PCC athletes are adapting to the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in. Creating a new routine of training indoors takes adjusting particularly if you are used to training on the road year-round. Amiel Flett-Brown – who won a Bronze medal in the Team Pursuit at the Track Worlds in January – is finding a way how to stay fit with while keeping safe and healthy. It is giving him the opportunity to work on his strengths and weaknesses and with the change of pace he feels he will come out of it all a better athlete.

Amiel shares his routine and how he is making indoor training fun and challenging.

I’ve found that overcoming mental barriers are the most common occurrences that may hinder my training routine. Creating tasks, schedules and routine have helped me stay on track with my fitness.

  1. Showing up – often a majority of mental barriers can be overridden by simply getting on the bike. I try to set a realistic time of day that I will start training and either set my bike up the night before or just after breakfast when I have some free time. Having the mental clarity that all you have to do is get on the bike, helps to simplify things.
  2. Having nutrition ready – depending on the energy demands of my training, another one of the things I do is prepare my nutrition before I get on the bike. The nice thing about indoor training is that you don’t have to keep your food in your pockets. For example, instead of eating a packaged fig newton bar, you could have a jam sandwich (on a plate). Hydration is largely more important than we may be used to, even if you have the latest cooling systems in place, you will still likely need to add at least an extra 500-1000ml of fluid to your ride plan. I like to set up a table with all of my hydration needs, including a post ride recovery drink in the ready. That way, you don’t have to get off the bike too often and can keep the quality of your training high.
  3. Warming up and cooling down – preparing physically and mentally are both two of the most important factors for me. If you’ve ever heard of the Pavlovian Response “a learning procedure that involves pairing a stimulus with a conditioned response.” I like to think of my warm up routine (breath work, muscle activations, on bike warm up) and cool down as an actual procedure to prepare my mind (and body) for the riggers of training. The more frequent positive experiences I have training, the more my mind and body will associate training with being happy. If you’re having a tough day, look at what you can improve for next time and consider what you did that made you feel good and add that to your routine!
  4. Keep the stimulus simple – there are a lot of things to focus on while riding these days, some good and some less helpful. For me, I tend to have a busy mind when I begin to suffer, say in an interval for example. The more internal noise, the less I am able to focus on the effort. If you can find a way to pair down your distractions and amplify the ones that really count you may find that the RPE of doing an effort indoors will go down. Another example; do you need your Garmin screen to tell you what the temperature is during your interval? Or do you need to be watching YouTube, Zwift and listening to an audiobook while doing a threshold interval? Finding ways to simplify your external input may help with focus. If I have a hard training session I keep my screen to a maximum of three data fields, find a good song or playlist. Virtual riding is good for this too! But keep it simple. This may be an acquired taste, but I actually like to have a blank wall to look at and Zwift off to the side. I’ll also let those who I am living with know that I am going to be doing a hard session so not to interrupt if possible. This may be harder for those with children, so finding time when kids are occupied could be the most optimal time for intervals. You can always talk about lightsabers and Frozen during a zone 2 ride.
  5. Flexibility – not just in the muscles, but in your planning and mindset. These are not optimal times and there will be many things you cannot control but you are always going to be responsible for your mindset. If something is blocking you from getting everything that you wanted to get done in the day, take a step back and consider what has gone right in your day. I try to stay grounded to the idea that I am grateful to be healthy, mobile and able to train on a regular basis. That is something that I can always come back to when things are not going to plan. Having the plan is one part, being able to adjust based on experience is key to enjoying your time training. A better snapshot of the trainer set up.

 

Photo by Alex Amiri

PCC’s Caleb Bender was training in Tucson last month. Here is his report and an update since he returned to Canada.

