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Trainer vs. Rollers – How to Decide – Maghalie Rochette

Feedback Sports offers a variety of performance products to support your training and racing. We know every cyclist is different with varying needs and wants. Folks often reach out to ask us for our expertise and suggestions based on their individual situation. But why take our word for it when you can take that of an accomplished professional bike racer?

This blog comes from one of our supported athletes and Canadian Cyclocross National Champion, Maghalie Rochette. She addresses two age-old dilemmas: “outdoor elements vs. indoor training” and “trainer vs. rollers” and she does it with a clever 90’s rock reference.

Photo: Courtesy of Ten Speed Hero

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It’s no coincidence that Guns N’ Roses decided to name a song ‘November Rain’. November seems to bring a lot of rain, and more often than not it brings cold temperatures too.

As a cyclocross racer, weather is an element we have to take into consideration when planning the season’s training. It presents its own physical challenges and can certainly raise mental doubt too. Should I use that opportunity to go outside and practice my skills in the mud? Am I risking getting sick?  Can I do quality intensity work in sloppy and cold conditions or should I do that inside?

My experience is that there is no 100% right or wrong answers to those questions. Riding in the rain from time to time is essential to work on your skills for muddy cyclocross races and it can certainly boost your mental preparedness.

Some will say that riding in the rain builds character. But if you’re sick, no matter how much character you’ve got, how much good are you doing?

Riding outside in those conditions requires much more energy than doing the same training ride in good conditions, and that is not to be neglected…even Axel Rose said it: “It’s hard to hold a candle, in the cold November rain.” I’m pretty certain that when he wrote those lyrics, he meant it’s hard to keep the fire alive when riding in the cold November rain. All said, long rides in the wet and cold aren’t necessarily ideal.


It can be tempting to ride indoors when it’s cold and wet, but maintaining cyclocross skills for off-camber, loose terrain requires getting outside and practicing race scenarios. 
How do you keep your training effective without getting sick, without sacrificing your skills and without draining all your motivation?

Balance is the key! Personally, indoor cycling suits my interval training and short easy spins, and I save the outdoor riding for skills training and running workouts.  Intervals keep you engaged, which makes time pass quickly, even when riding inside. And for easy rides I like to watch a cyclocross race to “study” the racing – time well spent, no doubt.

When indoor training calls, trainer or rollers?  They both have their advantages and I use both in my cyclocross training. Below is a summary of my experience training and racing – I hope it helps you make the decision on which device fits your needs the best.


How to improve running for cyclocross? Run… When the weather turns sour, use that time to get outside and do the running that’s required come race day – it’s gonna happen, so be prepared.
Why I choose the Omnium Over-Drive Trainer

  • Small and compact: The foldable and compact design of the Omnium makes it very easy to travel with and carry around. (I usually travel with it as my carry-on item in the plane!)
  • Stability: The Omnium trainer is super stable. That allows me to easily pedal without hands and do high-intensity intervals without concentrating on balance.
  • Standing on the bike: Intervals can be done at maximum effort, even while standing, with full confidence that I’m supported and I don’t have to focus on anything but doing the work.
  • Progressive resistance: The harder I work, the more the trainer works against me, simple. If I go easy, it won’t put up a fight. That’s an awesome feature that allows me to do all-out intervals without running out of gears, but also allows me to spin easy when I need to recover. Having that progressive resistance is ideal for warm-up and cool-down efforts at the races.
  • Smooth and natural: The feeling of pedaling on the Omnium is smoother and more realistic than any other trainer I’ve ridden, but not quite as natural as when riding the rollers.

Why I choose the Zero-Drive Rollers

  • Natural, smooth feeling: As much as I enjoy the Omnium, rollers allow my bike to move like it does when I’m riding outside and there’s something nice about that. You can spin the legs quickly and easily and, in my opinion, time seems to pass a little quicker on rollers.
  • Balance/Skills: The natural movement on the rollers opens up opportunities to work on skills and balance even when riding inside. (For example: one leg pedaling, working on cadence, one hand, no hands, etc.)
  • Standing: You can stand up on the rollers, but you have to be careful. All-out standing sprints on rollers is a bit precarious. I’m typically standing only to change position for comfort.

*When riding rollers, having a bench or wall nearby can make getting on and off a lot easier and something you’ll appreciate if you’re                 new to the free-floating design.


Training is for building fitness and visualizing success – the opportunity to ride indoors on a trainer means your attention is free to explore pain, breathing techniques, and creating mental images of the win. 
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what works best to maintain happiness, motivation, fitness and skills.

