How is my efficiency as a competitive cyclist??

 In Discussions, Training

On my flight back to Washington from the US Military CyclingTeam ‘s training camp in Tampa, my teammate, Jim, and I chatted about the things coaches find interesting:  how much better life would be if our athletes would only execute the training program as written, different ways to encourage better FTP test and so on.  During our conversation about efficiency, I had an “a-ha” moment that I wanted to share.

When I use the word efficiency, you probably think of one of two things:  pedal stroke or time management.  While we use efficiency to reference biomechanical aspects of cycling, our conversation focused on the latter.  If I were to say to you, “We need to discuss time management,” you would think our chat would focus on balancing work life with workout time and family time.  If Jim wore only a coach’s hat that would probably be the case.  However, Jim is also a Ph.D. nutritionist, and his definition of efficiency extends this discussion to include post-workout, nutrition and sleep efficiencies.  To be an athlete is a life style choice that extends beyond the ability to generate high watts and push the body through pain.

What does this term, “life style” mean?  On Amazon, there are books that talk about the time-crunched cyclist, but they are focusing in on simply the workouts.  My discussion with Jim becomes important in this context.  Competitive cyclists hire coaches like us to design their training plans, which gives the athlete a better quality training strategy (outsourcing gains) and increases free time (opportunity cost).  The important question:   what do they do with this extra time?  This is where being a competitive cyclist, whether pro or Master’s racer, becomes a life style and simply not something to do on the weekends. 

Ask yourself the following questions:    What have I done to ensure I have the time to accomplish my workouts?  How do I arrange life to ensure that I am most efficient to being able to have the time to execute?  Nutrition??  Have I properly planned my meals?  My snacks?  I have an hour from end of ride to arrival home – how will I fuel recovery?  Will I have a full 8 hours of sleep to recover tonight?  What does your Sleep Efficiency Plan look like?  If you have to get up at 4 AM for a Master’s swim or to do CompuTrainer intervals, do you plan correctly to go to bed early enough to maximize execution?

All of these are just food for thought.  My discussion with Jim made me think.  Am I really committed to being the best amateur cyclist I can be, or am I simply going through the motions, being Nutritional Inefficient, Workout inefficient, Sleep Ineff…. You get the point.

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  • Jim Weinstein

    Awesome discussion Chuck! I like to describe efficiency as "on bike" and "on life". The on bike efficiency discussion expands beyond pedal stroke and past drafting, tactics, and on bike nutrition. We all know its not always the "Fastest" cyclist that wins a race…well then who is it? Is it the smartest. No way—I mean do I really need to call a few winners out from last year? Then who—I contend its the one who is the most efficient, the one who uses the least energy when he doesnt need it, and the most when it matters, eats/drinks on target, and understands that friction and resistance is the enemy to forward movement. All actions and reactions are based on making the bike/rider machine more efficient going forward. Its not theoretical mumbo jumbo—its stuff we all can get better at! Take one aspect of "on bike" efficiency like reducing resistance. Is your chain lubed? tires at the right PSI? you wearing a baggy kit? are you in a good riding position that meets at the intersection of aerodynamic and powerful…. efficiency is just a cool topic to thing about—perhaps we should write a book? 🙂

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