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The Warm-Up: A Critical Start (with Maghalie Rochette)

Cyclocross is an intense sport, requiring 100% effort from the starting gun through the finish tape. For nearly an hour we ask our body to respond to the constant balance of effort and recovery and this requires preparation. So when it comes to warm ups you may be left wondering: How long? How intense? What should I be trying to accomplish? When to start and finish your warm up? What does a ‘cross warm-up look like?

Explore the answers to these questions with Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Superstar (and recently crowned Canadian and Pan-Am Games Champion) Maghalie Rochette. 

Why Do We Need to Warm Up? 

MR: The main goal of the warm-up is to prepare your mind and body for the demands of a race. Your routine should be long and intense enough to warm you up, but not wear you down. Cyclocross races start really fast, so you need to work hard enough in the warm-up so that when the starting gun goes off your body isn’t left in complete shock. 

I like the warm up to feel like it “opens up” my legs, lungs and heart so my body is ready and accustomed to the effort when the race starts. There’s a textbook of physiology going on in the warm-up, and although I’ll spare those details the objective is to feel like you’re ready to hit the front and stay there!

How Do You Prepare Your Mind?

I find that the warm-up is also a time to get into a good mental space – a time to get into your own bubble and get acquainted with (and enjoy) the effort that’s coming. I listen to music when I warm up. I have a few different playlists with different kinds of music, depending on the mood I need to be in. Sometimes races call for being aggressive and sometimes you simply need to smile and have fun. Either way, I listen to music that makes me happy and find this will get my mindset where I want it to be.  

This is also a good time for visualization. I do pre-rides of the course earlier in the day. David and I find the most challenging points in the course during this recon and my warm-up is a good time to recall these strategic points and what’s needed to perform at my best.

The mix of physical and mental preparation is what truly makes up a warm-up routine!

David is the coach, the mechanic, and the guy who makes it all happen – setting up the trainer is part of the deal!

 

Does the Weather Affect Your Warm-Up? 

MR: The basic structure of my warm-up does not change, though I do adapt it depending on the temperature, or other factors that may affect how I feel. For example, I don’t deal well with extremely warm weather. I tend to over-heat very quickly, so I have to be meticulous when racing in the heat. If it’s hot outside, I’ll change my warm up drastically. 

One of the things I’ll do differently on a hot day is that I’ll skip the trainer and will instead find a road to warm up on – the wind in my face is refreshing. I’ll also shorten my warm up and often I will even skip the “build up to threshold”. I may just go out to spin and do a few short sprints with full recovery between each to make sure my legs are opened up, but that my heart rate doesn’t get too high. It’s difficult to bring your heart rate down in the heat, so there is no reason to bring it up super high before the race starts.

Alternatively, the trainer is amazing when the temperature is really cold! That refreshing breeze from riding the road isn’t so refreshing anymore!  

Fatigue – does your training plan affect your warm-up?

While I won’t divulge the details of my training, there is an ebb and flow to a season’s preparation. Fatigue happens. Fresh legs happen. Some days you feel great, and others you don’t. I remember at the 2018 Bern World Cup, I started my warm up and my legs felt sluggish.  That particular day in Switzerland I felt like the best strategy was to diminish the intensity of the warm up. I did the same routine, but I turned it down 10%. Turns out it was the right call, because I felt amazing during the race. 

There are days where the best way to deal with heavy legs is to do a few solid efforts, and then you start feeling better. Other times, I know my legs are tired, so I just decide to spin easier for a longer period of time before I start the efforts. Pay attention to where you are in your training to decide which is better. 

Unfortunately there is no magic, pro cyclocross racer, top-secret solution to this problem. Making the right call takes time and experimentation and every rider at the start line of a World Cup has gone through the process of refining their most effective routine.

The best advice I could give is to record everything in your training log afterwards. You can write how you felt during the warm up, how you decided to adapt your typical warm-up, and how you felt in the race afterwards. Trial and error is your best friend…

The Details – Give Us the Specifics!

I like to keep my warm-up pretty short. 

During a race day I’ll probably ride on the course 2-3 times, which amounts to about 30-45min of riding time before I actually start the warm-up. I think it’s important to keep that in mind when creating your routine…you don’t want to end up riding two hours before your race has even started (especially if you only train an hour at a time).

Traveling to Europe for a World Cup campaign means we do without a lot of our conveniences, like a warm-up tent!