It also helps to have an outside opinion when making those decisions – someone who will be more rational and less emotional. I rely on my coach, David Gagnon, because I know he has the big picture in mind and that he’ll make the most educated decisions.

When it’s all set and done, crank out some Guns N Roses on your speakers and get pumped for those intervals – bring on the November Rain! I promise, you’ll have a good time 😉

 

Note: The Omnium trainer is also available as a resistance-free Zero-Drive Omnium complete trainer, or Zero-Drive sled add-on for your existing Omnium Overdrive – ideal for track cyclists, BMX, or an easier warm-up/cool-down at the races. 

 

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Race-Day Warm-up with Amanda Nauman

Though we all know that warm-legs are fast legs… it’s can be hard to know where to begin. You might wonder, “Should I use a bike trainer or rollers?” How hard should I go before a race?”, “For how long?”, “Should I do intervals?”, “Why is my skinsuit so tight?”, “Is my number pinned properly?”.  While we can’t really help you with the last two questions, we did find some experts to share what works for them in terms of the first four.

We asked our friends, David Sheek (Carmichael Training Systems Coach) and Amanda Nauman (known to friends and the cycling community as “Amanda Panda”) of Team SDG – Muscle Monster for some general preparation tips and a warm-up plan to help anyone maximize their race-day potential.

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~From Amanda and Dave~

Our friends at Feedback Sports have really stepped up the game with a solid range of traveling goodies that are also amazing products to have in any garage. Whether traveling to Europe or chasing events around the United States, Feedback has made it easier to be prepared at home and on the road. A few of our favorites are the Team Edition Tool Kit, Omnium Portable Trainer, and Sprint Work Stand which all fit into the bottom of our cases for travel.

Being Prepared: Pre-Event Warm-up

A pre-event warm-up is designed to increase muscle core temperature, start the body’s cooling processes, and activate energy systems. Here’s a step-by-step guide to activating your body for a great performance using the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer.

Warm-up

It’s pretty common for a warm-up routine to be 45-60 minutes. You need to spend some time at lactate threshold and throw in a few high-intensity efforts to activate the processes related to producing and processing lactate, but you want to do as little as possible to achieve those goals. A generic warm-up includes 15-25 minutes of spinning, 5-10 minutes at LT, and two 1-2 minute VO2 max efforts. Variations of that will typically get the job done. A long warm-up is likely to generate more heat so weather and other variables are taken into consideration.

The nature of your event also plays a role in your warm-up. If your event is going to start out relatively slow, like a road race, then you can minimize the warm-up activities. If the event is going to start hard, like a cyclocross race, then it’s important to activate your energy systems and lactate processing systems.

Variations on the Weather

There is a fine line between activating your body for a great performance and hurting your performance through overheating in your warm-up. After warming up some higher energy systems, your muscle temperature and core temperature are elevated and primed to race. In warmer temperatures it is recommended to cool down for about 10 minutes before going to the start line to avoid any chances of overheating. In cooler temperatures it is recommended to add clothing layers and maintain that elevated core temperature en route to the start line.

Go to the Start Line

If you’re going to be standing on the start line for a long time before you start, as is often the case with cyclocross races, you’re going to be standing still. In this scenario, try to go to the line wearing enough clothing or layers to stay warm. Plan to hand your clothing off to someone with a few minutes to the whistle.

The focus on staying warm during and after a riders’ warm-up routine pays off because you will be ready for action right from the start. Keeping your core temperature at an optimal level enables you to start faster, get to the front of the race, and stay there.

Taking the proper steps to activate all your energy systems through a proper warm-up, all starts with the right trainer routine. It’s difficult to find an event that allows for sufficient open road to correctly hit the warm-up zones that your preparation requires. Traveling with the Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive guarantees the freedom to create and execute a routine around an ideal warm-up that will set you up physically and mentally for success.