Reporting post ride, shower, and recovery meal, at the time of writing (before current events created the necessity to stop group rides) I’m getting mentally prepared for a massive day in the saddle as part of my pre-season race preparation in Tucson, Arizona. Tomorrow, I’m taking part in the “Shootout” group ride, a drop ride that leaves downtown Tucson and turns any long, quiet, and stop-less road into a full gas effort as intense as some races, if not more so. My group leaves at 7:00 am and splits into two options; a 60km ride for short intensity, and my challenge, a roughly 160 km ride turning around at the top of Madera Canyon – a gradually increasing gradient climb, 20 km long and 750 m of climbing, with finishing grades well above 10% in the final kilometers. And yup, the last 7 km are flat out to the top. North American Conti and Pro-Conti riders regularly attend to fire some shots off the front and take advantage of the perfect desert weather this time of year. With my commute to downtown, I’m looking at 230 km and over 1500 m of climbing. I’m anticipating a mid-afternoon nap in my near future.

This will be my third time taking on the full shootout ride in the five weeks I’ve been down, and my fourth ride over 200 km in that span of time as well. I arrived down south on February 6th, and for those who know of the tendency for Saskatchewan winters to follow me, I didn’t even bring a blizzard to the desert! (this time… yes it snowed last time I was here). To get prepared for my first season of U23 and Cat 1-2 racing some huge miles are needed. Thankfully, Tucson is the perfect place to get in those miles, complete with rolling hills, false flats, and Mount Lemmon; a cyclists’ dream of a climb taking the best in the world over 1.25 hours to get up, and the opportunity to replenish all the carbs you’ve lost in the past week with a fresh baked cookie larger than your face at the top.

A couple days after Pacific Cycling Centre’s February training camp, which provided me with a solid five-day training block with a great group of people to get the legs back into race form, I flew off to Tucson. My first three weeks down south were part of a team training and race prep camp with TaG Cycling Race Team, which included Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Phoenix Arizona. Although my Cat 1 race debut was a bit rocky, the team did a superb job working together and throughout the camp we had the opportunity to develop a needed sense of comradery between us, and to motivate each other to push ourselves to the limits during our rides. Between Shootouts, leadout drills, TTT’s, and Lemmon rides (one of which may or may not have included a caffeine gel at 7:00 pm to get through a post ride shower and meal) we got the teamwork going that we needed in order to prepare us for our time racing together for the rest of the season!

The last couple of weeks after team camp have been a full block of training. After a few days to get well recovered, Houshang gave me a schedule filled with race specific hill intervals to push my limits and get ready for the efforts I need to prepare for in competition, as well as long 5-6 hour endurance rides to keep the baseline fitness high and get me prepared for the longer days in the saddle that U23 and elite racing brings. He also threw in a few shootout rides to work on pack skills, tactics, and the top end power. Mixed with adequate R&R amid my online courses, the past weeks of training have brought huge personal improvement, allowing me to routinely smash personal bests, and putting me in some of my best form to date. Houshang’s personalized training plan has allowed for me to develop my strengths and work on my weaknesses so that I am prepared as best as possible for the season ahead.

That being said, I’m looking forward to the remainder of my time in the sun! I’ve got a few more big days, and another run up to the top of Lemmon in my time down here, and I’m looking forward to replenishing a month’s worth of carbs with a cookie at the top! After that, it’s a couple weeks back to Saskatchewan for some recovery, and I guess we will see where the season ends up going! That being said, I’ve got to get my equipment ready and some rest before a big day tomorrow. 4:30 am wakeup call! (I’m going to need a lot of coffee!)

PS – To provide an update on the time between writing and editing this, after a stressful few days trying to get back into Canada, I’m back at my home in Saskatchewan in self isolation until 14 days have passed and I’m cleared to be back outside. Although the circumstances aren’t great I’m glad to be home with my family, and have been keeping motivated to train, using my spare time to work on the different areas that make a complete athlete such as mental training, core stability work, and stretching. I’m taking a couple weeks fairly easy to relax and keep the immune system going strong, and then transitioning to more intervals with some Zwift racing to keep the motivation high. I’m looking forward to taking this time to enjoy the ride and better myself. I’m also really looking forward to the new PCC Zwift group rides on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:00 am to keep the riding going! There’s been lots to adapt to, but I’m glad to have a coach that is quick to adapt, and that I know I can trust to adjust my plan so I’m in the best place I can be whenever racing can resume in a safe manner!

