Cycling Base Training Pathway - Fast Talk Laboratories

Innovative Approaches to Base Training, with The Cycling Gym

We discuss ways to stay motivated, add variety to your training methods, reinvigorate your work ethic, and improve performance for next season.

Fast Talk Podcast Q&A indoor cycling

Base training has traditionally been all about long, slow rides. But that’s tough if you live in the northern hemisphere and you hate the cold, or lack the necessary equipment to ride safely outdoors when road conditions might be perilous and light is limited. Today, we’re discussing how best to deal with those challenges that plague the northern hemisphere this time of year. (Apologies to all of our friends in the southern hemisphere!) Does it kill your motivation to ride? Do you feel the fitness literally draining from your body? Don’t let it! The darkness, cold temperatures, and perilous road conditions of the winter months don’t have to be any sort of barrier. In fact, as you’ll learn in this episode, this time of year is the perfect time to find a host of new ways to stay motivated, add variety to your training methods, try something new, reinvigorate your work ethic, and, ultimately, set yourself up to improve performance when the racing begins later in the year.

Our primary guests today are Andrew Randell and Steve Neal, the owners of Toronto’s The Cycling Gym, joined by one of their athletes, Jeremiah Groen, someone who we imagine is similar to a lot of our listeners: “I’m a very amateur cyclist, don’t do many races; I mostly just want to be fit.” These three Canadians don’t care about the winter blues! Their advice? Get brave and get outside. Yes, even in the dark and even in the snow. But if you can’t or won’t go outside, they have plenty of sage advice on how best to hit the gym, the trainer, or the weight room to get the most, and the most balance, out of your training sessions. We’ll also hear from pro roadie Erica Clevenger. She divulges some of her favorite methods of cross-training. All that and much more, including some tech advice from Lennard Zinn. By the end of this episode, you’ll understand that using the base season properly to prepare for the build to come and the all-important race season to follow can be a very enjoyable time of year. Now, let’s make you fast!

Primary Guest Andrew Randall and Steve Neal: Co-owners of Toronto’s The Cycling Gym
Secondary Guests Jeremiah Groen: An athlete from The Cycling Gym Erica Clevenger: Pro cyclists with Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank Lennard Zinn: Legendary tech guru and author

Episode Transcript

Intro  00:00

Welcome to Fast Talk the VeloNews podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.


Chris Case  00:08

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris Case, co-founder of Fast Labs. Along with my partner, the Fast Labs physiology guru, our resident Santa, Coach Trevor Connor. First, Happy holidays from Coach Connor and I, it has been a powerful year, let’s say at Fast Talk. We’re thankful for you, our listeners for taking the time to enjoy and learn from our podcast. We love this little community of scientific nerds, Grand Tour fanatics, cycling connoisseurs that we’ve created. So thank you again for listening, sharing, and being a part of Fast Talk. Before we jump into today’s episode, we have a few pieces of news we’d like to share. First, we want to remind you that as we build our Fast Labs Podcast network, we’re in somewhat of a transition phase. So we continue to partner with our good friends at VeloNews of course, but we also have our own channel, where you’ll find more great shows in the near future. So look for us on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play, Castbox, and a host of other platforms. We’ll soon be on Spotify, we’re applying to be on iHeartRadio. Essentially, we want you to find us wherever you prefer to find us. So we’re doing our best to get there, wherever that there is. As always, when you do find us, please rate us and review us as we build our channel. That helps others find us as well. The second piece of news, as we’ve always said, we love hearing from you, our listeners out there.


How to Leave Us a Message or Question

Chris Case  01:52

To that end, we’ve set up a Google voicemail system, so you can call in, leave us a voicemail with your burning question for Coach Connor and I, more for him last for me. And we’ll potentially include you in an upcoming episode. That’s because Fast Talk will soon become a weekly show. So send us your questions on physiology, nutrition. Frank Overton I don’t care tactics, the pedal stroke. Whatever it is you want to know, we’ll try to find the answer. We’ll use the same system in the future for other specific questions, so stay tuned. The number to call is 719-800-2112. Again, that number for you to leave us an actual voicemail. Remember those things voicemails, is 719-800-2112. Please make sure that you have a good wireless internet connection when you call. Please call us from a quiet location so we can hear you clearly, and finally, please use headphones with an attached microphone for the best possible audio quality. Now, if you’re riding a very quiet trainer, when you call, just try to keep all that breathing and panting and sweating to a minimum. Thanks. Now on to Episode 90, our final episode of the wonderful year 2019. Today we’re discussing how best to deal with the lack of daylight that plagues the northern hemisphere this time of year. Many apologies Of course to our friends in the southern hemisphere. Does the lack of light, the cold temperatures, the icy roads does that kill your motivation to ride? Do you feel as if the fitness is literally draining from your body? Don’t let it don’t do it. The darkness, the temperatures, the perilous road conditions of the winter months don’t have to be any sort of barrier. In fact, as you’ll soon learn in this episode, this time of year is the perfect time to find a host of new ways to stay motivated. Add variety to your training methods, try something new, reinvigorate your work ethic and ultimately set yourself up to improve performance when the racing begins later in the year. Our primary guests today are Andrew Randall and Steve Neal, the owners of the cycling gym up in Toronto, Canada, and they bring in one of their athletes Jeremiah to join the discussion.


Andrew Randall Introduction

Andrew Randall  04:21

Andrew Randall grew up riding bikes. Raced professionally for a bunch of years. Stopped racing in 2011 you know, started a coaching business, met Steve Neil in 2014. Bing bang boom we’ve opened a gym and that’s what we’ve been doing for five years.


Steve Neal Introduction

Steve Neal  04:39

I’ve been coaching I think since I was 24. Started off just with a kind of a local rider that reached a pretty high level before he got sick. When he got sick, I met a guy named Juerg Feldman, who helped me turn this athlete around in a un- like an unbelievable short period of time. I ended up coaching and working with Juerg as a mentor for an awfully long time, and during that period, I guess I was the provincial coach for mountain biking for about nine years. And during this whole time, kind of had a little private coaching business. And then Andrew, you know, mentioned that we became partners at the gym, and that’s been really fun so far. Trying to work at the gym and make everybody faster like Jeremiah. So segue.


Jeremiah Groen Introduction

Jeremiah Groen  05:30

Yeah so, Jeremiah Groen. Been at the gym, here in Toronto for three years. I would describe myself as a very amateur cyclist. I train regularly don’t do many races. I just want to have fun and be fit. That’s kind of my main goals. I’ve always been active but had never reached like super high levels that at any one thing, and yeah, having fun would be my my primary goal.


Chris Case  05:56

Yes, they’re Canadian. But they don’t care at all about the winter blues. They’re tougher than us down here in America. It’s true, and their advice, get brave and get outside. Yes, even in the dark, even in the snow. But if you can’t, you won’t go outside. They have plenty of sage advice on how best to hit the gym, the trainer, the weight room, whatever at your disposal to get the most in the most balance out of your training sessions. We’ll also hear from pro roadie Erica Clevenger, someone who has only really known warmth and comfort all of her life. Now she lives in Colorado, so she’s dealing with a little bit, a tease of some inclement weather now and again. She rides for the next few days at least, for Show Air 2020 before she jumps over to the TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank squad in 2020. She divulges some of her favorite methods for cross training with us in this episode. All that and much more including some sage tech advice from Lennard Zinn. By the end of this episode, you’ll understand that using the base season properly to prepare for the bill to come in the all important race season to follow that can be very enjoyable time of year. Now, let’s make you fast.