 

Here’s what my typical cyclocross pre-race warm-up looks like: 

**I do this warm up on the Feedback Sports Omnium trainer. I prefer the Over-Drive version, because it offers progressive resistance the harder you go. This allows you to pedal hard without spinning out. We have some competitors who use the Zero-Drive, and some who use both, depending on where they are in their training!

10 minutes easy

5 minute build up (from tempo to a little over race pace)

2 minutes easy

3 x 30 second build up (from race pace to fast)

2 min easy

Immediately after I finish the trainer session I eat a gel with caffeine. At the start grid and I do one quick start of about 5 seconds. That short sprint is also an opportunity to finalize your starting gear.

I feel like this warm up (less than 25 minutes total) is enough to open me up, but it doesn’t leave me fatigued.

Practice Makes Perfect

As I mentioned, we are all different, so my warm-up routine may not work for you. However, I encourage you to find one that you like and practice it in training to see how it makes you feel. I’ve done the same warm up for the last 7 years, so I know this one works for me. It can get boring to do always the same thing, but at the same time, it brings tranquility and confidence. My body knows this effort and my mind is confident this is getting me ready to perform. 

 

Thanks Maghalie! If you’re unsure of whether to use a trainer or rollers check out Maghalie’s article on that very subject. If you’d like to get to know David Gagnon, Maghalie’s coach, partner, and mechanic a bit better read this quick Q&A here.

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The Omnium at the Spring Classics

Feedback Sports is thrilled to be supporting several Pro World Tour Road teams for 2017; Lotto Soudal and Trek-Segafredo.  Picture bike geeks like us, at the Spring Classics, watching the mechanics prep the racers with our products.  It’s quite a nerdy sight to behold.  Right this minute, in fact, Feedback Sports is excitedly shadowing Team Lotto Soudal at the 52nd edition of Tirreno-Adriatico.  This is the first season that the Omnium portable trainers are officially in use with our Pro World Tour Road teams. It’s as if our child graduated as valedictorian and is off to the Ivy Leagues (only with bikes…or holding up bikes and racers and…you get the picture).

Below is the press release from our friends at Lotto Soudal showcasing the race along with some pictures from day one.  Enjoy!

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The 52nd edition of Tirreno-Adriatico takes place from 8 March 2017 till 14 March 2017. In seven stages, the riders will cruise through the Italian landscape. This year, the punchers and the climbers will get a few opportunities to win a stage, but also the time trialists are getting a chance of a stage win.

Just like last year, the Tirreno starts with a team time trial of 23 kilometres in Lido di Camaiore. The second stage is the longest of this edition with 228 kilometres. The largest part is flat but there is a steep climb at the end. Day three is an opportunity for the sprinters. Because of the slight uphill road it’s not guaranteed there’s going to be a bunch sprint, a puncher can win too.

The fourth stage will be very important for the GC. There’s a monstrous climb at the end of the stage on an altitude of 1.675 metres. The fifth stage seems ideal for the punchers but you can’t write the climbers off for the win. The sprinters will get their chance the day after. This Italian race ends with an individual time trial of ten kilometres on a flat course.

Lotto Soudal will participate with Tim Wellens, Maxime Monfort and Tiesj Benoot among others. The competition for the overall victory will come from riders such as Michal Kwiatkowski, Nairo Quintana, Tejay van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot and Bauke Mollema. The atypical winner of last year, Greg Van Avermaet also participates.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We have a team to ride a great Tirreno-Adriatico. We got for example Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens who are in great shape. There are some possibilities to achieve a nice result. We have two opportunities with Tiesj and Tim and two  with Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts. The big goal of this Tirreno is to conquer a stage win. We are going into the Tirreno to give everything we’ve got. We are not going to hide somewhere in the peloton. The Lotto Soudal team cannot do that every stage but we are picking up where we left off in the Strade Bianche.”

“The stages are similar to previous editions, so we know as a team what to expect. Just like last year we start with a team time trial. I belief we have a team to aim for the top five, that would be amazing. Day two is a course where Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot can exploit their abilities. There are hills and climbs on the route and the finish is uphill. It’s not very steep so we can definitely battle for the victory this day.”

“Day three is a sprint stage so we are going to take our chances with Jens and Jürgen. Day four is the toughest stage with a long steep climb. There is no plan yet for this stage. We are going to wait and see how, for example Tim Wellens, stands in the GC to defend his chances. During the fifth stage there is another chance for Tim and Tiesj. There is another steep uphill climb at the finish where they can exploit their abilities. Day six is also a sprint stage, thus a chance for Jens and Jürgen. We end the Tirreno-Adriatico with an individual time trial on a flat course.”

