A friend of mine in Vermont once told me that, in order to improve in cycling, it was all about T.I.T.S. This is also known as “Time In The Saddle”, but Sean liked referring to it as T.I.T.S. I’m guessing that because he lived an almost exclusively G-rated life; blurting out the acronym “T.I.T.S.“ was, well, titillating for him. For me, not so much.
Sure, you can spend time in the saddle. I’ve been doing that since mid-April and am seeing some gains. For the better part of 4 years, I’ve been telling myself that I should find an “in person” bike coach who is okay with coaching a somewhat remedial tribiker. And I did. This might be overkill since I have a terrific triathlon coach in Kurt Perham and I have been in the sport for over 10 years, but biking has held such a steep learning curve for me. Since April, I’ve been tagging along with bike coach extraordinaire, Anna Gerber (who is the fastest female cyclist I know). Over the last month, we have been working once a week on interval sets. We go out to a flat loop (for those of you in San Diego, it’s the Fairbanks/Morgan Run loop) and crank out 4 times “x” sets of intervals. Well, I crank them out. Anna sits behind me and pushes/coaches.
Here are some of the things that she says which resonate with me. Anna, forgive me if I’m paraphrasing a little bit:
- Circles not boxes (I’ve gotten in the habit of singing the annoying song “the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round-not a bad idea to do so when you are concentrating on form)
- Pull up on the pedal stroke. Don’t push down. Drive. Drive. Drive the knees up
- Head down. An aero helmet doesn’t matter if your head isn’t down
- Hold your line. Don’t wobble. Hold a straight line
- Stop using the shoulders. Push through with the hip flexors. Engage the core
What I’m learning from this training cocktail of T.I.T.S. and Technique is that there are many gains to be made on the bike. I feel as though I’m improving and the super big steep hills are now just super big. And when I focus and really concentrate on form, I see the entire cycling thing coming together. Albeit slowly, but it’s coming around.
I threw together a terrific lunch of a baked sweet potato topped with sautéed spinach, spiced garbanzo beans, hemp seeds and a roasted garlic-tahini drizzle. I cooked the spinach in my cast iron frying pan and squeezed in a shot of lemon juice to up the iron content. I found the cloves of roasted garlic on the olive bar at Whole Foods. You can make them yourself by putting a cup of garlic cloves into a pan fitted with a lid. Drizzle a little olive oil. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until the color of a yellow lab. Not a chocolate lab. A yellow lab. I err on the side of a dark yellow one, LOL.
Tahini-Roasted Garlic Spread, Dressing or Drizzle
- 1 Cup Roasted Garlic Cloves
- ½ Cup Tahini (Sesame Seed Butter)
- 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ Cup Lemon Juice
- ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
- Water to thin if necessary
Puree all ingredients in a high speed blender. You can also use a food processor but it won’t be as smooth
I was on the third 8:00 interval today when I told Anna that I composed my latest blog. She told was surprised that I had done so in just a couple of minutes. I told her that “no, I composed it during the 2nd interval”. WTF, I shouldn’t be composing blogs during a work set. Guess that I need to concentrate a little more. Here’s to getting those watts up!