Fast Labs Experience Training Camps

Chris Case  07:23

Ready to take your training and racing to the next level? We’re proud to introduce the Fast Labs Performance Experience Training Camps. Combining our devotion to science with our passion for sport, we’ve developed a world class experience modeled after World Tour team camps. The likes of which are typically reserved for the most elite cyclists. Now, bringing it to you to help you gain a better understanding of the science of human performance. In partnership with the incredible staff at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center will guide you through pro-caliber, physiological testing, biomechanical analysis, and nutritional assessment. Throughout the camp, leading experts in Sport Science will present on the latest developments in their fields. Oh, and you’ll also get to ride on the gorgeous mountain roads of Boulder with Coach Trevor Connor and myself. Check out enter Fast Labs 2020 as the discount code and receive $500 off a purchase at this performance experience training camp.


Chris Case  08:33

But before we get to the guys at the cycling gym to hear their thoughts on this challenge, we had the opportunity to talk to a local pro about how she deals with having limited light and poor weather conditions during the winter months. Earlier this week, I was visiting our friends at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center to discuss our new Fast Labs Training Camps. In fact, low and behold, I bumped into my friend Erica Clevenger and knew I needed to talk to her about her bass training. Here’s someone from California who went to school in Arizona. Now living in Colorado working on her PhD and training as a pro. She must have some good advice for all of us. So I asked her some good questions, and she describes for us the ways that she addresses bass training. Note to self, carry podcast recorder at all times everywhere I go in the future because you never know who you’re going to bump into and want to talk to.


How Erica Clevenger Addresses Base Training

Erica Clevenger  09:30

In the past, it’s sort of dependent on where I’ve been and where I’ve been in my training. So for the longest time, I was actually in Arizona where it’s sunny year round, and I can do those really long base miles and I enjoy them because everyone else is doing long base miles and you know, that’s kind of where you get your community. But I recently moved to Colorado where I live in Lakewood, actually, and I found there that that your options are much more limited especially in the winter. Like you have either bike paths which may or may not have ice or people on them, or you have like going up to the mountains, which also might be sort of a treacherous decision. This season, I’ve sort of taken more of a new approach in trying to do quite a bit more cross training, and historically, like, that’s sort of what I’ve done. I started in triathlon, so I always sort of revert back to that. I always like to do some swimming, because I just think it’s really excellent recovery. And you guys did a actually a podcast recently with a physical therapist. I forget- Jess maybe?


Chris Case  10:28

Jess Elliot. Yes.


Erica Clevenger  10:29

Jess Elliot, and she talked about a lot of issues that cyclists have, and one of them was thoracic kyphosis, and I absolutely have that. So swimming, swimming really helps me with that. I love to run like I never, you know, quit triathlon because I hated running like some people did, I love running. And I find that running with my dog is like the best thing ever, because he’s just so happy when he does, it’s worth it just to be out there for him, and that’s really good training, of course, in a smaller amount of time. And you can do it, you know, no matter, mostly no matter what the elements are. So, so I sort of revert back to those. But what I’ve been doing quite a bit of is my lab groups. I work at Colorado School of Mines, where I’m working my PhD, and my research group, they’re really active, and it’s really fun. And so they always invite me to go do stuff, and one of the things they love to do is racquetball, so I’ve been playing racquetball with them. I played tennis in high school, so I’ll play tennis occasion, occasionally. I went back to see my family recently in Blaine, Washington, where I played pickleball, like the whole time. So I’ve just been doing a little bit of racquet sports recently, and I think that’s been really fun for me, and it’s really good to get that sort of lateral movement, because otherwise, those muscles just sort of start to deteriorate.


Chris Case  11:41



Erica Clevenger  11:42

And especially since I’ve been reading, “Roar”, another book that I think you had on your podcast.


Chris Case  11:47

Yes, with Stacey Sims.


Erica Clevenger  11:48

Um with Stacey Sims, you know, especially for women, those muscles, they don’t come back after a certain period of time, like you kind of have to build, use it or lose it right. And you sort of have to build those that strength in order to keep it and I, for myself just want to be able to be functional at like 50 or 60.


Chris Case  12:05

Yeah, yeah.


Erica Clevenger  12:05

So I just put a lot of value in some of that cross training. Maybe not even so much for performing at at maybe it’s not necessarily because I want to perform at the absolute highest level that I want to perform at that season. But it’s more so for my long term health. But I you know, do some of those cross training activities, and what I’ve been told about offseason is during season you want to be the best cyclist that you want to be, but offseason you want to be the best athlete, which is all around athlete. And of course I mix in some weight training as well.


Chris Case  12:35

Okay, with this in mind, let’s jump over to talking with Andrew, Steve and Jeremiah up in Canada about bass training and how to do it best.


Chris Case  12:44

So it’s winter, it’s dark outside, it’s cold outside. Well, that’s, that’s really not that true. We’re sitting here on a lovely day Trevor and I in Boulder, and it’s actually pretty sunny, the snow is melting. But we’ve got three guys on the line. I’m not going to make fun of where they live, but I’m just going to say they probably have less sunlight than we do this time of year. They’re up in Toronto. And they are experts on what we’re going to talk about today, which is figuring out how to train, improve performance, get through the winters with limited light, and not overdo it. Progress. Do all those fun things you want to do when you’re training. But do it with the constraints of having you know, no light dealing with cold temperatures. All of those things, those constraints that a lot of people deal with not just people in the Great White North up there.


Trevor Connor  13:45

Poor Canadians. What American. This is looking a little scared.


Chris Case  13:50

Nah I’m wet a little bit.


Chris Case  13:52

We’re talking about a period of the year when a lot of people want to be doing what’s traditionally known as bass training. These longer slower rides and things like that, but it’s hard to do because we’ve got limited lights. So what we want to do is talk about strategies and ways to work around that, talk about maybe the if that’s true or not do we do we need to just slog through the the dark with headlights on our bike or what what can we do? So let’s dive a little bit into that.


Trevor Connor  13:52

As history will serve, we are all going to end up making fun of Canadians. You know, you know the way this works.


Trevor Connor  14:03

Does it make sense to say just start doing a ton of this high intensity let’s drop the volume do a lot more high intensity work and you’re going to get to the same place? Or the signs of potential overreaching issue. So how much high intensity work you feel the these athletes who might only be able to get six, seven hours in the winter should they be doing?


How to Handle Those High Intensity Workouts in the Winter

Andrew Randall  14:49

Well I mean, at the gym, I would say when we do a high intensity block we keep it to two days a week. Not not all the sessions are high intensity right? So we try to really vary things. So we might do two high intensity sessions during the week, but then the weekend will be endurance. And during the winter, when people are coming here consistently, we know what they’re kind of doing pretty much three rides a week, so maybe two hard ones, one, steady one, and then a couple of strength sessions. And that’s kind of been our template for the last few years, at least four parts of the blocks anyway.


Trevor Connor  15:25

So you don’t believe in compensate with do a more high intensity?


Andrew Randall  15:30

No, and even when we do the high intensity, we’re still applying heart rate, and making sure people aren’t burying themselves by, you know, watching their reactions to the work and their recovery, putting heart rate ceiling on for VO2 stuff, making sure it’s repeatable. So even even with the high intensity stuff, it’s not. It’s not blow your brains out training, you know.


