then you’re riding by yourself. And then it doesn’t feel like a useful exercise. So this is a great way to reorganize your local group ride if you’re so inclined. Also, I won’t say this is this is this is the solution for everyone. But this group I’m referring to I won’t describe the company I won’t name the company that runs it but it is run by a local cycling company. And while there’s some risk with that potentially being associated with a ride, the Pro is that this ride is basically it’s not invite only but people have been known to be disinvited from that ride when they ride like jerk offs. If you’re crossing the the white line or the double yellow line to attack, you can be disinvited from that ride. No longer welcomed. That way. It gives you some control over how the riders conduct themselves you have a standard upon which you expect the riders to perform during that ride. That means not running stop signs not flipping off cars, singling out when needed. being smart dialing back the pace when there are maybe moments where traffic gets to be, potentially a challenge. Be safe, be smart. And please consider the paradigm of tribalistic thinking, this paradigm expands infinitely in all directions, whether it’s you putting yourself in a box of people who don’t get toothpaste on the counter when you brush your teeth versus those who do all the way up to who you voted for. where you stand on vaccinations or abortion. Anytime you look at groups of people as us and them and you assign value to those groups, you are dividing, you are causing separation. And what is the only rule that really matters walking on the face of this earth it is a golden rule. Do unto others as though you would have them do unto yourself or more may slightly modern way to say that is do no harm, but take no shit. Don’t take my loving perspective as passivity, or willingness to let you Trump over me. That’s not what I’m saying. There’s a balance there. segwaying into the next topic. I want to talk about indoor training. Now some of you might go buy a mountain bike or grab a bike to get off the roads. Many of you might move indoors. And while indoor training is a solution, in some cases, I think it’s got some pros and some cons and I wanted to discuss those. So controversial thought for Chapter Two is writing swift makes you a worse bike rider. There’s a bomb dropped. I’ve been thinking a lot about this especially in 2020 there’s so many riders who ride indoors. I’ve had athletes who pretty much been indoors almost the entire season for various reasons. Ending where they live, how crowded their roads are and concern about COVID and comorbidities etc. Recently, I heard a podcast it’s called life in the peloton. It’s a put on by Mitch Ducker who’s a writer for EF great pod. And he had a guest Kevin poelten who is a coach at the World Tour level Kevin’s work for Katyusha and various other teams. And he’s got a lot of experience working at the world level. He’s an Australian. Nice Guy, good guy, very smart coach. I’ve I’ve worked with him a little bit through some common athletes that we’ve we’ve shared, we’ll say. And Mitch interviewed Kevin specifically about the topic of indoor training. And Kevin had some interesting things to share. And this was brought about I think by the insights that Kevin gleaned from the 2020 year when a lot of writers were training indoors, especially some of the athletes he had been locked down.
Colby Pearce 38:27
And of course, we know that riders are all over the map. Some athletes are quite capable of being on the bike for long periods of time indoors, others can barely tolerate 60 minutes. So mental fortitude or maybe your personal preferences about where you like to train aside. There are some pros and cons to unpack in what happens when you ride indoors or specifically what happens when you ride a smart trainer. Kevin told a great story about one of his athletes, South African writer named Willie Schmidt, who wrote 1000 k on a trainer at one point this spring, that spring of 2020. Maybe in the summer, I don’t know the exact date and took him about 13 hours. And that was a pretty impressive feat, something I’m not going to attempt anytime in the near future. Kevin has Willie what he focused on, or what he used to keep himself entertained during this extremely long endeavor. And Willie’s response was I looked at my speed. He didn’t watch movies, he didn’t ride Swift. He didn’t listen to music or podcasts. literally watch this speed. So I bring this up only to illustrate what humans are capable of when they put their selves themselves into a certain mindset and they have a goal or another way to phrase that is For a man who has a why, there’s always how I’m not suggesting that other writers should be capable of this type of focus. But I think it’s interesting. And I also like to study cases like this. Because when we understand what the human mind is possible is capable of at the highest end or the most extreme end of the range, then it gives us perspective on what we might accomplish. And it helps us maybe understand that if we do have to ride the trainer for 75 minutes, maybe it’s not so bad. pros of riding indoor trainers. I’m talking specifically about a smart trainer, which is a big heavy Trainer with a big flywheel and controls your power output. So for example, you can preload a workout into your head unit. And that communicates with the trainer via the