“Except for the big mountain stage we have more than enough chances to go for a stage win. The team is so strong that we can divide the pressure without one person getting all the pressure on his shoulders. That puts the riders at ease.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Nikolas Maes, Tomasz Marczynski, Maxime Monfort, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Bart Leysen.

Stages

Stage 1 Wednesday 8 March : Lido Di Camaiore – Lido Di Camaiore (TTT) (22.7 km)
Stage 2 Thursday 9 March: Camaiore – Pomarance (228 km)
Stage 3 Friday 10 March: Monterotondo Marittimo – Montalto Di Castro (204 km)
Stage 4 Saturday 11 March: Montalto Di Castro – Terminillo (187 km)
Stage 5 Sunday 12 March: Rieti – Fermo (209 km)
Stage 6 Monday 13 March: Ascoli Piceno – Civitanova Marche (168 km)
Stage 7 Tuesday 14 March San Benedetto Del Trono (ITT) (10.5 km)

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Track Racing with Lucas Clarke

With the USA Masters Track National Championships in full swing (Indianapolis) and those “games” currently happening in a country that rhymes with “trio”, we figured it’s the perfect time to talk about track racing. We’ll admit that we’re a bit fuzzy on this subject, so we asked one of our favorite local track racers (and avid Omnium user) Lucas Clarke to tell us a bit about it. Read below as Lucas demystifies all things track to this company of commuters, roadies, Cx racers and MTB aficionados.

velodrom-omnium_1058-Border

  1. Name / Team / Years racing:  Lucas Clarke / Primal-Audi Denver / 9 years racing, Cat 2 on the Road, Track, Cat 3 Cyclocross.
  2. Your favorite race: My favorite race on the Track is the Individual Pursuit which is a 4k time trial on the track.  You vs. the clock, all out for 4000 meters.
  3. How do you integrate the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer into your training and racing? It’s virtually impossible to find a stretch of road anywhere near my house to do 3-5 minutes sprint efforts holding 900-1100 watts safely.  Those are the bursts you need for road and track racing. With the Omnium I can do that in my basement before the sun event comes up–no cars, no stoplights. On race days at the track, you’re parking and walking, juggling your bike, your bag, all your gear, etc. The Omnium just makes it all easier.
  4. Top Speed on the track: My top speed at Track Nats this year was 40.3 mph.
  5. What’s up with those brakes? What brakes? We don’t need brakes. It makes the racing simple, fast and a bit dangerous (cue Kenny Loggins).
  6. How long do you have to track stand on that one race? The match sprint is notorious for the awesome track stands.  You try and out fox the other sprinter to get them to lead you out and then make your JUMP.
  7. What are your gear ratios and how often do you changes throughout the races and why? I typically like to run smaller gears in the Points race (where the speed is often going up and down a lot) 50 x 14 (96.4 gear inches) and for more steady tempo races like the Scratch race I run a larger gear, 53 x 14 (102.2 gear inches).  You want to be able to spin and get  “on top” of the gear without destroying your legs.
  8. Do you ever get dizzy and/or have you thrown up during a race? Not really, you really get in the zone by following the black and red lines and you immerse yourself into the race.
  9. Track racing seems so “dignified”.  Do you extend the courtesy of saying “on your left” when you pass during a race? All passing on the track should come on your right, passing on the left is only allowed if you are above the blue line.  This keeps the races safe so no one is pushing you off the black line (sprinters line).
  10. So…no? No.

We’d like to congratulate Lucas on another solid season of track racing. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter for more fast (and slightly dangerous) bike action. Picture everything above come Fall but add a Cx bike…and brakes…and take away the track. 

Related links: 

*Intentional vagueness of the intro sentence can be attributed to Rule #40 and Coca Cola.

 

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Tour de France 2016

As we’ve mentioned before, our company lives by a somewhat “less than traditional” annual calendar.

  • The new year starts after Cyclo-Cross Nationals.
  • Spring arrives the day of the Paris-Roubaix.
  • Summer technically rolls in with the kick-off of the Tour de France.
  • Fall is Interbike (and Cross Vegas).
  • It’s officially “winter” when Omnium lunch-rides become the norm.

So here we are at the summer and the beginning stages of the most exciting event to cycling fanatics around the world. Here at Feedback Sports, we’re doubly invested in that all of us  fall into the “cycling fanatics” category, but we also look at this as the best product field-testing in the Universe.

