Coaches' Blog

Coach Ainslie

With cooler temperatures arriving and daylight becoming less and less I have cyclists ask me frequently should they get rollers or a turbo trainer. Both devices offer great benefits that will help you improve your fitness but the answer isn't totally cut and dry. 

I think every cyclist should learn to ride rollers. For creating a smooth, fluid pedal stroke there is no better tool than rollers. Rollers magnify any irregularity in your pedal stroke thereby "forcing" you to become smooth. You can do relatively high heart rate stuff with rollers but a potential downfall is that it can be hard to do high power stuff. Some rollers have the compatibility to accomodate a resistance unit however rollers make a short, sharp out of the saddle effort nearly impossible because of the risk of coming off the drums. 

I like rollers because they keep you engaged. If you stop paying attention you'll fall off. Additionally they are the most like riding your bike since you are, essentially, riding your bike on three rolling drums. This combination makes the time seem to go by faster and its more fun.....if fun is something you could say about indoor training. I also find that you can rack up quite a few miles on the rollers if thats your goal. 

On the other side we have the turbo trainer. It makes indoor training approachable for everyone and doesn't require the skill that rollers ask for. The turbo trainer allows you to make short, sharp efforts without the risk of falling off. Many turbo trainers come with a resistance unit and they make power training very easy. Many new trainers interface with a computer and allow you to monitor any number of parameters. With power training being in vogue right now the turbo trainer has a clear advantage. 

The downfall of the turbo, in my mind, is that it doesnt develop pedaling fluidity in quite the same way and frankly, its incredibly boring. With the bike locked into the device its highly stable and no finesse is required. 

To me the answer is: depends on what your goal is if you ask which unit is better. In an ideal world you could have both. I realize that its not always feasible to have both though. If you need to work on developing power than the turbo trainer is the way to go. If your goal is to develop a fluid pedal stroke, reduce the monotony of indoor training and actively spin your legs, I think rollers are the way to go.

Everyones opinion will be different so you have to find what works for you. At the end of the day, as long as you continue with your training on the days with inclement weather or cooler temps it doesn't matter which device you use. 

Coach Ainslie

I noticed on facebook recently a number of friends and a few pros saying "season over!" Indeed we have arrived to the "off season" for more than a few of us. If you are racing 'cross, you're on a different plan. For the rest of us, off season has different meanings. For some, its time completely off the bike. For others it means switching to your mountain bike or some other sport. What should you be doing right now to get refreshed without digging yourself too deep a hole?

After the racing season, its important to give yourself a physical and mental break from organized training and the stresses of racing. All that accumulated fatigue takes a toll on your central nervous system, adrenal glands and immune system. Its important to take time at the end of your season, no matter when it is, to recharge your "batteries." This will not only refresh you physically but mentally too.

So, what should you be doing? TIme off can take many appearances.  Whatever you choose to do, it should be about allowing yourself to relax a little bit, not worry about structure or training plans and allow your body to recover from the rigours of all those miles and hours. 

Many of you have been pursuing organized training and racing since February or March. Thats 7 or 8 months with a grand total of maybe 14 days of "rest." I've said it many times but, to most cyclists (endurance athletes in general) rest is figuratively and literally a 4 letter word. This is your time to not let rest create anxiety for you. You NEED this time to rebalance your body. You've been wildly out of balance and you can take this time to enjoy yourself too. 

When I was racing, my dad was a doc and he studied up on endurance sports and training. He used to say that we could put down the "living like a monk" and actually have a few cheeseburgers and fries. I loved the idea of "doctor endorsed" junk food. It doesn't mean you can go hog-wild on the looser dietary options BUT, it does mean that you should take steps to restore some of your fat stores and not feel guilty about it! In general you can loosen up somewhat for a few more weeks but, don't dig the hole TOO deep. 

If you DO choose to continue with riding, make it fun. Take off your HR monitor or power meter. Just go out and enjoy riding for the sake of riding (remember that?). I think fall riding is some of the best riding so, go enjoy it without having zone requirements or time limits creating anxiety. Riding should be unstructured and low in intensity. No hard efforts. Save that stuff for later. 