Ottawa, ON (March 13, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic is a novel and rapidly changing situation. Cycling Canada has been monitoring what national and global health agencies are recommending; the best practices being adopted by other Canadian sport organizations and businesses; and travel restrictions that are being put into place around the world.

Our current travel recommendations for Cycling Canada athletes, officials, coaches and staff are below. “Essential” events are ones that have a direct impact on Olympic or Paralympic qualification and preparation; travel to those should be restricted to targeted athletes and key staff, and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Please note that these recommendations may change as the situation evolves.

  • Avoid all non-essential travel by mass transit (bus, train or plane); travel by car if possible.
  • Avoid attending non-essential events, particularly indoor events attended by large numbers of people.
  • Avoid travel to affected areas (see the WHO and Health Canada websites for the latest information).
  • Travel to essential events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and must be authorized by Cycling Canada senior management.
  • Cycling Canada will attempt to accommodate those who are unable to travel or do not wish to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Besides the potential health risk, there is a risk of imposed quarantine while abroad or upon return to Canada – this should be addressed in contingency plans.

Status of Domestic Events

In order to support the efforts from public health authorities to minimize the transmission of the virus, Cycling Canada is recommending that all cycling events on the Cycling Canada calendar between March 15th and May 1st be postponed or cancelled. This includes the postponement of the 2020 Canadian Youth & Para Track Cycling Championships originally scheduled for April 3-5 in Milton Ontario.

Calendar link: https://www.cyclingcanada.ca/events-results/find-events/

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, Cycling Canada will reassess the situation on April 3 for events that are scheduled between May 2nd and June 14th. Due to the wide range of events and jurisdictions, we are recommending that our provincial and territorial associations implement a similar process. We believe this is in the best interest of the cycling community and public health at large. Event organizers should consult with their local government and health agencies to determine the risk associated with their event.

Cycling Canada will continue to publish updates as they become available. We are committed to ensuring that our members have access to the most current information.

Organizers who are concerned that their event will be impacted should contact their provincial and territorial associations, all of whom are prepared to assist with the postponement or cancelation process.

We will work diligently and collaboratively with our organizers and provincial organisations to reschedule as many of our planned events as possible.

Hygiene recommendations that apply to everyone:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover both your nose and mouth when coughing. Try to cough or sneeze into your arm, away from others, or into tissue paper (to be disposed in toilet). Wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Face masks are most effective in preventing transmission when worn by the person who is ill.

Resources:

Olympian Svein Tuft has hung up his professional cleats to concentrate on creating memorable cycling experiences. Tuft’s Adventure Tours is offering single or multi-day gravel bike touring in Andorra. Two five-day camps in March and April are scheduled out of a Catalan farmhouse which include bike rental, epic rides, training and nutrition talks. The camps will “push your boundaries and step out of the comfort zone a bit to prepare you for the upcoming season, whether that is on the road or gravel/adventure racing.” Check out Svein’s website for more information.

PCC’s first camp of 2020 took place last week with 13 riders participating over the four days. Here is Holly Simonson’s report on the camp.

Last week  I was lucky to be a participant in one of the renowned winter endurance training camps put on by the Pacific Cycling Centre, in my hometown of Victoria, BC. Over the past four years that I have had Houshang Amiri as my cycling coach, I have ridden several of these camps each off-season, and every time the outcomes of the four-day training camp – not to mention the riders themselves – seem to be more impressive. This makes sense, as Housh (he approves this nickname, ask just about anyone in that Canadian cycling scene!) is a coach who knows how to build his athletes into champions over the long term, while continuing to let them each know that they are capable of reaching the next level and the goals they are striving for. In one of our pre-ride meetings, Houshang reminded us all of this surety he has in every athlete’s potential.