Training at the Gym vs. Training at Home

Steve Neal  15:51
So I think one of the things that’s different about the gym approach versus maybe someone training at home, even under our guidance, is that people are coming to the gym, are through the winter months, they’re really only coming to the gym. So they might, you know, they’ll be here five or six days a week, and so we have a strength and conditioning program that happens to have those days, there’s two days, usually when they’re not doing anything. I’d say 90% of the clients actually just take those two days completely off, and then the strength program is a pretty well balanced approach. But not it doesn’t create a ton of fatigue, and we do kind of balance, if we’re doing a harder block on the bike, then we do recommend maybe backing off a little bit on on the strength side of things for two or three weeks, so that we’re not pushing things from two different places. So I think that the gym atmosphere, you know, like Andy said, using heart rate ceilings, and also we use basements so that if people can’t get in this range, then we you know, we’re lucky enough to be able to kind of walk over, look them in the face, ask them how their legs feel, check their respiration rate. You know, so being in person is is pretty helpful, and then their learning curve. I think it’s pretty steep with you know, attaching all these different body feelings to certain different kinds of workouts. But I think the bigger thing is that there’s there’s not this six or seven days a week of training, always going on always on the bike that I think helps us do a little bit more intensity at the gym. Yeah, so hope that helps a bit.


Trevor Connor  17:28

Yeah, no sorry we should take a step back and just explain that the cycling gym I’ve been there in Toronto, it’s this great facility where you have essentially an entire weight room facility that that’s quite robust. It’s on par with what I’ve seen that a lot of actual gyms and then you have a whole cycling studio so you can really do everything with your your athletes, and it sounds like you’re saying one of the ways you address the winter and and the boredom of being on the trainer is get people into the gym where they’re they’re riding together where you can interact with them. It sounds like there there’s a enjoyment in a control factor with that as well.


Jeremiah Groen’s Experience with Training in the Winter

Andrew Randall  18:08

Why don’t we get Jeremiah to chime in, and you know what his experience has been with adding weights to his program, because he’s been doing it for a few years now and how he feels that affects his winter.


Jeremiah Groen  18:16

Yeah, I would say the weights through me are pretty important. But something that you really have to monitor your fatigue level with, you can easily get into like a situation where you’ve got too much overload, I’ve found just by pushing it too hard. And so sometimes I go back to like, just once a week, or just working out at 70% of max, when I’m lifting weights, I found that to be the the most important thing for me.


Threshold Work in the Winter?

Trevor Connor  18:41

So I want to kind of jump into something that you put in the notes, the sort of high intensity work that you do in the winter with your athletes when they’re there in the base season. So you said you never want them blowing their brains out. I also found it interesting you put in your notes that you have them do a lot of tempo, sweetspot, VO2 work, and anaerobic capacity, but very little threshold. And wanted to dive into that with you because I’m actually quite the opposite. In the winter, I have my athletes doing almost nothing but threshold work. So what’s what’s your feeling on rationale on on that sort of work and the the base in the winter?


Steve Neal  19:20

Generally speaking, when people come back to the gym in the fall, because so we basically test everybody on a monthly basis. When we first opened the gym, very few people were coming in the summer, but what we did was we offered a free test every month for anyone who is a member so they could pop in in June or July or August or whatever. The first summer. No one came except for maybe one person. Then the second summer, a number of people actually came throughout the summer to get those tests done, and it was I mean, I wasn’t surprised. But they were kind of surprised that they had been riding their bike all summer and outside more and doing all this stuff, and then every time June, July, August, September rolled around, they’re actually getting worse. So we, we see that an awful lot where people come back to the gym, and in worse shape than they left it, and so that, you know, I guess if we want to attach a name to what we do, it’s probably reverse periodization because generally people come, they’ve maybe got a lot of volume and a lot of, you know, hard group riding in their legs and that they’ve actually lost performance. So we kind of make sure they’re rested and ready to go. But then we tend to focus on no VO2 or anaerobic capacity first, and then the gym does kind of morph as a schedule as we see how people respond. So you know, I use WKO5 in the gym, and all the clients are in there, so I can kind of keep an eye on it, and I think that really helps. Helps on one side, but I think back to being able to see people and how they respond to workouts. I don’t know, I’ve always found that, that too much threshold training really just causes this like deep muscular fatigue, and whereas the VO2 and anaerobic capacity stuff, they seem to be able to pull it off when managed correctly. So that’s the other thing is like, you know, we really believe in intervals being equally paced. So if there’s 21 VO2 intervals in a set, then they have to be all equal, and they have to be between 90 and 95% heart rate. So the specific way we might manage a workout is let’s pretend we’ve got a 21 interval set and someone comes in jumps, they sign up in the gym in the middle of a block. So they might get to 95% heart rate halfway through the workout, then they have to start trimming power to stay in their hurray range. But if they you know fall off the wagon too much, then we would just sort of they would just cut their workout a little short and do recovery, and then over time, they are able to perform all the intervals equally in the heart rate zone, and you know if you could watch them with the same sort of perceived exertion.


After Winter, How Should Athletes Transition Their Training?

Trevor Connor  22:00

So then what do you do? So that’s, that’s the base, and you have to do that sort of work. When you get to the season, do you transition the work that they’re doing? Are they still doing a lot of that really high intensity work?


Steve Neal  22:12

Yeah, so I think this is where the this, this where it gets a bit tricky, I might let just Jeremiah jump in, in a sec. So when the spring rolls around, many of the clients just they just go off and do their own thing. Many people continue their strength training throughout the summer, and there’s a handful of people that come for biking. But I think what happens is, I’m going to let Jeremiah expand as they sort of, they kind of understand the effect of what their summer brings, and they sort of learn how to enter the spring with this really good high end fitness. And that they need to learn how to manage bringing bass and you know, we do a lot of tempo. So I’m not gonna say that that’s not part of it.


Jeremiah Groen  22:51

So I’ve been working with these guys for three years, and this was the first summer where I kind of took the advice and basically ride a lot more endurance than I wanted too.


Chris Case  23:01

How much do you mean, when you say a lot of endurance riding?


Jeremiah Groen  23:05

I probably did a hard group ride once every two to three weeks, and other than that I was just riding had 70 to 75% heart rate, or whenever I went out. And what I found was that A) it was a little bit boring. But B) my motivation to ride stayed high throughout the whole summer, and then when I went out on group rides, like I really went hard, and those ended up being like amazing rides. I ended up setting like all time power records on some of my group rides, and I found that the the fun parts were smaller, but more fun when they occurred. And that was how I managed my my summer.


Chris Case  23:50



Jeremiah Groen  23:51

Yeah, there seems to be this like, for at least the amateur rider, there’s an inverse correlation between fun and fitness. So if you want to get fit, you basically have to have less fun. If you want to just do group rides all the time and have fun, you’re gonna lose fitness.


Chris Case  24:07

I could see a little bit of truth to that. Yeah, yeah.


Type of Endurance Work Cyclists Can Do In the Winter

Trevor Connor  24:10

That is fair. So what sort of endurance work are you doing in the winter?


Jeremiah Groen  24:14

Ah, not too much, just whatever they prescribe for me, but maybe once a week I do tempo to endurance otherwise, it’s been a lot of threshold work so far.


Trevor Connor  24:26

For any of our listeners, if you have something like the cycling gentlemen, an incredible facility like this, I highly recommend it. As matter of fact, when I moved out to Toronto, I handed my athletes over to you guys because I felt you were the best coaches to to get them more to where they needed to get to. But a lot of our listeners, they, they don’t have the sort of resources. So let’s also talk about this for people who don’t have a cycling gym near them.


