Team. Why did you join Purple Patch? Yes, aside from my great looks and magnetic personality, you most likely joined to improve your performance, and to do so substantially and sustainably over the long term. It is the Purple Patch way.
One massively high ROI area that I am seeing for performance gains is skills and technique on the bike. How you ride and how you manage terrain is massively important. It matters to the tune of, literally, 10’s of minutes up or down on your finish time in a 70.3. Just ask Andy Williams at 70.3 St George or Alex Fuller at 70.3 Gulf Coast.
Those of you in Plus are now well used to me barking on about posture, good form, positive habits. Some of you have my cues and corrections echoing in your ears when you go to bed at night - haunting memories of me calling for better actions. Let me break it down for you.
Rider A is a wonderful example of standing out of the saddle with incorrect form. He has shoulders up high, the body weight is pressed all the way forward with weight on the handlebars, he carries an open hip angle and more.
Rider B has a nice balanced standing position, with hips high and chest low, good activation of the glutes and hamstrings, and is clearing ‘drawing the retreating leg’ through the back of the pedal strokes (shown with that pointed toe technique). Bad form versus good form. But why do we care? Here is why. Let’s break down Rider B’s issues when it comes to performance on the bike, and then the run:
- Standing in this weighted and front loaded style amplifies the heart rate and physiological cost. Not efficient.
- The position absolutely loads the low back and quads. This accelerates fatigue and impacts postural stability. Fatigue comes quicker and it is much tougher to run well off the bike.
- You don’t go as fast *unless the terrain is really steep, then you must come forward like this.
Form matters. On Thursday morning, I taught a live bike session as a part of Plus. We have a broad collection of Purple Patch athletes who have been attending live for many months. We also have a selection of athletes who have been with Purple Patch for a long time, but not following the video classes. I finished the day with absolutely cruelty:
~ 8 minutes of riding building effort from Z2 to Z5.
ALL of the 8 minutes was focused on climbing form out of the saddle.
Yes. 8 minutes of standing climbing.
Many very accomplished and hard training athletes absolutely exploded. The majority of the ‘old timers’ just navigated through managing load and riding with good form. They are not all better athletes than those who blew themselves to pieces, but they are upskilled in this important area.
This is one example.
Let’s look at other elements, and why it is critical:
Good posture on the bike. If you don’t hold good posture as a habit then:
- You cannot stand out of the saddle effectively
- You are more prone to crashing when you hit rocks, sticks and potholes
- You are ill-equipped to ride in wind
- You will not corner or steer well.
- You are not able to optimize terrain management.
Proper pedaling mechanics. If you fail to develop a range of great pedaling mechanics:
- You won’t optimize power return
- You are unable to develop the best wheel speed in return for effort.
- You are in danger of over-working specific muscles that will accelerate fatigue and impact running
Develop terrain management tool box: If you ignore the importance of terrain management:
- You will not optimize speed for effort
- You are at risk of blowing resources for the run from elevated physiological cost.
- Your chances of consistently running off the bike will be diminished.
All of the above is outlined without a single word uttered about improving your fitness, power output, physiological parameter. In other words, the elements that most riders and triathletes place 99.9% of their focus on. These elements -- the physiological variables -- are critical. They are the power that drives the above. Your blood, sweat and tears of hard work are important. But that isn’t the whole picture.
This. This. Is why we care so deeply about the live and VOD coaching.
To make you better, to train with intent. Like going to bike school, but with a bunch of your friends in an experience that is quite entertaining and fun.
None of what I outline above is mystical, or impossible to improve on. With effort, my friends who blew their gaskets today will improve radically. They will get smarter -- and faster -- both on bike and running off.
So I ask you. How the heck can you bypass the opportunity to focus and develop these?
If you haven’t so far -- join PLUS. Seriously. Do it.
If you are in already -- then commit to it. Immerse in the experience and value of the bike and the strength. As my riding principles today absolutely apply to the strength also.
Reach out if you are on the fence and have questions. We are happy to talk you through.
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