magical Bluetooth holes or whatever. And the load will be controlled by the trainer. So no matter what cadence you are doing, you’re always you are writing at work, say 250 watts for your given duration. What’s nice about this, well, it’s really brainless. So coach can write your workout with several intervals. And all you have to do is kind of pay attention to your cadence, but the power is the power. And that is kind of cool in a way, because it makes it very well, brainless earns a focus on how much power you’re making, it just happens. The downside to that is that you’ve got to be quite precise about the power you are prescribing to your athlete, because if you’re off by even a little bit, the intervals can be either not productive or not sustainable. The other part I don’t necessarily fall in love with on this is that one of my objectives is one of my objectives as a coach is to instruct my athlete to be more intuitive about the effort they’re putting out. Meaning if I want you to do eight minutes at zone three, you should be able to instinctively find zone three through this sensation of pressure you are applying to the pedals. And that pressure is a result of both torque and cadence. Then you’re watching her heart rate as a response to that load. So other pros to riding the trainer is that our that riding indoors is extremely focused, it’s distilled. You don’t have stoplights, you don’t have uphills. And downhills, you don’t have wind, or no wind, you don’t have extremes in temperature. So if I want to have someone do 90 minutes in, we’ll say, Hi, zone two power zone two plus, they can bang that out and have a variability index of 1.00 or 1.01 or whatever, and be extremely steady in their power output. And that can provide a very specific training load, we can give them intervals and those intervals can be executed with precision because they aren’t hitting a stop sign by accident at the end of their five minute effort or having to deal with random traffic or roads. roadworks for example, in the middle of an interval that you didn’t know you were going to come upon. So it allows us control of our training, it also distills things. If I want someone to do intervals, I can have them warm up for 20 minutes, do the intervals and warm down for 10 minutes. And it’s a very time effective workout.
Colby Pearce 43:27
And what’s important, there is the intervals, not the duration. Of course, you can also use trainer for duration, like Willie did, or you can do a four hour ride on the trainer. But we get generally speaking, we get a little more quality for the quantity of time invested. Some other advantages to indoor training are that, generally speaking, we build heat when we’re riding indoors, and that induces a change in blood volume. The more liquid you hold in your blood, and your muscles generally speaking, the faster you go in the short term, people a lot of people aren’t really aware of this. But when you go to the water, go to the line of an event holding a lot of water those water stored in the muscles generally helps performance there’s some writers who complain they feel sluggish when they have too much water in their muscles in my opinion. That’s a coaching moment. But remember, carbohydrate is an essential fuel for going really fast, no matter what you’ve been told about keto. And in order to store carbohydrate in the muscle, you need water. So if you’re eating all the pasta, but not drinking the fluids, you’re only getting half the equation. Also, there’s quite a bit of science to show that we get when we ride in hot conditions. We do have positive adaptations in the form of heat shock proteins. And those adaptations help us in hot weather racing. But they also just help our performance in general. And Kevin even states that they help in cold weather riding or he said I believe anecdotally that many of his riders found they could ride better in the cold. Even when they were adapted to riding the train or in the heat. I have, I am not aware of any science on that. And I don’t know if I totally buy that. But it’s interesting. It’s an interesting idea. That said, Kevin also stated in this podcast, something I thought was quite interesting, which is that many writers think that they’re hotter than they really are in the trainer. And he suggests that this is simply an adaptation to writing, for writing outdoors, where you’re used to the wind, constantly pulling heat off of your body. And when you go indoors, of course, you don’t have that unless you’re blasting yourself with a fan. And he would, he also suggests that riders actually do away with the fan in most cases, unless we’re talking about extreme indoor conditions. The idea being that kind of as you learn to ride and sweat more heavily, that you’re going to have increased benefit from that indoor trainer session. And I would agree with that, on the whole, Kevin uses a device called a core, which is an internal body temperature monitoring system. In the old days, you used to have to stick a thermometer up your butt to really know what an athlete’s internal temperature was. Now, we’ve got some devices that can do that externally. And I haven’t played with this yet. It’s a cool idea. But he talks about using that device and how it’s led him to a lot of insight into riders performance on the trainer. And having that ability to quantify the internal temperature the athlete has led him to believe that most riders don’t need a fan while they’re training indoors. In fact, the benefits of not using a fan outweigh the pros of having one. So basically, what he’s saying is toughen up, stop using a fan, learn to sweat more, it’s good for you. Obviously, you want to protect your headset bearings. And if you’re sweating all over your bike all the time you use a towel. Occasionally, people come in for a fit and they’ve their stem and handlebars are glued together by sweat. There’s nothing more disgusting, to be honest. But