We are fortunate enough to partner with four world-tour cycling teams–all of which will be at this year’s TDF; Tinkoff, Trek-Segafredo, Lotto-Soudal and IAM Cycling. Attending the Tour gives us a chance to connect with the team directors, mechanics and racers. We see them using our products with an almost super-human speed and elegance. We get to see our products being put to the test in some of the harshest conditions.  It also allows us to spot trends and get inspiration for new products. But don’t take my word for it.

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I was able to corner Doug Hudson (Feedback Sports founder/president) for a quick interview before he left for the TDF to see it through his eyes.  And I do mean “quick” because Doug is an engineer by trade and quite efficient (so it will only take you about 30 seconds to read it).
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Q: How many years have you/Feedback Sports attended the TDF?
A: This will be the 3rd year.

Q: What’s it like being in the pits with the mechanics?
A: I like watching their efficiency.  Typically there are two mechanics washing bikes and two mechanics checking and tuning the bikes.  With 9 racers there are up to 27 bikes to wash and maintain each day.  3 bikes for each rider (one on each of the two team cars and the one being ridden).

Q: Tell us about the crowds.
A: The crowds are impressive in shear size and enthusiasm.  The climbs are the craziest, but each town the tour goes through usually has a Jumbotron showing the race and a party atmosphere.

Q: Favorite stage:
A: The Mt Ventoux stage should be epic!  We were able to ride Mt Ventoux last summer, so I can’t wait to see what happens in the race up it.

Q: Most memorable TDF story/experience:
A: In 2014, Lisa (Doug’s wife and co-founder of Feedback Sports) and I got to ride in the team cars of IAM Cycling.  As huge Tour fans, it doesn’t get any better than this; seeing the peloton up close, listening to race radio and hearing the team tactics from the Sport Directors.  It’s amazing how good the drivers are at dealing with all the chaos around.  Descending at 50+ MPH with racers and fans all over the place takes some serious skill.

Q: How will this year be different from previous trips?
A: This is our first time in the Pyrenees so we are excited to check out the famous climbs like the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aspin.


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See? Told you. Fast and efficient.

We’ve got some fun things planned for the next few weeks.  As the Tour gets rolling there will be a few contests (Tinkoff and Lotto Soudal), plus a few other little gems that will make you feel like you’re along for the ride (even if you can’t be there in person).  So make sure you follow us and our partnered teams on social media because you won’t want to miss a thing!!

*We’ll even have a commercial on NBC (set to run on July 14th).  
We’re a bit excited.
Yep. Just a bit. 

 

Continue reading Tour de France 2016

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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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Around the World with Feedback Sports

Maybe it’s the size of our company (11 employees), or the small-town vibe that we embody by living and working in Golden, CO. Regardless of the reason, many people are surprised to find that Feedback Sports has the world-wide reach that we do.  

The company may have started in Doug and Lisa Hudson’s basement, but Feedback Sports products are now available in over 40 countries. You can find our signature red anodized items from Australia to Venezuela.

 

Ford Isbey, our International Sales Manager recently went on a 10 day trip to Asia to visit dealers and distributors in the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea. A quick introductory word about Ford. He has an incredibly friendly and genuine nature.  He could befriend an abandoned, rusty old car and what’s more, he’d undoubtedly have a few fun and wacky adventures with that car before the day was over.  Ford looks forward to such trips not only to talk shop, but to reconnect with his friends/business associates–many of which, got their first peek of our newest product, The Omnium.
ford with catalog    viewing omnium  
For Cx racers like the Feedback Sports crew,  it’s easy to categorize the Omnium as a “race warm-up tool”.  But as Ford’s travels progressed it quickly became evident to all of us that the Omnium takes the “KOM” for trainers in general. Whether it’s for racking up the base-miles, bike fits or (yes) warming up at a race, our international dealers, distributors and customers want it. Click here for more pics resulting from this trip.
omniums at show

Needless to say, Ford is…pretty busy.

When giving a recap of his trip (and it’s carry-over product buzz) at our weekly company meeting, Ford said in his jovial North Carolina accent, “Bud, lemme’ tell ya. Orders have been flyyyyyin’ in faster than I used to shuck corn as a kid.” Okay, okay, full disclosure: it may not have been that exact quote, but it was something like that and Ford is on Thanksgiving vacation already, so we’ll stick with that. 

In closing, be patient.  Availability for the Omnium is getting close, both domestically and internationally.  Or as Ford might say, “It’ll be here sooner than the leafers on the Blue Ridge Parkway”.*

ford at show     omnium in sk

*Unless you are also from North Carolina, you may need to click here for the translation of that phrase.