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Q ~ Hi Gale...Anothertraining question for you! I am in France and have joined a team. I will start racing in late February they said. My mom has your book "Training Plansfor Cyclists" but she described most of the plans as preparing for tours or long distance rides. I wanted to ask if you have a book or suggest a certain book that could give me a good training plan for racing this season. It is my first year racing in cycling so I do not know exactly what I am doing!I think I will be doing road races and TT type stuff. Any help will be appreciated! Hope you're doing well. JB


A ~ Hi JB – Living in France – that's great! To answer your question, yes, “Training Plans for Cyclists” does focus on longer rides (centuries, 3-day bike tours, week-long tours) and mountain bike racing. There are different levels for the plans, one for comfortable completion and the other a more competitive plan – to get faster. We were going to include a chapter with road racing plans too, but ran out of room in the book. The good news is there are two plans in my book"Bicycling for Women" that might fit your needs. There is a 25-week plan that is designed to help riders time trial better (40k) or the plan can beused to help someone get faster for group riding purposes. This plan can be used as a springboard for racing. Additionally, there is a 25-week plan designed to help riders improve hill climbing – which can help racing or group ride fitness. Let me know how it goes for you. Hope you have a blast.

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I was doing some research for a book and found an interesting study that looked at controlling the pace of the first 1-kilometer of the10-kilometer run in an Olympic distance triathlon. The study was designed to look at run pacing strategy. Scientists held swim and bike speeds constant, relative to a previous test performance. It was only the run pace they manipulated.


The 10 highly trained male triathletes did a randomized individual time trial for each sport, 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and a 10-km run (control-run) to determine triathlon paces.


The athletes were then asked to complete a triathlon, holding swim and bike speeds constant based on the individual time trial results. The run portion of the triathlon was divided into three different groups, each controlling the first 1-km of the 10-km triathlon run, and then running the remaining 9-km as fast as possible.


The groups were split into:

  • Run the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent slower than the control run
  • Run the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent faster than the control run
  • Run the first 1-km at a pace 10-percent slower than the control run


The athletes that ran the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent slower than their time trial pace and then opened up the remaining 9-km ran the entire 10-km run significantly faster than the other two groups. (33.8 minutes, +/-78 seconds)


The 5-percent faster group – bolting out of transition at a fast clip – ran the 10-km slower than the previous group, at 36.3 minutes, +/- 121 seconds.


Finally, the group that held back to 10-percent slower for the first 1-km still out ran the athletes bolting out of transition. Their times were 34.78 minutes, +/- 88 seconds.


If you want to have a fast 10-km run on the end of that Olympic distance triathlon, here’s more proof that holding back in the beginning of the run gives you a faster time.



Hausswirth C, et al, Pacing strategy during the initialphase of the run in triathlon: influence on overall performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010Apr;108(6):1115-23. Epub 2009 Dec 19.


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I received the question below from a young endurance athlete with a pacemaker. If you have some helpful advice for him, please post it here on the comment section of the blog. Let’s keep all the helpful advice in one spot - rather than splitting it up to Facebook too.


In advance, thanks for anyone that can help Jeff ~






Good morning (from here in Orange County, CA).  I am curious if you might, by chance, have ideas, info, resources that might be helpful for my situation.


Earlier this year, I underwent cardiac catheter ablation surgery for supraventricular tachycardia (fast heartbeat, but you know that’s what SVTs are!).  That surgeon was unable to trigger the tachycardia, hence, no ablation occurred.  I then passed out in the parking lot upon discharge and was re-admitted to the hospital.  After a day and a half of monitoring, a decision was made to implant a pacemaker.  I wasn’t happy then, nor am I now, about that.  I don’t think the day and a half sample size of heart-rate data is enough to get to that conclusion.  As a 44 year-old athlete who was riding 3-4x a week (road cycling) and was in the gym 6 days a week, it didn’t add up.  I was 205 lbs. 12-13% bfp, 26” quads… not a small cyclist, but the muscle I had was pretty lean and didn’t hinder my cycling.  The SVTs DID, however, wreck any aerobic capacity I have, so I could ride to LT in my legs and then either sit up or stop and rest. 