Colby Pearce 47:01
also, I’ll point out that when you’re sweating excessively, this is a detoxification pathway of the body. Everyone detoxifies through various pathways, but some of us lean on some more than others. And there’s a lot of science to show that far infrared saunas promote long term health, and I believe they do anytime we sweat intensely, we’re basically activating one of those pathways to detoxify our body detoxify from what you ask, well, there’s glyphosate and almost everything. Now, for starters, we are constantly exposed to environmental toxins, both from inside our body and outside our body, from our diet from our air from our water. Every time you drink tap water, you’re getting microscopic doses of other people’s prescription drugs, that stuff isn’t filtered out by city filters. That’s only one small example. So the more detoxification you have, it’s just like taking out your trash. Do you want your house to be buried in garbage? Do you have cats? Do you clean the litter, you scoop up your dog poop? Well, then you should detoxify your own body and one of the ways to do that is through sweat. So when you sweat heavily, you are doing a good job of detoxifying your body. Total random side note in the weeds. If you’re training indoors, you’re sweating like crazy or even if you’re just training in the summer. Wash your cycling kit on hot every once in a while. Yes, most manufacturers tell you not to do this. Yes, this will decrease the life of your lycra. Yes, you want to do it anyway. Because when you sweat out all those toxins into your kid, and then you wash it on cold and hang dry it. You’re basically just riding around in toxic plastic clothing. At least every three washings for washings you should wash your kit on hot. Your clothes won’t last as long. It’s part of the price of health. A price well worth paying. Stop using laundry detergent with scented soaps. This stuff is toxic. Also, it smells like crap. If you’re trying to cover up your own nasty body odor with a bunch of perfume, it doesn’t work. It just smells like perfume on top of body odor. newsflash.
Colby Pearce 49:23
when you sweat a lot, of course you lose minerals. Through sweat, you’re detoxifying your body and you’re losing water. That means you’ve got to increase your hydration. Health one to one source the cleanest water you possibly can. Health one to replace your minerals. One of my favorite ways to replace minerals is with a hypertonic seawater called Keystone, which you can also just use a Celtic sea salt, a little couple little shakes of that. your water bottle every once in a while great way to keep your minerals up. There is an old Italian lifestyle that if you ride the train or too much, you will deplete yourselves of minerals. And there’s probably some truth to that. You are a salty bag of water. If you only drink water all the time and you drink too much water especially, you’re further depleting your mineral balance. You’re diluting the mineral balance you have so you’ve got to put some minerals in your fluids. Cons to riding the trainer when the trainer’s locked in place, completely stationary. This is not an accurate model of how bike behaves on the road. When you ride down the road you are balancing you are using subtle stabilizers. In the core, when you’re riding a bike on gravel or mountain bike, you’re using more of those. So when we ride a bike that’s in a trainer, and is locked down and has a heavy flywheel, especially riders who don’t tend to stand up much indoors, all the niggles come out, the back pains, the IT band problems, the postural problems that lead to sore shoulders numb hands, numb groin, all these things tend to get worse. And this is one of the objections I have to Kevin’s promotion of indoor training, I think he’s working at the World Tour level on some of these guys are just machines, so maybe they can tolerate it better. Or maybe they’re better at ignoring those things. But none of us should be better at ignoring those complaints. Listen to your body, it’s telling you something. discomfort is there’s a lesson in discomfort you have to disseminate whether that discomfort is something you should deal with or tolerate. So when we have increased problems, and increased incidence of problems like it man pain when we get on the trainer that’s telling us something. And the thing that it’s most likely telling us is that your pedal stroke is becoming worse. Because what camouflage is dead spots in a pedal stroke, a big heavy flywheel. Think about it. If you’ve got a 30 pound flywheel on a trainer, you get that thing going and get it rolling. You can pedal with pretty bad form and just jab at the pedals. You can stab them to death at four o’clock and do nothing else the rest of the time. And that flywheel will keep it rolling through the dead spots for you. It camouflage his dead spots. So the more you ride indoors on a heavy flywheel