How Can Athletes Train in the Winter If They Don’t Have the Resources?

Andrew Randall  24:50

I would say one of the first things people have to think about and something that I run into with my coaching clients is, you know, what’s your level of motivation and what are your goals? In terms of what your approach is going to be, and you know how much how much you’re willing to do or sustain. And, and again, timeline is important, like chatting with Jeremiah, you know, motivation is always high in October, November, December, because we’re all thinking about next year and we’re pumped and excited. And so we need to keep that motivation going through until April and be able to ride our bikes and have fun come May, June, July, right?


Trevor Connor  25:24



Andrew Randall  25:25

Generally speaking it to do with that motivation side of things is during the weekdays, you know, workouts probably be like an hour and a half kind of structure, an hour to an hour and a half by the time you’ve warmed up and cool down. Yeah, I mean, the way we’ve run it at the gym, for example, is I guess we kind of use a bit of blockchain almost you know, we started with some ancap stuff, and have been doing some VO2 stuff recently. So you know, those workouts, by the time you’ve done a 20 minute warm up, and you’ve done, I don’t know, you know, a 20 minute block of work a little bit of break.  Another 20 minute block, and then a cool down, I mean, you’re an hour and a half pretty quickly. And which is great, because the structure just makes the time go by no problem. You know, the same thing, even when we go into VO- or tempo type stuff, six by 10 minutes, two by thirties, that kind of thing. We generally keep it to an hour and a half.


How To Train Without Setting Yourself Back

Steve Neal  26:15

I guess we can just get specific with, say, some blocks we’ve already done over the last few months in the gym. So anaerobic capacity workout, we might, you know, do six by 45 seconds on with four minute 15 second break, and then we might do that’s one workout we’ll use and then another one would be sort of 30, 60, 90- 2 minutes. 90 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 seconds. So a block where they’re going to go as hard as they possibly can, for each duration of the interval, and we have a bit of a joke at the gym, where we’d like them to create a nice smile, a nice even smile with their power profile on the TV screen when when they’re done. So, you know, so they’re going as hard as they can, but we want both 32nd intervals to be equal, and so therefore, the longer the interval the, the easier they’re going. But this, this whole workout would still be sort of at VO2 and higher powers. So those two workouts are, you know, quite challenging. We do find the mental aspect of people learning how to pace themselves at such hard levels is is I know, it’s amazing how much better people get at pacing, when we, you know, we let them do the intervals, then all of a sudden will pop up their graphs, so they can see how they’re doing. The improvement week after week is amazing. So they’re learning to work really, really hard. But I guess in my opinion, when doing that kind of work, they’re, they’re very consistent. So if you do two sets, both smiles look exactly the same. So the person is working very hard, but never like actually burying themselves. So they come back two days later, and they’re able to really perform on the other workout. When we’re doing that kind of work the- the gym works. I always say it’s pretty simple, because I guess it looks like it on paper. But you know, a hip dominant workout. So we basically have a squat day one day and a deadlift day the other day. And some supporting exercises surrounding that simple things like step ups or reverse sliding lunges, there’s always an upper body, push and pull both horizontally and vertically. So the program basically our goal is to make it really well balanced and try to work on a lot of the things that you know, cycling and sitting at a desk and sitting in a car might mess up. But but it can be challenging if you push the load on the gym side. So I think as we kind of Jeremiah alluded too it, as we push the load on the bike side. Then, you know, we coach the people to back off and then this the same exercise becomes almost like movement therapy. So that those are really the two kind of harder anaerobic capacity sessions we would do. I think the one thing that we we do at the gym a lot that I think is useful is, well it has two parts. One, we don’t use ERG mode very much. So we we only use ERG mode really when we do a step test, and we really like to use slope mode and have the athletes you know use their gears and cadence to hit prescribed power targets. And I think that really helps them develop a better feeling for how to use their fitness when they get back out into the real world rather than sort of just staring at their STEM. And then another kind of add on to slope mode is we might let’s say we’re doing 3, 15 minute blocks of tempo. We’ll actually turn we’ll let them say do the first one we’ll give them their goal wattage and cadence and a heart rate ceiling and they’ll go ahead and do the first one, just like you would outside; chain year, gears, finding the right RPM and settling in. We always try to make the slope like not perfect, so it’s almost a little bit annoying, and like it might be in the real world, nothing’s perfect. So they might do the first 15 minutes, we let them look at all their data on the screen, and then we’ll turn the TV’s off. And then the only thing they can see is cadence. So now they have to do a 15 minute block interval by feeling only being able to see their cadence. And so we don’t even really show them a clock during this time, so they just sort of have to settle in to try to match the feeling they had in the previous one. Sometimes they’ll sort of pop the TV on in the middle of that interval, and they can sort of check in and see if they’re close, way off, too high, too low. And it it’s amazing over the years how much better people have gotten out of duplicating a power goal by feeling.


Trevor Connor  31:00

When I first started using a trainer, I was always prescribed interval sessions using ERG boat. So for any of our listeners who don’t know this, this is where the trainer controls your power. So you plug in I want to my intervals of 250 watts and it doesn’t really matter what gear you’re in, or what cadence you’re doing the trainer’s going to keep you at 250. And I have seen exactly what you’re talking about when you finally get out on the road and try to do this where there’s undulations in the road, you have to control the wattage yourself. I was five found in the spring, I could not control my power and had to relearn how to do it. So you’re really focusing on not just hitting the power in your, your intervals, but learning how to generate it yourself learning how to feel what’s the right power?


Steve Neil  31:48

Yeah, I think it helps them. Even I think it really has, it’s very helpful and smoothing out persons pedal stroke. I think that our bodies aren’t like car engines. So we we tend to kind of come and go during an interval. So you know what it’s like to do tempo, and it’s like, I need to back off a little bit here. But then when you back off a tiny bit, you can you can bring back the power to get the same normalized power just because you took a tiny little back off, or maybe even you’re feeling good, and you go a tiny bit harder, but the overall interval is really tight in the range. But it’s it’s it fluctuates and we fluctuate naturally, and I think that that helps with that too.

Trevor Connor  32:27

Yeah, and there’s we did an episode I can’t remember which one was. Not that long ago, where we talked to some time trialers and they said, you know, the best time trialers can do this all by feel. I have this great quote from Svein Tuft is that basically the only thing he looks at when he’s time trial is his cadence. Otherwise, it’s all all knowing that feel is such an important thing to learn.


ERG Mode

Steve Neil  32:52

Yeah it’s cool. Yeah, I think you know, and that’s the thing with the, with the smart trainer, and, you know, all the different apps that are awesome. I think, I think the ERG mode is you know, it’s easier to watch Netflix, it’s easier to do whatever, it’s easy to send a text message. But, I don’t know I I kind of have this funny feeling it is, I think it’s partially responsible for heading towards burnout, you know. I mean, if you even if we you know, we talked a lot about doing higher intensity intervals when with sort of less time and if you’ve got a 30 watt range for VO2 or a 15 watt range, if you just do one interval or two intervals five or six watts less so that you can come back and finish off a really good set, like you’re still in the still in the zone. But you had a tiny little reprieve and you might even be able to finish 1-2% harder.


Trevor Connor  33:41



Steve Neil  33:43

But I feel like ERG mode just you know, some people say well, yeah, we like it because it doesn’t give us a break. But I don’t know I that’s that’s another big thing we use at the gym anyway.