In any case, I’ve been trying to find a way to become a better climber (though I am now 180ish and don’t have the dimensions I had before).  With the surgeries, there have been byproducts/unintended consequences (post-traumatic stress syndrome with tremors, high anxiety, insomnia, etc.), but I soldier through them as best I can.  It’s difficult to believe that I am the only 44 year-old who has (a) a pacemaker, (b) has hadsome serious difficulty coping with it and, (c) trying to find their way backto something that was part of a daily/weekly routine to establish some normalcy.  The norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin from cycling workouts (and resistance) are missed too!


Are there any coaches, articles, books, etc. out there?  I know there are Ironmen (and women) with pacemakers.  I’ve just had an incredibly bad time with my physicians not being of any real help or wanting to help. 


Sorry if this is a way-off-base question, but someone has to know how to make a better mousetrap, so-to-speak, so I can maybe progress and get some normalcy on the bike.  It’s been a really horrible road. Any info you can provide is more than what I have now, so it’s all appreciated greatly!!!


Thank you, Gale!



2,382 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: surgery, tachycardia, cardiac, supraventricular, catheter, ablation, svts

If you’re an endurance athlete, at some point I’m certain you’ll have a need for duct tape. Not just any duct tape; but all-weather duct tape. Recently I’ve had a use for it in the pool, securing my sprained finger support stick. (More on that in a later blog.) The tape easily lasts through a 60- to 75-minute workout. I originally got this tape for use in snow to secure the top of dog boots and it works pretty well in cold wet conditions too.


A second tape you'll need is self-adhering tape. This tape is used by athletes for issues such as securing wound gauze and it can also be used as a compression tape – say, for compressing a sprained finger or two. Similar to the non-adhering ACE bandage, this tape is stretchy, but unlike ACE it needs no metal clips to keep it secure. If you buy the marketed-to-humans variety, you will often pay around $10 for five yards at a pharmacy.


The same tape is used for pets and five yards can be purchased for around $2 at a pet supply store. Know that there are different widths available too.


I'm pretty sure you'll have a need for both items at some point in the future - if you don't already have a need right now.

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Multi-author new book

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Nov 9, 2011

Awhile back I was invited to be one of the authors in a multi-author book to be published by Human Kinetics, currently titled “Triathlon Science”. My chapters are:


Part VIII              Multisport Event-Specific Training and Racing Tactics

Chapter 28          Sprint

Chapter 29          Olympic

Chapter 30          Half-Ironman

Chapter 31          Ironman

Chapter 32          Duathlon

Chapter 33          CombinationWorkout Training


I sequestered myself last Friday through Monday for the final push to get the chapters wrapped up.


There will likely some edits, I’ll keep you posted on publish date.

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Over the weekend someone asked how I was doing on my winter weight goals. This athlete, Kevin, and I are sharing the same journey this winter - trying to maintain weight.


The short answer is I’m maintaining my weight and so is Kevin. We discussed some of the things that we think are contributing to our success, perhaps one of these tips will help you too:


  1. Start the weigh-in process while your weight is “good”. In past years I didn’t worry about stepping on the scale from May to November or maybe as late as February. My weight is typically “good” in these months, so I didn’t worry about weight. I only decided to check the scale when I thought there might be a problem.


                Oh there was a problem alright, a big one. How did six pounds suddenly appear?


                Once I was over my comfortable weight, the scale became my enemy. If my once-per-week weigh-in news was bad, I felt bad. That resulted in one of the following:


      • Oh well, I’ll be better next week.
      • Screw this entire weight loss program. I’ve been starving myself and the scale isn’t changing. I just as well eat brownies, enjoy beer and chips.
      • I’m going to have to try completely eliminating (pick any…bread, cookies, chips, alcohol, cheese, etc.) to see if that makes a difference. (It only made me want the eliminated food more.)
      • Maybe I need to add more exercise? After all, sans my exercise sessions I just sit at my desk answering e-mails, working on training plans and typing articles. Maybe I need a treadmill desk for winter? This usually resulted in some type of retail therapy…after looking online for a treadmill desk set-up.