trainer, the more likely it is your pedal stroke technique will get worse. So you might be strong, but then when you get in your first race and there’s a really high speed moment, meaning the peloton is in a tailwind moving very quickly and you have to pedal very quickly. You might find yourself really lacking the souplesse or supple muscle or speed to match what’s happening in the peloton. So this is a limitation of trainers. Great way to offset this ride rollers. by far my favorite choice for indoor training is the inside ride rollers with a magnetic resistance unit that can coordinate with swift if you’re going to do virtual racing. This is the best solution because you can stand up the rollers move their dynamic, you can do all the things. It’s the most lifelike indoor riding experience that you can, you can find in my experience. Another good solution is the Cirrus makes a platform for the trainer that moves fore and aft and also rocks side to side. There’s also a rock and roll trainer from kinetic that’s not my favorite. It’s kind of a little bit cheeseball we want a platform that moves under the whole trainer, in my opinion, and the Cirrus platform is a good example of that we’ll put a link to this stuff in the show notes. So when we have poor posture on the bike, I’m talking outdoor riding, and then we ride indoors and the trainer’s fixed it magnifies all those problems. So if you’re dropping a hip on one side, if you’ve got pedaling asymmetries, bike being locked kind of makes those things worse because you’re not getting the feedback of the bike kind of going a little bit crooked down the road, you’re not having the feedback of the subtle
Colby Pearce 54:18
changes in grade and changes in terrain that force you to stand up every once in a while and adjust your position in the saddle. We’re missing these key points. And this impacts your writing negatively long term it can it doesn’t have to but it it does, most likely. So you the more Trent indoor training time you do, the more you have to offset that with postural compensations, such as prone Cobras or Mackenzie press ups or massage or myofascial release to keep your it bands loose. Also, I’ll note that I am a huge fan of narcissism when comes to indoor training.
Colby Pearce 55:03
so when you put your giant computer screen in front of your face directly in front of your trainer, and you just stare at swift all day, you’re even more checked out from what your body is doing on the bike. And this is not desirable, we want more connection. What is athletic practice about it’s about internal connection with the body and external Connect connection with nature is one of the things that cycling affords us. So if you’re disconnecting from your body and allowing your posture to get worse, you’re kind of increasing your problems. What’s the solution? go to Home Depot or your local hardware store is the first choice and buy a big mirror. Put it directly in front of your trainer. Watch your knee tracking, how much is your head bobbing? Use a dowel rod down the back of your jersey to see how long and extended your spine is, are you sitting with actual extension? Are you collapsing into your saddle, like a kebab crane and round in your spine, look at your breathing patterns. Look at the alignment of your nose over your stem. Look at your shoulder posture is one elbow bent more or less than the other. You can see all these things clearly in a mirror. And this way, it helps you stay checked in with your form. So if you’re going to ride a train, or indoors, at least you can keep tabs on yourself. Put your screen off to the side if you got to watch Swift, but don’t completely tune out and just turn into a blob of completely technique lis indoors lifting and train eroding. That way we avoid the increased likelihood of a negative spiral of postural crappiness. That’s what I have to say about that. Those are my tips. I know this was a lot of prognosticating and opinion slinging. So give me your feedback. Please. If you think that these types of episodes are stupid, and you don’t want to hear him, then take 30 seconds and send me an email and say, Pierce, I want you to shut up and have more guests on. You can do that at cycling and alignment at Fast Talk Labs.com. On the other side, if you like me talking about these types of things, just send me a little note please and say I really appreciated your input on this stuff. And more is okay. Or something with that effect. You can paraphrase. You don’t have to say exactly that. Thank you for listening. Be well be unhealth make choices that include other people remember, my only tribe is the human race. That’s my next t shirt. Signing off.
Colby Pearce 58:04
Attention space monkeys public service announcement. Really, technically, it’s a disclaimer, you already know this, but I’m going to remind you that I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a doctor. So don’t think anything on this podcast to constitute morally or Dr. Lane advice and play either of those characters on the internet.
Colby Pearce 58:27
we talked about lots of things, and that means we have opinions. I guess opinions are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of anyone who is employed by or works at fast dot labs. Also, if you want to reach out and talk to me about feedback on the podcast, good, bad or otherwise, may do so. At the following email address info at cycling in alignment.com