What I suggest to my riders is 1 week of total time off the bike and then an additional two weeks of unstructured riding and/or cross training. Not more than 2 weeks off of exercise though. If you let it go too long, you can actually experience too significant a detraining effect which would mean you're coming in at a lower level of fitness than is desirable. 

So, to recap --

- Only 1 week of no activity

- Cheeseburgers good

- 2 additional weeks of loose training of some variety

- Refresh mentally and physically

- Try to have some fun darnit

Many of the athletes I work with will also be beginning a winter strength training plan. This plan will be geared specifically for cyclists and will be coordinated with their riding to keep overall work load managable. For more information on that you can email me.

Coach Ainslie

So, about 2 weeks ago my wife and I started the #Whole30 plan. If you're not familiar with Whole 30, think "orthodox Paleo". That is, keeping your foods to whole ingredients and eliminating foods that strict Paleo nutrition gurus suggest you take out. To get a feel for what those items are go to

As of today we're at day 18. I won't lie, it has been hard. The first two weeks I was pretty unhappy and hungry. That happened because of two things:

1. Me not being mentally agile enough to assemble appropriate snacks

2: My body starting to transition to a more fat based metabolism.

This week I can say that I'm feeling much better. I've learned what snacks I can have that are Whole 30 compliant AND my cravings to eat beyond the prescribed 4 meals a day has abated. The worst part for me is the evenings after dinner. I'm going to attribute this to boredom and perhaps not hitting the right percentages of macro nutrients during my day.

Melissa and I were talking this morning and we were both commenting that we've both noticed a difference in our mid section. Additionally I notice I AM sleeping better. Anyone that knows me knows that sleep is an elusive animal for me so, improved sleep feels really incredible. The Whole 30 folks claim that improved sleep is a benefit one can expect.

I still want that glass of wine or dessert item occasionally but not to such a degree that its overly frustrating. Melissa hasn't had that craving. 

I did notice last week that when I went riding my legs were feeling depleted. After adding in more complex carbohydrate sources I started feeling better on the bike. Those items for me were sweet potato hashbrowns and roasted potatoes. There are lots more options but those are things I know I like and know how to prepare.

Thats where we are today. We have 12 days left. I'll try to touch down either by video or here a couple more times before we hit the end.....Ainslie

Coach Ainslie

So, my wife and I have decided to give the Whole 30 plan a whirl. If you're not familiary with the plan its essentially "orthodox Paleo." We took a look at our summer and realized we had been a bit cavailier about food and adult bevvies and hence, here we are. Yes, its true, we like to eat and have a drink every now and then!

The Whole 30 plan is a great way to break your bad habits and "reset" your nutrition. Its not miracle pill and without a doubt it take work, but anything worth doing does. The Whole 30 folks claim a variety of health and wellness improvements which I won't bore you with here. To check it out for yourself, go to their website

We are on day 4. So far we are enjoying it. The meals are great however you have to do quite a bit of pre-prep. For us thats not a huge departure from our normal routine. We try to minimize shooting from the hip with meals at our house anyhow. Something Melissa and I both tell our gym clients is to plan ahead with meals so convenience doesn't "bite" you. In other words, caving and ordering a pizza or bag-o-dinner. 

I will confess that today I was pretty hungry and a bit grumppy all day. Even with good meals I still felt like I was not fed enough. I talked with Hugh MacEachran ( who is an expert on Paleo nutrition and has completed the Whole 30 plan. He gave me some great ideas about snacks that fit into the Whole 30 paradigm. The struggle here is to avoid added sugars, soy, corn products of any kind, processed grain, peanuts, dairy and legumes. Initially it sounds restrictive but, if you look at it more closely you have lots of options. 

I'll try to blog or v-log as we proceed. I am announcing a race at a somewhat remote location this weekend and then we have a dinner party on Saturday night. We'll let you know how we handle situations like those where you aren't in control of the foods that are presented. 

Coach Ainslie

Hard to believe the Tour is already over. This race has offered up plenty of action and its been fun to watch all the animators. Personally, I think this year was more entertaining than the last several years. Chris Froome raced with panache and his attacks came in unexpected places. 