                Because I started weigh-in when my weight was good (a few weeks after the last race of the season), the scale isn’t the enemy.


  1. Weigh yourself every day or two. In past years I weighed in weekly. Once per week just isn’t a good picture of what weight is doing. Within the week, my weight can fluctuate a couple of pounds anyway. It’s tougher to spot a trend with four data points per month versus 16 or more.


  1. No deprivation of things you enjoy, only portion control. In the past, once I was already over my goal weight, I took drastic measures to get my weight backunder control. I deprived myself of foods I enjoy. Currently, I still enjoy those foods, but I really watch portion size. That means no eating mindlessly out of a bag. Most of the time I take a serving size, close the bag and go enjoy the food. Though I don’t have to do this in summer, I must do it in the winter.


As my cycling buddies (there are a few others that are trying to do the same thing as Kevin and I) continue the winter weight maintenance journey, I’ll keep you posted on what helps us maintain weight and what things get us into trouble.

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So, there have been some system changes and I need to check my blog. Since it was 12 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, somehow I thought of summer and the snake skin I found in my back yard. It was the most perfectly formed skin I've ever seen.




Pretty cool, eh?

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Over the weekend one of the endurance athletes I coach decided to do an ocean swim for his last long swim, 90 minutes, before Ironman Florida. The ocean is chilly on the northeast coast, running about 60 degrees F.


He wrote, “My wife couldn’t decide whether I was heroic or crazy.”


I replied, “Ah yes, that fine line between the two that most endurance athletes dance on from time to time...”


I bet you can think of a few times that you pulled off an adventure that was both crazy and heroic. Yes?

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I am lucky to live in an area where open space is a priority for the two cities I frequent the most, Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado. Open space is also a priority in the county we share, Larimer. The two city governments partner with the county on several open space projects and make connectivity a priority. Additionally,connectivity with Colorado State Parks is a priority as well.

In fact, The Big Ride covered trails that were funded by all four organizations.


Today I was chatting with Ernie Watenpaugh and he reminded me about the wildlife camera project at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.


Lions and bobcats and bears, oh my!


It’s really cool to see photos of furry open space and trail visitors – or is that open space homeowners?


January 2011 has a mountain lion. Bears are in September 2011. If you go through all of the 2011 photos, you'll find a nice variety of wildlife.


There are times when I'm on the local trails and I feel like I'm being watched....

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Yesterday’s mountain bike ride on the trails west of Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado is a good example of why I maintain a certain level of fitness. I stay fit so that with minimal notice I can go out and participate in an adventure.


A few weeks ago, I had a chance to ride with a new woman, Andrea Gregory. She’s been a great inspiration for me, her technical skills are much better than mine. Her favorite trail in the area is Mill Creek (Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Larimer County). Locals know that descending this trail involves steep, rocky and loose sections. There are tight corners, exposed roots and of course several obligatory trees near the trail to catch your handlebars if you’re not paying attention. She descends the trail with ease and rides most of it.


Andrea had this idea to do a ride she called The Whole Enchilada. Unfortunately, our calendars wouldn’t mesh and she did the Whole Enchilada ride with her husband, Joe, last Thursday.


I wanted the Enchilada. I dropped a note to my Sunday ride list and asked if I could rally some interest in a route similar to The Whole Enchilada, and luckily there were takers! We did The Big Ride.


The summary:

Ride distance: 42 miles

Out time (riding, hike-a-bike, mechanicals, refueling, regrouping, chatting with trail buds):       7:15

Moving time (I believe this includes ride time plus hike-a-bike, bike barely moving and stop time under 1 minute):       5:16

Time (I believe this is ride time):      4:53

Elevation gain:   5712 feet


You can find a map and ride details here.


I would describe the pace, when we were rolling, as steady and mostly conversational. This was great. Garmin Connect link above doesn’t show grade percentages or heart rate summary data, so I'll add attachments. I’m attaching two pdf screen shots from Garmin Training Center that show just over four hours of the ride was aerobic (Zones 1and 2). Don’t take “aerobic” and “mostly conversational” to mean an easy ride. It wasn’t.