Time CTS Zone Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 10-Point Scale
10 min Endurance Miles (EM) 4-5
2 min Tempo 6
2 min EM 4-5
2 min Tempo 6
2 min EM 4-5
2 min Steady State (SS) 7-8
2 min EM 4-5
2 min SS 7-8
2 min EM 4-5
1 min Climbing Repeat (CR) 8
2 min EM 4-5
30 sec Power Interval (PI) 9
2 min EM 4-5
30 sec PI 9
5-10min EM 4-5
Off Trainer – Head to Startline
10 min Active Cooling 2-4

*Amanda is currently rocking the cyclocross and gravel scene. She and David clearly know a thing or two about race-day preparation. Thanks for the tips, David and Amanda!  We’ll see you (and your Feedback Sports Race Day Essentials) at the Cyclocross Nationals in Kentucky! #pandapower

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The Feedback Cup (a.k.a. Our Version of the World Series)

It’s just about here.  Do you hear it? Listen!  In the dusty Colorado distance you can hear the ringing of cowbells and sizzling of bacon–all in preparation for the 4th Annual Feedback CUP!!! That’s right.  THIS Saturday (November 5th) is the big day! And while the history of this race might not go back to…oh, say that of the World Series (go Cubs!)  we still think it’s pretty special.  It is our World Series, so to speak. It’s therefore fitting to continue with that comparison for this blog.

History:

The inception of the World Series goes back to 1903 (although it began as early as 1884).  The first Feedback Sports Cup was in 2013 but our cyclocross racing spirit goes back years before that. Race director, Lee Waldman elaborates on the course and its race history, “When I was with Red Rock Velo we were looking for a new venue.  At that time, my wife (Caren) was the director at Lookout Mtn. Youth Services Center and she offered the venue to us.  We took it and ran with it.  At first it was just a stand alone weekend event and then about 5 or 6 years ago Chris McGee, who was Executive Director of BRAC at the time, came to me with the idea of a mid-week series.  That’s how B2B began.”

In 2013 Feedback Sports decided to piggy-back on this stellar course.  But faced the challenge of keeping the course fresh.  With Lee’s direction and the input from our team and community, we were able to pull it off and have been doing so ever since.

Home Field Advantage: 

Any sports aficionado knows the home field advantage is not a myth. Did we build our office specifically to be within a mile of this course?  Of cour-hor-hor-ourse not. (…awkward silence…) That would be silly (voice rises several octaves).  But Feedback Sports owner/founder, Doug Hudson admits, “The Feedback Cup is great because it’s in our hometown of Golden–about 1 mile from the office.  Our Feedback Sports racing team (and race director/team-mate Lee Waldman) puts a lot of time into making sure the race runs smoothly. The Feedback Cup course is staple on the local CX scene as it also hosts a Wednesday night series (late August through mid-October) in addition to our race so we are very familiar with all the sections. My favorite part of the day is seeing some of my neighbors come out to see what cyclocross racing is all about.”

This year’s course: 

Want to know what to expect this year?  The course is open to pre-ride, but for those of you who can’t make it, Lee’s added a few new features this year to keep things interesting. “The differences may be minor, but people who ride the B2B series will notice. The climbs are a bit different, some of the turns have different turning radiuses and slightly changed entries and exits,” says Waldman.  He adds,  “There’s a balance between technically challenging sections, more flowing pedaling sections and sections that require riders to be strategic in line choice, tire pressure, etc.  It’s turny, and technical, physically challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time.  I ride it at least 2 to 3 times a week and never get bored.” (Home fiellllllllllld advannnnnnnnnntage.)

The Die-Hards:  

Like the World Series, the Feedback Cup brings the heat when it comes to enthusiasm. Whether it’s the racers, the fans, co-sponsors, our announcer (Larry Grossman) or the food vendors, you can be sure everyone brings their A-game.

 

A prime example of this would be Feedback Sports racer (and in-house engineer) Will Allen. You can find him leading sunrise laps Wednesday mornings, riding the course at lunch and working on the course over the weekend.  Will loves racing cross, but it ties into his day-job more than one might think. “Racing gives me the opportunity to observe how consumers are truly using our products.  This helps push improvements to current products and can also drive developing new products, offering a solution to a problem we didn’t know existed.”

When asked what Will’s favorite part of the course he replied in true engineer fashion, “The section a little before, then through, and after the stairs.  Not sure how else to describe it.  I could answer this question better with a picture or GPS coordinates.”  We’ll settle for the course-preview video, Will (coming soon).

**SEVENTH INNING STRETCH.  Get up from your monitor, (or put your phone down) and sing along with the legendary Bill Murray.

The Sponsors: 

Fun World Series fact to wind things down: before the era of championship rings, triumphant players took home…timepieces. That’s right–as in pocket watches. We won’t be giving either of these items out to race winners, but we will have equal pay-outs, and a TON of other cool things. For the second year, all pre-registered racers will be entered to win an Omnium portable trainer.  Winner will be chosen Friday morning and presented their Omnium at the race on Saturday.