I was out of town working again this weekend so I didn't get to Saturdays stage. It was another day of climbing and not so nice weather. For the GC men, it was again about watching each other. Ion Izaguerre with Movistar won the stage with a daring attack and then took a suicidal descent on his way to the win. Really fun to watch and nice to see someone other than one of the usual suspects take the win. I always enjoy when a lesser known rider has a break through. 

Today was the traditional "parade" into Paris. It is an unspoken rule that no actual racing will occur until the race reaches the circuits around the Champs Elysees. During the initial miles it is hijinks and shenanigans mixed with photo ops and celebrations. I enjoy this kind of thing since you know the riders have endured a lot along the way. Its only right that they should get to have a bit of fun with it.

Once the race reaches the circuits in the City of Light, the racing is on! Today was always one for the sprinters. The teams of the sprinters spend quite a bit of time trying to keep things together for their men so that they can set up the perfect lead out. Many men will try to escape on the cobbles of the finish circuit but when you have the teams executing organized chases its very hard to pry loose a breakaway.

In the end Andre Griepel with Lotto-Soudal time things to perfection passing Alexandre Kristoff with Katusha and holding off Peter Sagan with Tinkoff-Saxo. Had the race been another 2 meters and Sagan would have won. His acceleration in the end was absolutely stunning, he just got the timing wrong. Griepel got everything right and was able to take home "the sprinters world championship." 

The riders will only get a brief rest though. Many of the riders will go directly to the post Tour criteriums. These are lucrative races for the riders where they get paid to show up to a race. Additionally the Olympics are just around the corner. Many riders will continue to add the final polish to their fitness so that they can show up to Rio in peak condition. 

I for one, can't wait! Thanks for reading folks. Feel free to shoot me a note with your thoughts! 

Coach Ainslie

Phew! Busy last couple of days at the Tour. Yesterdays time trial was a 17km affair that was primarily uphhill. It was business as usual for the GC favorites with Chris Froome taking the win and Tom Dumoulin having to settle for 2nd. Dumoulin sat in the hot seat for the better part of the day and had to wait til all the riders save yellow jersey Froome were in. His time stood up to some very good riders and only Chris Froome could unseat him.

Today was a 146km stage with 13,000 feet of climbing with the final climb being a particular bit of nastiness. With atrocious weather the roads were absolutely treacherous and lots of riders found themselves on the ground, including race leader Chris Froome. On a rapid descent Froome crossed the white center line and lost the front wheel. After looking at his bike he realized it was unrideable and he was forced to mount Geraint Tomas bike. Its no accident that Geraint was near Froome. A rider of similar size will be required to stay near the leader for just such an incident. Froome managed to make it all the way to the finish on this bike with the help of his teammate Pouwels.

The attacks came thick and fast from all corners and the Sky riders earned their salaries today containing the race. In the end, Romain Bardet with AG2R soloed in for the win. Bauke Mollema crashed and never made it back into the race. Adam Yates was penalized 10sec for a hand  sling from another rider and Quintana lost a few seconds in the final 2km. Bardet vaults into 2nd on the GC, Mollema falls outside the top 10 on GC and Quintana now lies in 3rd. It was a shuffling of the deck that reshaped the podium. There is only one more day for Porte, Yates and Quintana to try and move themselves back onto the podium.

Tomorrorow (Saturday) brings another day of ridiculous climbing. 146.5km with 4 major climbs will test everyone in the race. Froome and his Sky men will have their hands full as the rest of the field will try and shuffle the standings in their last opportunity. You can be sure that there will be some hail mary's from Astana, Movistar, BMC and Trek. I think we can look to a rider like Rodriguez with Katusha or one of the AG2R riders to win the stage. Froome will only be interested in monitoring the riders that could threaten his yellow jersey. This will provide and opportunity for other riders to go for the stage win. 

PS. Too bad about Tom Dumoulin having to abandon the Tour with a fractured wrist. This is concerning because he is the favorite at the Olympics Time Trial. Lets hope he can recover in time.