Trevor Connor  33:55

So you’re having them do that interval work on-on the trainer, and then they’re immediately going to the gym side of your facility and doing the-the weight work or those at separate times?


How Steve and Andrew Structure Their Athlete’s Training

Steve Neal  34:08

Yes, separate day. So it’s kind of like the gym split up, and I think this is me great for anybody you know, at home, you can either leave the gym part out if you don’t have access, and just make sure you take an easy day or do some stretching or mobility or whatever really makes you feel better. But the I think the secret is not to work too hard on that day in between these hard sessions. But no, they would come and do the hard bike workouts on a Monday. Mm hmm. Gym work Tuesday, then another hard workout Wednesday, gym on Thursday, Friday is off, and then Saturday, as Andrew mentioned, we kind of have a longer endurance, sort of tempo day.


Trevor Connor  34:44

During the week. They’re only on the bike twice, that’s the Monday on the Wednesday?


Steve Neal  34:48



Trevor Connor  34:49

Okay, so no, no easy ride. So I personally have my athletes during the week do the same thing, just the two high intensities. But I’ll have them do a few easy rides to do a little neuro work during the week. Kind of interested in why you feel just the two is that part of just that being on the trainer too much is is mentally frying you?


Steve Neal  35:11

I think it’s sort of defaulted by how we how the gym operates, right, because in order for a person to fit those five things in, and come as a member of this class times are scheduled, so that that’s sort of how it’s evolved. But what’s shocking is how, how fit people, it’s amazing how fit people get on three bike workouts a week, two days off in two strength workouts a week. Like, I don’t know, not to talk about numbers too much, but we have like several; 8,9,10 people with MAPs over 360 watts, for sure, some near 400.


Trevor Connor  35:43



Steve Neal  35:43

Some big numbers coming out of the gym. Where like someone like Jeremiah and other people, they, they only come to the gym, and it’s and to the point where, yeah, I actually never would have thought this possible five years ago. Because I would have been a lot like you and I privately I’m probably very similar. But uh, it’s amazing how, how it does work, and I think maybe that’s, you know, if I just if I quickly sort of refer if we look at sort of an entire year of, say, Jeremiah’s power zones, I’ll just kind of go through this medium speed. So there’s like, if I combine active recovery and endurance, there’s, like 57%, of his training is there. 14% is tempo, 9% is threshold, and then we’ve got five and seven percent of VO2 and anaerobic capacity. So that’s an entire year, so arguably, if we put threshold down below, we’ve got a 10. But we’ve pretty much got a 90%-10% split, when you look at, you know, polarized.


Trevor Connor  36:50



Steve Neal  36:51

If we go to the last 30, last, last 30 days, where he’s only been at the gym, then the numbers are similar, but interesting, a little bit different. So now we’re talking about, you know, 60-65% endurance and active recovery, 10% tempo, 2% threshold 16% VO2 and 6% anaerobic capacity. So once again, it’s, it’s still polarized just a different, different way. But those are real numbers from a real person who comes to the gym for six months, and, you know, goes and enjoys the summer for six months. And so I think that training hard one day, and then doing strength or mobility work, that I think that’s where people kind of learn to manage the strength side of things, and they’re off their bike, and it’s a different movement, and so, whereas if they get on the bike, they might be tempted to do another hard workout, because it’s maybe boring to sit there for an hour. I don’t know. Because they don’t they don’t have the opportunity here, right, so.


Trevor Connor  37:51

So that’s what I was gonna ask you is what you’re you’re feeling as well why this is? To me, it’s counterintuitive, you said, you’re kind of where I was five years ago, are you you five years ago, you were at where I’m at now. Well if you’re going to do those to high intensity, you also need a couple easy. But it sounds like you’re saying it’s there’s just practical standpoints. If people aren’t good at going easy, it might get really boring, and maybe you just don’t need that much time on the bike this-in November and December.


Steve Neal  38:22

Yeah, I think there’s there’s no doubt about it. If they could have more time, I think I mean, I think you know me well enough to believe I’m a big believer in endurance training.


Trevor Connor  38:30



Steve Neal  38:31

But when you I think when you don’t have I think what happens is people tend to combine different systems. So it’s like, okay, I’m gonna do polarized training, but then they do too much tempo or too much, they just do too much of something to throw off the mixture, and maybe even just respect that you’re, they’re tired. So if they’ve, you know, if someone’s scheduling their own work, and they’ve got up, let’s say, they’ve got a threshold workout scheduled for Thursday, and they go to try that threshold workout, but it’s they’re just killing themselves to make it happen. They’re, they’re just, it’s not that the threshold work is wrong, they’re just not recovered yet. So maybe they should pull the plug and wait one or two more days. But I don’t, I think people like, love schedules, and so the gym, they’re on a bit of a schedule. But it’s, there’s this forced few days, technically three or four days off the bike, which I think puts them into the polarization world and allows those very specific cycling muscles to take a break.


Trevor Connor  39:32

No, I completely see that. I talk to my athletes all the time about in the base seasons, and especially when you’re talking early base like November, December and even January. That this is not the time to be making huge sacrifices to get more time on the bike. That is just if your target races are in May, this isn’t critical. So I’m just trying to think this through and I’m talking out loud, but there there is a certain rationale to me of if it’s a difference between just not being on the bike or as you say doing kind of in between not great quality work, I’d rather tell my athletes, look, there’s limited light, we all hate sitting on the train or so just get to high quality workouts in. And and we can do more time on the bike later when it’s easier when you have more daylight. But better just to get the two high quality sessions then to get to two high quality sessions and a bunch of low quality stuff. And make big sacrifices when you don’t need to be making sacrifices, at least that’s that’s kind of what I’m picturing in my head.


Steve Neal  40:31

I think incorporating the strength is an amazing thing. If you don’t, you don’t need a lot of equipment. So there’s lots of, you know, in the, you know, starting now over the last few weeks. So that, I guess is another way we get around this big fatigue situation. So we’re we’re going to do more, we’re going to kind of move into some tempo. But we always kind of leave a little bit of what we have been doing, and we kind of roll something new into the training. So it’s not like they ever leave what they’ve just done. I always kind of refer to like a, you know, if you’re taking a shortcut when you’re in high school, and you had to walk across a grassy field, and then you stop walking across that grassy field for three or four months, and you go to walk across that grassy field, you know, the grass is gonna be up to your waist, and it’s gonna be a lot of work, and you might trip and fall. And so if you kind of walk across that path once every three or four weeks, then maybe number one, the training will be so horrible when you’re somebody you know, goes asked to go back and to do it again. But so so that’s one reason why we kind of always dabble in something and while we’re working on something else. But we also start to we start to incorporate more of an upper body based core movement circuit. One of the two days a week in strength, which once again, kind of frees up the legs to give them a day off.


Trevor Connor  41:57

Which is great.


A Different Approach to Training

Jeremiah Groen  41:57

One thing to add about the strength, I think we’re talking about the studies over three weeks versus years is that in my experience, the strength takes like a year or two before you really can A) handle the fatigue and notice a difference, it takes quite a while for it to, to kick in, I’ve found.


Trevor Connor  42:16

I’m enjoying this, this is different for what I do, but I’m really hearing your rationale. So your solution all this is to say it’s dark, it’s nasty outside, you’re stuck in a trainer, so let’s boil it down to what you you really need. Which is that two-two times of high intensity. There’s a real gains to just getting in the weight room and doing some some upper body and lower body work, and let’s leave it there as opposed to trying to force you to do tons of time in the cold in the dark.