Thursday (Jan 30) was day one of the camp and traditionally this is testing day. Due to road work along Lands End Road we ended up leaving the longer time trial testing until the weekend, but we still endured the shorter test which is a hill climb TT up Willis Point Road. Everyone went off at 30 second intervals, and using one another as motivation (TT’s are always better when you have someone to chase!) we all gave our best effort to the top, where Houshang was waiting with stopwatch in hand. Personally I had a surprisingly good one, beating my best time and also getting one of my better 10 min power numbers. This made me a little worried for the next three days of hard rides, thinking I may have dug a bit deep on day one! Having this benchmark is important for Houshang and for our personal data, so that we both know how things are progressing throughout the off season and also year to year. The rest of the ride was steady endurance, with a slightly harder effort up Dean Park climb in North Saanich. At the end of the day the ride had already surpassed my longest distance this winter, but with the amount of fun had and how my legs were feeling so far, I was itching for more and knew this camp was going to be a solid one.

The next morning, Friday, was the wettest one of the camp. Despite some very soggy conditions, everyone showed up at the office for our usual pre-ride meeting ready to conquer the weather and another big day of training. This ride started out as many of our weekly PCC group rides do with a pilgrimage to the Observatory for some hill repeats. While most riders used these as zone 3 efforts with both seated and standing work, I took this chance to do some 20 second max effort sprints, which is a piece of power data Houshang was missing and which most others had done the previous weekend (I did not have a power meter on that day). After four of these high intensity efforts, I made sure to fuel myself up again so that I could continue riding endurance pace for many hours to come. By this point, the weather was improving, and so the ride plan changed from a slightly shorter day to another long one, where we did a loop of Lands End and then finished with waterfront. The group having shed a few people on the way, by the time we hit the waterfront it was all the women and Chris MacLeod. Since none of us could viably sit beside him while he kept a pace that benefitted him, we formed a train behind him (the ChrisTrain™), and this led to my day ending with my fastest waterfront time to date.

Friday evening many of us gathered once again at the office at Commonwealth Place, this time with no bikes or spandex, but with our minds ready to be expanded by Houshang’s camp seminar. The topics of the evening included goal setting, and energy usage while riding as seen in specific data analysis on Golden Cheetah (a program we use for uploading our training files and sending them to Housh). As someone who loves to look through data after my workouts, but doesn’t always know what to look for or what I am looking at, this was really informative and useful. Setting goals for the 2020 season also acted as a way of re-focusing on why we are doing all this work.

Day three of the camp was likely the hardest day for most of us, and was also my favourite ride of the camp. For those who had not had the pleasure of doing the Willis Point TT on day one (if they had to miss the ride due to school or other reasons), that was first on the menu. Next was the longer Lands End TT test, which we did after a bit of recovery while riding there through Central Saanich. With a slightly new course compared to previous camps, the testing ended up being about 30 mins in duration (for me), which is longer than the usual power tests we do and so acted as a good opportunity to see where our numbers are at for this length of TT. I dug really deep on this effort, having extra motivation when a few others passed me about half-way through and I became determined to re-pass and maintain my steady power until the end. I ended up getting a new PB for my 30 min peak power, which was an exciting take away from the day! The wind having picked up, the remainder of the ride was very blustery. The effort did decrease from our hard time trialling, but the ride took us to all corners of the peninsula and ended up being the longest of the camp. For me it was over 5hrs and 140km, which was my longest ride since last winter. I was surprised to still feel okay on the bike at the end of 5hrs, as often the ‘bonk’ would have fully set in for me on a ride of that length. On a ride like this one, with high intensity portions and lots of endurance it is so important to eat and drink properly. Houshang always reminds us of this, and offers us all food and water when we stop. The Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars were a crowd favourite throughout the camp.