John Shearer from Finish Line / White Lightening has been instrumental in making this year’s race-day prize list better than ever! Spot Bicycles has graciously provided a Rallye frame set to raffle off on race day.  Crank Brothers has given us almost $5000 worth of product.  Jinji Cycles and Golden Bike shop are going to be on site providing technical support. We’d also like to give a special shout-out to The Amy D. Foundation.  As Lee Waldman noted, “They’ll be there on race day and simply thinking about who they are and why they exist reminds us of Amy’s dedication to the sport. And that’s a gift.”

In closing, we hope to see you there.  It would really mean…THE WORLD to us (sorry, couldn’t resist).

 

 

 

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2016: Mud, Snow, Bacon and Magic!

Every year around this time, most people are getting ready to wrap things up.  For many of us, the new year holds an air of undefined, magical promise.  We set goals, we plan trips, we make resolutions, and we delight in wondering what 2016 may bring! But for those of us who adhere to the cyclocross calendar, this is when the record skips.  Yes, 2015 may be wrapping up, but the cyclocross season will not be dismantled, boxed up and put away until January 10th, 2016. That Sunday marks the end of Cx Nationals, and therefore is what we like to think of as “the proper end” to the year.

 

We don’t make the rules.  We just ride by them. If you really want to argue the validity of the cyclocross calendar, take it up with USAC–where if you have a December birthday, your “cross age” is 2 years older than you really are for the majority of the racing season.  It’s a little “Alice in Wonderland”-crazy. One could make the comparison that it’s just as crazy as the mud and snow we ride in or the people who give bacon hand-ups while heckling words of encouragement.  We embrace that sort of crazy with open arms.

 

All of us at Feedback Sports consider ourselves very lucky in that our work often coincides with where and how we like to play. So next week when the rest of the world is coming back from winter break and “going back to work”, we will be at Cx Nationals in Asheville, NC.  And if you guessed that we’re a little bit excited, you’d be right.  Even more so than usual. Because in addition to racing, this year we’re the official USAC Trainer Sponsor! Click here to witness our excitement. 

This means we’ve assembled and boxed up 40 or so of our newest product–the Omnium Portable Trainer to introduce it to our cyclocross family. Well, really the Omnium’s lead product engineer, Will Allen did all the work. We mostly watched and offered to hold the tape gun, but that’s beside the point. The point is, they are on their way right this minute!!  On Monday we’ll be setting them up and getting them ready for anyone and everyone that wants a proper race warm-up!

If you’re going to Nationals, you HAVE to come by the warm-up tent and say ‘hello’.  It’s a rule–you read it, you have to do it.  Plus we’ve packed treats. And even though you may be “treated-out” after the Holidays, everyone knows that 4 days into the “normal non-cx calendar year” means it’s okay to eat things like that again. If you aren’t attending Nationals, don’t fret.  We’ll have a social media presence that will rival Ryan Seacrest in Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve.

You won’t miss a thing.  Including the Omniums.  Sure the attendants in Asheville will get quite a sneak preview, but ask your local bike shop right around that time and chances are they’ll have one you can “ooooh and ahhh” over. And trust us.  That’s exactly the response you’re likely to have.  Riding the Omnium is like nothing you’ve felt before…except perhaps riding your own bike on the road. Precisely how we designed it.

And though we adhere to the cyclocross calendar, we also acknowledge the “traditional (albeit, less fun) calendar” as well.  We wish you a very Happy New Year from everyone here at Feedback Sports and hope some of that magical promise comes to fruition in 2016!!

Yep.

 

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Feedback Sports Field Tests the Omnium

If you’re reading this blog right now, chances are you love bikes just like we do.  You might even race (just like we do).  In fact, some of us here race quite fast; you may have heard our western sales manager’s name (Tim Allen) being called out at Cx races. But what you might not know is that Feedback Sports also sponsors a local racing team with around 40 people.

van sky end of race

Within our team, we have quite a variety. The ages range from 12-65, and the racing style of choice is just as broad.  We have BMX, XC Mtb, DH, Enduro, Cx and even a few who race via their daily commute.  There are many benefits to having a team: one of the more obvious is that we always have great people to ride and race with. But from a company stand point, this gives us the opportunity for plenty of field testing.  We’ve appreciated our team’s instant input on our storage items, our wash and work stands and now…the Omnium trainer.

Since we’re about half-way through the Cx season, we thought we’d focus on how the Omnium has worked it’s way into our team’s season so far with two of our fastest members.