Andrew Randall  42:52

But I would even say we don’t even I mean, we do high intensity at the gym. But I would even say that it’s sort of mandatory is maybe not the right word. Because we might, you know, we might do for weeks and then test and then, you know, Steve, and myself and the other coaches chat amongst ourselves and say, “Oh, what have you been seeing with people in the class.” We might look at the results from the MAP test, and then we’ll go do something else, right? We, it’s not it’s not by rote that we’re doing to high intensity intervals a week. You know, like, now eventually we’ll progress into a block a tempo, we’re probably do three, three days a tempo a week, perhaps, you know, and then we’ll mix in some high intensity every other week or something like that. But it’s not the situation isn’t like every week is too hard intervals and then weekend can steady.


Trevor Connor  43:38

But it does sound like the the one thing that’s consistent here is let’s not throw a lot of maybe slightly beneficial but mentally draining time at you when you’re sitting in a basement on a trainer.


Andrew Randall  43:53

Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the things I always say is, again, it comes back to a bit but how motivated you are and what your goals are, and everybody’s a bit different. I mean, I have some clients that don’t mind riding indoors longer rides, but I think generally speaking the folks that I’ve seen who are like hyper committed and they’re doing these massive rides on the trainer in the winter, you know, come the season, are they still motivated to ride their bikes? So that’s where the that’s where there’s this sort of balanced situation. Maybe once in a while you do a long ride, but week in and week out over and over again.


Trevor Connor  44:25



Andrew Randall  44:26

Probably not appropriate, you know?


Trevor Connor  44:27

Yeah, and right now I can almost feel Bruce Bird cringing.


Andrew Randall  44:33

I mean, I think you know, the other thing to remember when you’re on a trainer, it’s it’s, what’s the word? It’s more concentrated, more not intense. That’s not the right word, but concentrated than riding outdoors. There’s no coasting, there’s no downhills, there’s no stop signs, there’s no lights, there’s no micro race bike. Like when your doing 40 minutes at tempo on the trainer, it’s like it’s like, “Oh, high yield,” Jeremiah says. Yeah, nice one, yeah. But yeah, so like, you know, is there isn’t these little micro breaks that you get outside when you do 40 minutes at tempo on the trainer, man, it’s like, you know, 40 minutes a tempo, it’s it’s solid. So it’s, it’s a bit different, right? It’s not not quite the same as riding outdoors.


Trevor Connor  45:12

Yeah, no, I agree. Sorry for our listeners, Bruce Bird is a fellow Torontonian who I swear every time I get on Zwift he’s on there. I’m not sure he ever gets off of it.


Andrew Randall  45:23

Well, he is Multi-Time Masters World Champion isn’t he?


Trevor Connor  45:26

Yes, he makes the big sacrifice. I actually looked at his profiles-


Andrew Randall  45:30



Trevor Connor  45:31

Foot measures your total time on swift and the number of pizza slices you burn, and I’m pretty sure Bruce keeps every pizza joint in Toronto in business.


Chris Case  45:41

We actually caught up with Bruce and talk to him about Zwift. Specifically, the fact that many users are “weight doping” to gain a competitive advantage in the races.


Zwift Training and Weight Doping

Bruce Bird  45:52

People get too caught up in it, in terms of the racing, and I see what Zwift is trying to do and engage so that the uh second tier teams to make it a racing and audience that to watch and, and that “E-racing” is a thing. And I don’t know where that’s going all met out. But it’s a great training tool like that, it’s awesome that way. So it just except, you know, we come to that point, and instead of, “Oh, I want to do better, you know, finish the races.” Okay, if you’re gonna cheat them, I don’t know. But people were taking their weight down, their height down during like doing finding whatever edge they could in doing things online. I guess it’s not surprising, if you list the history of the sport, and you know, some oh, and I hear people are like, oh, it’s only a couple of them, you know. I’m only doing a bit but everyone else is doing it. Yeah, I guess they are. But whatever.


Bruce Bird  46:58

I don’t know. I’m training, I know what I’m training for, and if I finished 20th or not, or if I finish, you know, on the podium, closer to the top in a race. That’s great. It’s fine either way, as long as I accomplished what I wanted to do in the race. And back, and it’s rarely fit in and sprint for a finish. That doesn’t give me a lot of satisfaction.


Trevor Connor  46:58

But you don’t?


Trevor Connor  47:26

Right and it didn’t really work out.


Bruce Bird  47:30

It didn’t work out. I’m there to have a, okay, let me see. if I could get a full fit for five minute, and in a race, let’s see, wow, let’s see what I can do. Let’s get that bad shot. It’s not great for like racing tactics, but what the heck, go for it, give it a shot.


Chris Case  47:47

Now back to the guys at the cycling gym. All right, let’s jump over to-to weekends. And you know it, I bet there’s a common theme out there where people think, oh I’m I didn’t get that much time during the week. It was dark, but I’ve got daylight. I’ve got, you know, I can be out during the warmest hours of the day on the weekend, I’m going to go out and I’m going to do my six hour ride. And I’m going to do it Saturday and Sunday, if I have the time for it. Is that the correct thing to be doing? Or is that? You know, a little bit too much. What what what should people be doing? On the weekends? What do you recommend?


How Athletes Should be Training on the Weekends

Steve Neal  48:23

I guess if you live up here, you’re lucky, you can go fat biking a lot, or cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or you can ride your bike. I really think that, you know, having a variety of things to do while you get in some volume is great. I think fresh air is almost needs to be a mandatory thing whenever possible. So if someone loves to ride in the winter, and has a lot of clothing and what not, I mean, go for it. I guess I always say everyone at the gym anyways is if you go if you go do something on your own, make sure it’s below 75% of your max heart rate. So whether it’s skiing or doesn’t really matter what they choose, but it’s it needs to be an endurance based activity or that’s going to really throw off this whole mixture that we were talking about the sort of Jeremiah has in his power profiles and Harvey profiles. So I don’t know. I- I love endurance riding. I think that if someone has has time and can go get more fresh air, and it’s actually an endurance training session, if they’re kind of doing what they might be doing Monday to Friday at the gym, then I think go for it. But I do think variety like, you know, there’s lots of really neat things about, you know, say say taking up biking in the winter. You don’t necessarily need a fat bike. There’s lots of groom trails and people ride regular mountain bikes with and without studs, and it’s amazing once you start riding in the winter, how much you appreciate what a good pedal stroke might be, trying to get up a hill that’s a little slippery. And so I think there’s a lot of benefits to trying different aspects of, of the sport of cycling. So you know, everyone thinks that only mountain bikers should fat bike. But why can’t cyclists just that bike and so yeah, lots of volume is okay as long as they’re able to I guess absorb it. Always think of trying to think of yourself as a sponge and whatever training load, you kind of pour into that sponge, make sure that you can wring it out and start over the next day, and start over the next day, I don’t think you want your sponge kind of pouring all over the counter.


Chris Case  50:33

Interesting analogy, I like that.


Steve Neal  50:35

So we talk about the sponge thing a lot, because some people can just handle more load and but you need to fine tune what that amount is. And that could be mental load of sitting on the trainer, it could be volume load of riding for six hours on your bicycle. Maybe you can handle three hard days a week. But at the end of the day, we’re all a sponge, we need to figure out, you know, how we can bring ourselves out?