The final day was dry and sunny, if a little cooler in temperature. This ride’s focus was on hill repeats in Dean Park, which features an increasingly steep grade on two sides of a box, and then a short descent for recovery. The instruction from Houshang was to ride between 4 and 5 w/kg until the really steep part and then just make it to the top. Most people crushed this workout, completing anywhere from 5 to 7 laps of the circuit at this hard effort. Unfortunately I was dealing with a sore glute and hip and had to tone things back a bit, but I still got a few reps in. The group then headed towards town again, with a slight detour along Prospect Lake Road and along the Galloping Goose trail to take us to the waterfront, where we ended the day with another fast rip along one of Victoria’s most popular cycling routes. The day came to a close along with the camp, and I think mostly everyone was still sporting a smile. My personal camp stats amounted to 19hrs of riding, 500km ridden, and 5000m climbed over the course of four days. This is definitely the most training I have ever done in that short a time period; luckily the quality of the riding, the company of the other athletes, and the support from Houshang were all amazing throughout, making this big winter training week super enjoyable. Thank you to Pacific Cycling Centre, Houshang, and everyone who supports us athletes in our performance pursuits!

Pacific Cycling Centre is offering athletes an opportunity to register for a Performance Training Camp in March which has an option to prepare and race the Aldergrove Long Road Race on March 29 in Langley, BC. The camp has two four-day options and a six-day option and runs from March 24 – 29 in Victoria, BC.

The camp led by PCC Head Coach Houshang Amiri, will have daily rides from two to five hours in duration with three afternoon track sessions. The rides will have hill climbs and sprinting and have a focus on technique and sharpening cycling skills. The camp will also include a training presentation.

Those wishing to do the Aldergrove RR can choose one of the camp options that includes race preparation, final tuning, an equipment check and nutrition strategy. The camp fee does not include the race registration.

All level of riders are welcomed from different cycling disciplines. Depending on the size of the camp riders will be divided into groups according to their level and ability.

Cost for the four-day camps are $495 + GST and for the six-day camp is $795 + GST

The deadline to apply is February 25.

Go to the Camps page for more information

Amiel – far right – with his bronze medal team. Photo by Canadian Cyclist.

It was a great weekend for Canada at the World Track Nationals at Milton. And an even better one for PCC athlete Amiel Flett-Brown winning bronze in the team pursuit.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more solid team and support from Cycling Canada,” Amiel said.

When Amiel was invited to the National team camp, coach Houshang Amiri changed his training program. “I had to make sure he was ready for selection camp and preparation camp,” he said. “Amiel did an excellent job of following the program while working at a bike shop so he could save for his trip to Milton. I believe this was good learning experience for him and proves you can achieve your dreams when you believe on yourself.”

“A massive thank you to my coach Houshang Amiri and the Pacific Cycling Centre for preparing me for this wild ride. We’re still taking it in,” Amiel said.

PCC athlete Amiel Flett-Brown is competing at the World Cup Track Championships in Milton this weekend. He was selected after his solid performances at the Canadian Track Nationals. He has been training at Milton for the last four weeks in preparation for the Team Pursuit.

“As well as Team Pursuit, I’ve also been selected as Omnium spare, which came as a pretty cool surprise as I had not prepared or expected the role,” Amiel said.

“Having coached Amiel for the last two years he has shown his skill as a rider and can adapt to any situation,” said PCC Head Coach Houshang Amiri. “We wish a very best for Amiel and all his teammates”.

Luke Hubner on the podium. PCC photo

Five PCC athletes took part in the Western Challenge at the Harry Jerome Sports Centre over the weekend. Sanctioned by Cycling Canada, it was hosted by the Burnaby Velodrome Club.

Zoe Saccio and Micaiah Besler were in the elite races and on the first day they came 1st and second in the 500m TT. Aedan Cracker, Parker Swanstrom, Luke Hubner were in the U19 category with Luke winning the IP and Omnium racking up 183 points.

“It was a great weekend of racing and they all worked very hard,” said Head Coach Houshang Amiri.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) has sent out a reminder to the Canadian sport community that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 2020 Prohibited List came into effect January 1, 2020. See their media release here.

https://cces.ca/news/2020-prohibited-list-is-now-effect