Let’s start with our aforementioned western sales manager, Tim Allen.  Tim races at a national level in both single-speed and the men’s open/elite.  Tim has been with Feedback Sports for 4 years but racing for 5. And it’s possible that with each year, he’s gotten faster. Here’s a little peek inside Tim’s world from his most recent personal blog:

“I’m trying to find a balance. A life balance that inspires ikigai – the Japanese concept meaning, “a reason for being”. Ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day stress, but enjoying life and living it to the fullest is essential to finding ikigai. Raising a family, working 8-5, and racing cyclocross creates quite the hectic schedule. It’s challenging and rewarding at the same time.”

Tim and Everett

He must be doing a pretty good job at this since within the last few weeks, he won the local 3 day “Cx of the North” Omnium race and last weekend placed 9th at the US Open of CX in Boulder, finally earning a UCI point. Tim credits his family, his job, his sponsors, and his racing community as strong contributors to his success.  And…coincidentally, a product he’s gotten to know quite well from work: the Omnium.

“I thought it was ironic that warming up on the new Omnium Trainer was vital to my success in winning the Omnium at Cross of the North. I’ve never really been much of a “trainer/roller” guy much less a “warm up/cool down” guy. When you have a trainer as smooth and easy as the Omnium, there is no excuse not to! It folds up smaller than my duffle bag and weighs less than 14lbs. It utilizes a rear wheel roller platform that easily adjusts to any wheel base and will accommodate essentially any fork mount on the market! With our universal fork mount and the free floating roller platform, you don’t need to have any balance – so that gives me some time to keep trying to find mine!

The internal progressive resistance is a magnetic system that is built into the rollers and is unlike anything else on the market. As you increase wattage, the resistance gets harder – it’s about as close to riding the road without the actual road. Needless to say, I was thoroughly warm for all 3 race starts. Cooling down afterwards, with a cold one and my son was the best way to cap off the weekend! I’m pretty sure I’ve found my ikigai…”
Tim racing in grass Tim and Danny S

Now let’s move onto a female power-house on the Feedback Sports team: Caitlyn Vestal. Caitlyn races in the women’s open/elite category and has had a smashing season thus far. When asked about her success, it seems like she is channeling ikigai as well.

caitlyn racing

“I have surprised myself (a little, because I work really freaking hard!) with my results this year. I knew that I felt strong but getting podium at UCI races is the break I have been waiting for. I don’t have a coach- I have been racing since I was 13 and it seems I finally have the years, miles and experience in my legs to get the results I know I am capable of. I work full time with a long commute, so being able to race and work and get these results has been really gratifying.”

Caitlyn is the very definition of someone you would want representing your company out on the bike.  Sure, she’s very, very fast.  But she’s also positive, helpful, kind and enigmatic.  Recently we got the chance to send Caitlyn to race Charm City Cx with the Omnium.

“Racing in Baltimore for Charm City cross was awesome because I grew up in Pennsylvania. I ran into tons of friends from the past when I was racing full time in the mid Atlantic region and abroad. I felt great but had to dig deep because I got in at 2 AM Friday night and then had to race all out Saturday and Sunday. I had a 4th row call up so it took a ton of energy to power up to the front of the group and then keep pushing so I didn’t lose any spots. Very pleased with my results and so happy to hear people cheering for me out there.”

How does Caitlyn like the Omnium? It’s safe to say that if she is racing, you’ll see her warming up and cooling down on the Omnium, just like she did when she got 4th place both days at the recent US Open of CX in Boulder.

caitlyn warming up caitlyn flowers

“The Omnium is a fantastic trainer. So much more easy than having to take your rear wheel off. Feels more stable. The front of my bike is upright without the extra typical front wheel holder. Not to mention that it’s so easy to transport! Everyone who sees it loves it.”

What’s next for Ms. Vestal? Between now and Nationals, (in addition to the local CO races) Caitlyn will be traveling to CX LA (November 20-22nd). 

“My main goal has just been to get more UCI points, since I started the season with just 2. Recent UCI results will help me have a good start spot in nationals, which I’d like to place top 10 in. I have been setting goals as I go and when a race goes well I ask myself “Okay, what’s next?” I have had great support from the CX community, our team and my husband and friends/family.”

Watch out for both Caitlyn and Tim (and the rest of our small, but mighty Feedback Sports team) at the races, on the trails and the road.  And feel free to ask any one of of us (sporting the red arrow) about any of our products and we’ll sing like birds.

Tim Omnium podium

*The Omnium will be available in January 2016 (perhaps just in time for CX Nationals).  Ask your local bike shop to pre-order you one today!