Trevor Connor  50:58

What is your feeling. So it sounds like we’re on the same page here. I’m very big on in the winter, get out, get those long rides on the weekend. But keep it slow. And I know a lot of people who, especially in places like Colorado here or when I lived in Florida, you already have the group brides going in in December and January, and they’re going hard. And my feeling is at this time of year, that’s not the best approach, and it sounds like you’re you’re in full agreement. This is your chance to get that low intensity, keep the training polarized.


Steve Neal  51:34

Yeah, totally. Like if you, I think that’s like earlier, when I said I think people tend to mix different philosophies together. I just, it’s just not going to work if you try to mix too much hard training, you know, yeah, you just can’t do too hard interval sessions a week and then go out for a five hour group ride and and believe that to be, you know, beneficial. It’s just, it’s just going to be too hard, where the duration at a nice pace is very beneficial.


Fast Labs’ Camps

Trevor Connor  52:10

So Chris, we are growing. We’re expanding, we are no longer fast, just Fast Talk, we are now Fast Labs. That’s the new business, and part of the reason for the this different name is we want to offer camps here in Colorado, here in Boulder. And we are partnering with CU Sports Center. That is one of the top facilities in the world when it comes to bike fit, physiological testing, coaching, all these different services that are normally just reserved for the best of the best, the elite.


Chris Case  52:43

So if you’re as excited about these camps as we are, go to our website, Check us out, we have three camps in 2020. One, the last few days of April, first few days of May. One in June, and one in August. Check out enter fastlabs2020 as the discount code and receive $500 off a purchase at this performance experience training camp.


How To Make Training in the Winter More Enjoyable

Chris Case  53:23

One of the hardest things to do I think personally, personally, when you’re talking about more time on on trainers and dealing with low light and in cold temperatures is keeping the motivation high, keeping it enjoyable, so that you can get the proper training in and not lose the motivation and then get on the backfoot. So let’s talk a little bit about ways to make this all a bit more enjoyable. Who wants to start?


Trevor Connor  53:53

Well, I’ll throw something out that I really liked that you guys have this underlying message of there might be big sacrifices you can make that from a physiological standpoint might be better. But motivation is important, and keeping you mentally fresh into the season is important. And I still think about the the first coach I ever worked with. He had me doing 15 hours on the trainer in the winter, every week, and I was done. I was done by April, because that just mentally fried me, and it sounds like that has been an underlying theme with with your approach.


Jeremiah Groen  54:31

Yeah I think for myself working through the winter, the key thing in working with coaches is that it allows me to put the minimum amount of mental effort into my training, and so over the winter, you want to be as consistent as possible. But you don’t allow the exercise bucket to get larger mentally. So for me that’s been very important is to just do it consistently, but don’t really think about it too much, allow someone else to to manage the the planning.


Trevor Connor  55:04

Do you guys have tricks to make this all more enjoyable when it’s dark and nasty? When so one way I know that a lot of people like What’s your feeling about Zwift?


Professional Trainers’ Opinions on Zwift

Andrew Randall  55:15

I actually started using Zwift last year, I quite enjoyed it. You know, I like the fact that it’s, you know, mimicking running outside where you have to pay attention, you might have a workout to do, some tempo stuff, and you can go pick a nice, long hill to do it on. Which, you know, in Toronto, we don’t have any hills, so it has a real advantage like that. The gradient on the hill changes, you know, you can do some different courses. So just as you would riding outside, you need to pay attention, shift, maintain your cadence, you know, all the stuff you would do outside on a climb. You know, bringing inside onto onto a course on Zwift and yeah, I thought it was pretty good. I enjoyed it, adding that into the repertoire. You know.


Trevor Connor  55:57

Steve, you have any thoughts?


Steve Neal  55:59

I really like Zwift as well, I mean, I’ve I’ve used it before going away in the summer. I’m no, I’m as far from a superstar in a bicycle as it gets. But I, I go to this like stage race every April, and so we really don’t get to ride outside until we show up. And so I found the when I started adding, you know, lower RPM, actual climbing work, and Zwift, I felt a lot better when I got there, then just doing the same power in RPM, say on a trainer. So even with slopes. I did, like riding it, you know, I found I would stand more a little, it just was a bit more natural. I think the I think maybe the mistake made is if someone’s going to, you know, we’ve been talking a lot about having two focused interval sessions a week, maybe three if you’re a big sponge. But, I think sometimes people go on Zwift, and it’s fun, and you know, find means maybe riding a little faster and harder. But they might not replace one of their harder sessions. So I think Zwift is an awesome thing. I just think they have to remember that if they go really hard on Zwift, they need to drop one of their their hard workouts either the following week or earlier in the week.


Trevor Connor  57:07

Yeah, that would be my one key point. I’ve actually use Zwift a lot. Especially when I get home at seven o’clock at night and I wanna to do some interval work, it just makes it a little more enjoyable. But actually getting ready for this podcast this weekend, I did a three hour ride on Zwift there was a ton of snow outside and wanted to see how well I can control myself. So I ended up doing multiple group rides. The first one I joined the B group and next thing I knew I did 40 minutes right at threshold or above. So that wasn’t at all what I was planning. So I was like, okay, I will join one of these group rides, that says just the tempo ride and I joined the C group that said it was gonna ride at two watts per kilogram and I don’t think I ever dropped below 2.5. So that was also not what I wanted.


Steve Neal  57:53



Trevor Connor  57:55

Then I joined a third group ride and at the end of it I just changed the name of the ride to “that was one of the dumber things I’ve ever done”, so-


Steve Neal  58:04

Did you use your, did you use your boost feathers?


Trevor Connor  58:07

Uh, many times.


Andrew Randall  58:09

So I was gonna say one of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing actually is is mixing some Zwift rides and then you know, we’ve got a couple of sets of the inside ride rollers here at the gym. And so mixing up how I do my riding, you know. Sometimes I’ll do it on Zwift and then sometimes I’ll do it on the on the rollers, and I-I’m enjoying it, they seem to put the body under tension differently and it feels a bit differently how I sit on the bike. So, bit more variety that way has been has been good for me personally, mentally. And then you know something else that if I mean somebody at home who’s got a gym and bike setup that we’ve we’ve kind of done privately is mixing for longer sessions you know some riding with strength circuits. It’s a great way to pass a couple hours pretty quickly you know 10 minutes of endurance, 10 minutes of circuit training, 10 minutes of endurance, 10 minutes of circuit training, or whatever the combination may be. But that brings in another array of variety and interest and you can always change the circuit and you know, one week you can be doing tempo and circuits low cadence, tempo and circuits you know. Spinning you just, it just is another way to make it more interesting because the winter is long for sure.


How To Keep Training Mentality Fresh in the Dark Winter Months

Trevor Connor  59:25

Any other thoughts you guys have on when the when there’s no light and it’s it’s crappy outside things that you can do to make this all more enjoyable, to keep it mentally fresh?


Steve Neal  59:35

I think it’s possible to find like if you have a friend that’s you know, I do know some people that like to get together and do night rides. So get off work and instead of jumping on the train or whatever that once a week or every few weeks, I’ll actually do like a night, fat bike ride. So especially when the snows in the air it’s like, it’s super pretty in the headlights, you know. Going off the snowflakes and you just don’t notice the cold as much and you’re chatting to somebody who’s been out at work all day. So that’s another thing is maybe finding someone and maybe if you can’t do it every week, but every few weeks, get out in the fresh air, even in the dark, grab a headlamp, and, and, and meet someone at a set time. So you, you know, you don’t go, “Oh, I’m just gonna go do whatever.” So, you know, maybe finding someone else in a similar boat that you might be able to meet once in a while could help.