It’s the technical sections, steep climbs and steep descents that make the ride tough. It’s difficult to describe Devil’s Backbone, which is the first technical trail in the ride. I’ll have to get some photos or video – but as everyone knows, those never do justice to a trail. In short, a good percentage of it is rocky. Continuous rocks, off-camber rocks and rocks on climbs. Unrelenting rocks.


In addition to rocky sections, The Big Ride route has climbs. Tough climbs. In the first attachment, The Big Ride, you’ll see a 40% grade on one of the climbs. This anomaly is when I decided to conquer a section of trail with a do-over. I picked up the front end of the bike and swung it around to go backand try again. So, this isn't a real trail number. The Big Ride 2 attachment, shows second grade over 30% and is also false. It's from a hike-a-bike out of Coyote Ridge, again I picked up my bike.


The remaining 10 pieces of the ride data showing grades right around 20% or more on the climbs, are indeed riding sections. Locals that have climbed Devil’s Backbone, Indian Summer, Blue Sky to Coyote Ridge, the service road at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and the Towers Road can probably identify those sections right now in their noggin-memory-bank.


As for the hair-raising descents well over 20% and some over 30% - yes I believe those numbers to be true. These are scare-my-pants-off sections that many of the riders in the group descended skillfully. That doesn’t mean bombing downhill hell for leather; it means deftly dancing down the mountain.


I was nowhere close to deft. I walked some of the steepest, loosest descents. I will be deft on this trail. I will develop more skills. I dream of deftness.


Barb Schultz, absolutely a skillful rider, is someone I’ve seen often on the trails but have not ridden with until yesterday. She did the entire The Big Ride loop with me - and - did the loop last summer. She regularly does big, and bigger rides. She’s one of those endurance machines – and– has the technical skills to boot. She’s one more inspiration to bolster my technical skills.


In summary, I’m rich. I have tremendous fortune in great trails to ride, a buffet of excellent riders to learn from, a several excellent riders that love adventures, good health and decent fitness right now.


Rich, I tell you, rich.

1,117 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, loveland, devil's_backbone, fort_collins, mill_creek, horsetooth_mountain_open_space, larimer_county, mountain_bike_ride, coyote_ridge, blue_sky, herrington, indian_summer, lohry_state_park

As promised, I have a few more product reviews for you this week. The first two, Ibex and Craft, came from recommendations I received when I wrote the holiday gift idea column last year.


First some background. As the temperatures drop and we do our monthly ride to Estes Park body temperature management becomes an issue. If we begin at a temperature in the low 30s and climb some 2500 feet, everyone works up a nice sweat by the time we arrive at our mountain destination. The problem is the descent. Wet clothing next to the body on what is essentially a 30-mile descent in a cool canyon makes me cold.


What I typically do this time of the year is to carry an extra sports bra and base layer to Estes Park. I change those layers before descending.


I picked up an Ibex sports top a few weeks back and wore it on my last trip to Estes. What I found is the wicking properties of Merino wool kept me comfortable and I didn’t need to change sports bras. (I did need to take off my heart rate monitor though, because the elastic strap was cold and clammy by the end of our stop at the Notchtop Café.) Though not a good top for high impact activities, this sports top is a great choice for cold-weather cycling and skiing. No more cold, wet, clammy elastic straps. Excellent.


My second layer was the Craft Pro Zero crew. I did carry a spare to change at the top, but I’m not sure it was necessary. Between the Ibex and the Craft, I was totally comfortable.


The last product on my list is the Garmin 800. I had the older Garmin 800, so I was aware of all of the features offered. On the new touchscreen product – it is the touch screen and some of the navigational redesign that I love. The very best feature? It’s the touchscreen response while wearing long-fingered gloves. That rocks. Take note smartphone manufacturers - I don't want to remove my gloves to use your product.


Tomorrow we’ll be at 85 degrees for the high temperature. The historical range for today’s temperatures is 19 to 86 – a near 70-degree temperature swing in the possibilities. Ah, Colorado! Be ready for anything. 

1,063 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, garmin, craft, ibex

I mentioned in a blog that I'd post some fall mountain biking photos. The photos below are courtesy of Scott Ellis, who takes much better photos than I do. I keep telling myself I must take more photos. Left to right in the first picture is Josh (only know his first name), Bill Frielingsdorf, me, Scott Ellis.

josh_bill_gale_scott_web.jpgscott_bill_web.jpgScott and Bill. gale_web.jpg

Peaks Trail on the last day of riding. Fun, fun, fun...

937 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: mountain_bike, summit_county, peaks_trail

I have a bunch of product reviews for you this week. I’ll start with Braaap Energy Bars.


Last Thursday I attended an after-hours event at Peloton Cycles. One of the Sunday group riders, Ross Livingston, was at the event raving (again) about Braaap Bars. He asked if I tried them yet and I hadn’t. A few minutes later he came back with a blueberry bar and said, “This one’s on me.”


About an hour later, store owner Robin Torres told me he can’t keep Braaap Energy Bars in stock. He gave me an original flavor and said he thinks they taste great. 


Braaap owners Shauna and Todd Sledge live and produce the bars in Fort Collins, Colorado. I met them at the event. Shauna told me the manufacturing facility has been rolling since this spring. Like many start-up food companies, the product came from the home kitchen. Shauna was making energy bars at home for Todd's motorcycle racing and her own endurance/fitness endeavors and the short story is they decided to go big.


Where does that name come from?


Here’s the post from their Facebook site:


Braaap- the sound of acceleration. Influenced by riders, racers and outdoor enthusiasts on the tracks and trails of Colorado, the revolutionary Braaap formula was created as a solution to energize with clean and natural foods. The Braaap Bar is a superior food that delivers energy-infused nutrients and protein to meet the demands of today's toughest athletes. Braaap Energy Bars- accelerate your bodyand mind!

All natural, glutenfree, soy free, no preservatives

I tried both original and blueberry and I liked both flavors. They are soft and easy to eat on a ride. Thumbs up, yum!


Right now, they are working on a website. Until the website goes live, you can find them on Facebook.

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Last weekend I was happily riding around Summit County, Colorado in spectacular fall temperatures. (A few photos to come later.) The high temperatures in the mountains were in the low 60s (F) and the fall colors were amazing. Just one week later, it’s snowing in the Colorado high country and temperatures are mid to high 20s. Some mountain locations are expecting six to 12 inches of snow by the time the storm rolls out of here.


Along the Front Range, where I live, it’s been windy, wet and cold. Well, cold is a relative term I suppose. Our high today was in the mid 40s. It’s a far cry from the low 90s we saw a week ago.


This time of year is always tough for me. I don’t want to let go of summer and fall. I do love winter, but I’m not quite ready yet. Good thing the upcoming week will give me temperatures back into the 70s.


I don’t really have a good transition for this topic, so I’ll just make a hard right turn to granola. I’ve been meaning to tell you I found agreat tasting granola this summer. The name is as good as the granola – Super Human Granola. I found it by happy accident. Happy accidents are good…and sometimes yummy.

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Over the Labor Day weekend, we picked up a new addition to our family – Addie. You can see our current dog Meeka and Addie in the photo below. Meeka is six and Addie is about 18 weeks.




Today, as the three of us were walking, running (jogging),walking, stopping, walking, stopping, untangling, jogging, repeat…it came to me that I have a few personal rules about running with dogs. My top three, in no particular order:


1.  The workout is for and about the dog. What this means is that if the dog is looking tired, hot, cold or otherwise uncomfortable – the workout ends. Sometimes I take them home and finish my own workout and sometimes I call it quits too. 


2. When working with a pup, workouts are about good manners and obedience. When I have a new puppy, “runs” are really more about the pup learning where to be so I don’t step on her feet or she doesn’t cause both of us to end up in a pile on the ground. Working with two dogs adds extra challenge, as you can imagine.


3. I’m the boss. I decide:

                a) who can and cannot approach the dogs.

                b) where every human and fur-person is located during a run. 

                c) when it’s time to stop and smell something or eat crabgrass.

                d) it’s not okay to pull on the leash.

                g) nearly everything…

792 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: meeka, running_with_dogs, addie
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