Trevor Connor  1:00:25

I think it’s a great idea. We used to when I lived in upstate New York, we used to do a night mountain bike ride every Tuesday night. So we’d all have the big lights on our mountain bike, and it was a lot of fun, and it kept you from doing anything high intensity, because you’re in the woods on a mountain bike in the dark, you don’t want to go fast.


Steve Neal  1:00:43

Very true.


Chris Case  1:00:48

Lennard Zinn is well, he’s Lennard Zinn. He’s a legend that needs no introduction. Author, bike builder, guru and a longtime VeloNews contributor, he’s an expert in bike technology. With the idea of riding in the dark in mind, it is important to be safe, Lennard has more to say on the subject.


Lennard Zinn on Riding in the Dark

Lennard Zinn  1:01:07

Yeah, you know, I have thought about this a lot, because I do ride some in the dark myself, and we talked about Tom Prehn. He’s got arsenal cycling, where he has this system where he has a bunch of flashing lights, and they all flash in synchronicity with each other, so that so that say you’ve got one down low on your bike, and you get one, say on your back, and maybe one on the back of your helmet. And if they’re synced with each other, then just like a pilot flying in and seeing a radio tower where all of the red lights are flashing at the same time, then he knows that that’s one thing. It’s not, it’s not there’s a flashing light of that thing, and there’s a flashing light that maybe is in front of it or behind it or whatever, if they’re all flashing at different times. So that his, his point, which is probably a great one is that you, you the driver automatically their eyes know, oh okay, that’s that’s one thing. That, that flashing thing moving along, there is one cyclist, it’s not a bunch of different things in an urban atmosphere, where there’s all these lights and all sorts of things going around. That, that allows us to pick it out and to avoid it. On the other hand, you know, Grant Peterson, you know, sort of is this iconoclast in the bike business who, who thinks about everything differently than, than everybody else. And, and wrote a book basically about, you know, people overthink everything about their bikes, and- but one of one of his, his points about lights is you don’t want flashing lights. Because if the ride, if the driver is drunk, the flashing light just makes there, it just attracts them and you’re naturally turned toward what you’re looking at and ends up steering right into the cyclist. And so if you if you’re counting on the on the drivers being sober and making a conscious decision, oh, there’s a cyclist, I can see the flashing lights are all lined up with each other. And I’m going to avoid that that’s one thing, as opposed to a drunk driver weaving all around and ahhh just swerving toward the toward the thing that attracts his attention. And the person who’s doing the riding might want to think about what time you know, if it’s 2am, maybe drunk drivers are more of an issue and you want a solid light ya know.


Chris Case  1:03:43

Sure, yeah. There’s a lot of things you could try to anticipate. But that would be next to impossible to get it right.


Lennard Zinn  1:03:50

If it’s in Toronto at 5pm, and it’s pitch dark, and you know, maybe these are on the ball people.


Chris Case  1:03:56

Now back to the guys at the cycling gym. One question I would bring into this is I feel like the original intent of and I can’t believe we haven’t mentioned this word yet cyclo-cross. The original intent of cyclo-cross was to give people an outlet of training outlet that was fun in these winter months where things were sloppier and, and you didn’t want to spend as much time on the bike. How can that maybe this is a too long of a discussion at this point, but how can you work that into a road racing season? If you back off the taking taking cyclo-cross a little less seriously, and using that as training, can that be done effectively?


Can Cyco-cross Be Done Effectively While Transitioning Into the Road Racing Season?

Steve Neal  1:04:40

I think that I mean, I think that’s an amazing idea. So whenever you can use real races, but hold yourself back a little bit, there’s the bike handling is just, it’s just different. There’s so many benefits to using races as intervals or interval replacements, as long as you hold back and keep that in mind, which is really about sort of checking your ego. The person actually got me into training a long time ago was eighth at the Olympics in cross country skiing in the 50K, and I spent an awful lot of time watching that person train and I trained-I trained with him a lot in the summer. And he was doing like 1,400 hours a year. And so I remember one weekend, he would do a 5k run next weekend, he would do a triathlon next weekend, he would do a road race and the variety of his intensity and his offseason was as much as he could possibly do. And so, you know, that’s really what you’re saying is, you know, you cyclo-cross, instead of doing seven by three minute intervals, or five by eight, or whatever it is, whatever it is you want to do, It’s just that it can’t, you need to be able to recover from it so that two days later, you feel like you could do another workout, and that’s hard for some people. But I think it’s really beneficial.


Chris Case  1:05:55

All of you are new to this, but very simple. You’ve got 60 seconds on the clock. We want you to encapsulate every great thing you’ve you’ve spoken about here today, and maybe even some more things and summarize. For the listeners out there the best take homes from the episode, take it away.


Steve Neal’s Take Home Message

Steve Neal  1:06:15

I think everyone should buy a sponge, and put that sponge where you can see it when you’re riding your trainer all the time, and, and be honest, and ask yourself how full it’s getting. I’ve never told that to anybody before. So they’re I’m new to the game, and that’s new for me, so that’s mine. That’s about 30 seconds.


Chris Case  1:06:33



Trevor Connor  1:06:34

I like it, Andrew?


Andrew Randall’s Take Home Message

Andrew Randall  1:06:35

Yeah, I think my big thing is really just this whole question of motivation is a big deal, man. Like, how many people do you see super motivated, they’re all pumped for next year, and then they and then they blow out, you know. So watch, watch your watch your motivation, and be honest with yourself about about where you’re at for the winter, you know.


Chris Case  1:06:55



Jeremiah Groen’s Take Home Message

Jeremiah Groen  1:06:57

For myself, I think the biggest thing is just to do more endurance than you think you should, end up being a bit bored, but it pays dividends in the end with regards to your motivation and overall willingness to actually want to go riding.


Chris Case  1:07:12

Trevor, what do you got?


Trevor Connor’s Take Home Message

Trevor Connor  1:07:13

When you’re stuck inside, especially if you’re in your own basement, if you’re trying to do tons of wor, I admire the motivation. But the question is, as you guys pointing out, is that motivation still going to be there in April and May? So I like that you keep it limited. I like that you boiled it down to what’s-what’s necessary, what’s most beneficial at this time of year, but remember that it’s December and keep it manageable. You still want to have that high motivation when the season comes around.


Chris Case  1:07:42



Trevor Connor  1:07:42



Chris Case’s Take Home Message

Chris Case  1:07:43

Yeah. And to that point, I think my my take home is variety is such an incredible thing. So if you can get on or get off your bike and do other stuff, that’s great. If you can get on to a different type of bike. That’s great. If you can run dare I say it, run a little bit. That’s awesome. Nordic ski, that’s great. All that variety will clear your mind a bit from from the training. It will help you in terms of that long term motivation. It helps you physically in so many ways that you probably don’t even realize, so that’s kind of the the crucial element for me during these these winter months is that variety.


Chris Case  1:08:30

That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play and many other podcast hosting sites. Please leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on Facebook On Twitter. Our handle is fast_labs_real, and on Instagram find our profile at Fast.Labs. Fast Talk is a joint production between VeloNews and Fast Labs LLC. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Andrew Randall, Steve Neal, Jeremiah, Erica Clevenger, Bruce Bird, Lennard and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening!