What can the stock market teach us about training?

Some of you may have seen a commercial on television from an investment company that poses a question like “….what can a hula hoop teach us about investing…”.  I want to take a page out their book and ask a similar question, “What can the stock market teach us about cycling training and competition?” One answer, of course is to make a fortune on Wall Street, quit your job, retire, and train all the time. Unfortunately, although that may be the answer for some, it is not feasible for most of us.

Let’s ask some common cycling/training related questions. Do we achieve our training and event goals? Do we have fun? I want to repeat that – Do we have fun? Is training a chore or a thrill? What are your highs and lows? The majority of us are in this sport to improve and when we don’t show the amount of improvement we are hoping for; we look to understand what happened. This leads back to my original question, and the answer is: It’s all about trends.

The stock market can teach us about our approach to training. The market is about trends. It’s not about day to day changes (or, preferably, gains); it’s about a long-term return on our investments (historically 11%). This is the same way we should view our training seasons. 

The important factor to examine is the direction of the trend.   Are we improving? Are we accomplishing our goals? Are we learning new aspects of the sport? Are we learning something new about ourselves? Are we meeting and enjoying new people with the same goals? 

Let me give you another analogy. When we are trying to lose weight, we are advised not to weigh ourselves every morning.  Rather we are encouraged to jump on the scale once a week, at the same time of the day (e.g., Monday mornings). It’s the overall trend of your weight, not the day to day fluctuations (which can sometimes vary by as much as 3-5 pounds) that matter. The same goes for us in our training and events. We all have down cycles.  We will have days or even weeks when we don’t perform as well as we want. So, in keeping with the Stock Market analogy, it’s not as important to look at a single “window” of training and competition, but to look at the big picture and the overall trend of improvement.

It is important to recognize that as we become better athletes, our rate of improvement will slow.   Have you gained fitness, have you gained confidence, have you gained new skills, what has been your level of improvement?  

Also, it is important to understand that the more we improve, the more difficult days we may have. The good news is that our good days will be at a higher level than ever before, but they may be more infrequent than they were when we were less fit. This becomes even more true the older we get. If we don’t understand this phenomenon, we may view our lack of progress as “failure.” Of course, it is vital to understand when we have genuinely reached a “plateau”.  This means that we likely need to change our training regimen in order to continue our improvement and to mentally “mix it up”. It is important to be able to have a clear perspective on where we are in our development as athletes, so we are able to view these difficult days and (occasionally) weeks as part of an upward trend.  

How can we track these important trends? How do we know if we are improving and really moving in a positive direction?

To track our physical progress, we can setup periodic physiological testing. Testing is an optimal way to chart improvement. The lab setting allows us to eliminate external variables and track progress in important markers (such as watts per kilo at threshold, a measure which changes with fitness level). With our athletes at Athleticamps, we like to setup two types of goals, physiological goals and event goals.

If performance testing is not readily available to you, set up field tests with a power meter. Choose a course and test yourself periodically throughout the year to see if there is power improvement.   Strava is another method to view improvement, although it only recognizes time ignoring other factors. In other words, there are a lot of external variables. If you are not seeing improvement, it may be necessary to review and reflext on your training habits. 

Find a good cycling coach! Find a coach that not only send you workouts, but also “coaches” and teaches you. Someone, you will sit down with you and discuss all the other aspects of the sport beyond just the specific workouts. Set goals, track them and have a relationship that allows for open discussion of many issues ranging from weight management to life stress. The physical workouts (training program) should be only one portion of what a coach helps you with.

Monitor your self-talk. What are you truly saying to yourself? Is your attitude good or is it bad? Are you saying encouraging and realistic things to yourself? Remember, how you view yourself will often times be reflected in your performance.

Always be thinking of the big picture and focus on the positive.  Your growth as an athlete and a person comes from persevering during the difficult times and maintaining awareness that challenging moments are only temporary.   Accept the reality that lifestyle, training time, and event success may fluctuate and likely eventually plateau over time. 

Taking on the challenge to become a better athlete is a major commitment. One of the most important things to remember is that it is all about the journey. Training, tracking trends, and the ups and downs are all about the journey! You should pat yourself on the back for taking on this challenge of moving the trend of improvement in an upward direction. And one more thing, if you do have a good stock tip, PLEASE pass it on!



Overcoming your fears

I am frequently asked, “What is the most common observation in athletes that needs improvement?”  Well, I am no psychologist (although I do have an excellent recommendation), but the answer is very simple, most athletes just need to learn how to RELAX both physically and mentally; to chill, to let it go, to have more fun, to kick it!

 The Problem (or Opportunity) 

What I see is both a physical and mental “tightness” when an athlete lacks self-confidence in the task he or she is about to take on.  Most athletes have some sort of fear in cycling (or running or swimming), whether it is climbing, descending, pack riding, or field sprints.  Physically, this is manifested with stiff, straight arms, or white knuckles. This tightness leads to decreased performance because excess energy is used to control the fear.  Shallow breathing develops and decreases performance even more.  From a mental standpoint, the athlete loses focus, gets short-tempered, and is pretty much doing everything counter-productive to successfully achieving his or her goal.  We’ve all been there, when we have had that feeling of failure before we even start, and in turn became our own nemesis!

 The Solution

The good news is there is a solution.  I won’t lie to you and say it’s easy, because it isn’t.  The key is to just RELAX.  Of course, it’s easier said than done, but just think about it for a minute.  You work so hard on the bike (running/swimming). You investigate every physical workout possible, looking for the magic.  You dedicate yourself to achieving your goals, and everything seems to go up in smoke because of nerves.  Don’t get me wrong, nerves are good.  Nerves tell us that we are capable of doing well in threatening situations. On the other hand, like anything else, too much of a good thing can be detrimental.

 The first thing to do is next time you are out riding and come into one of these situations is to first recognize it.  As an example: let’s take a narrow, twisty, screaming decent (like the canyons on Highway 49 in Auburn.)  You’re riding with your friends and all of a sudden you realize this descent is coming up in the next couple miles.  You are already making excuses to yourself that you will be behind at the bottom of the descent. You drift away from the conversation as your mind is beginning to be occupied with negative thoughts.   You start the downhill and you notice you are gripping the bars like there is no tomorrow.  Your breathing is shallow, you take strange lines through the corners that no one in their right mind would, and your friends disappear ahead of you in an instant! You get to the bottom and your friends are going slow, chatting about something, and waiting for YOU.  You feel awkward and wish you could just descend the way they do.  The thing is, you can!  All you have to do is gain confidence through learning to RELAX.  

 Here are four tips to help you overcome these types of situations:

  • Patience, remember most importantly that it takes time.  Miracles of the mind don’t occur overnight.

  • Small steps - Try this experiment.  The next few days you ride, concentrate on just one part of your body to relax throughout the ride.  For example, focus on relaxing your arms.  Don’t worry about anything else, just the arms. Then, the next day, concentrate on your facial muscles and go through the same drill.  Take a lesson from the golfers who work on just one component at a time, as they do with their swing.  Continue doing this each day.

  • Talk it up – Take the specific fear to your friends, coach, wife, husband or whoever will listen and care.  Talk it out. Have them help you. Sometimes talking about an issue helps verbalized something you haven’t been able to put into words. Don’t feel like you have to overcome the fear on your own.  It’s amazing what how talking about a problem will help solve it.

  • Get some help from a qualified coach - When we do our 1:1 workouts, we specifically address these situations. For example, with both climbing and descending, there are specific form techniques and strategies that can be worked on and perfected.

 Learn to relax and it’s amazing how you will change for the better, both physically and mentally. And all that effort you put into accomplishing your goals will be realized and you will have more fun doing it!



Live long and prosper

Spock and Kirk

Spock and Kirk

“Live Long and Prosper.”  This quote has become part of our modern day lexicon.   Who can forget the spread fingers and parting salutations from one of the most recognizable characters in TV and movie history – Mr. Spock.  Spock, being a Vulcan, was cerebral and calculating, always deferring to logic in situations that required a decision or action.  “That is logical.” He was the antithesis of Captain Kirk, who in his emotions and instincts was a natural leader and risk taker, gambling the fate of the federation on a hunch.

If you have had the opportunity to watch the Star Trek movie released in 2009, you saw how these two diverse characters developed from childhood.  How different they were and how together, they perfectly complemented each other, after they learned to get along of course.

These two personalities are embodied in athletes and can be fairly easily identified.  Neither one is necessarily better than the other and both certainly have their place.  

Can you tell which character you are or which one you lean towards in your training program?  

Mr. Spock – analysis rules and decisions are made based on risk versus reward.  Mr. Spock’s know their power numbers and stay within themselves in any situation. Attacks are calculated: so many watts for so many minutes.  A Spock racer has studied the course and knows the best places to attack, where the course will be hard, which direction the wind is blowing, etc.  They also are familiar with the competition and what they do well.  Each move or counter move is filtered through a filter of what makes the most sense.  A win or placing is always the result of hard work and preparation.  Mr. Spock is obvious to spot during training and group rides.  They are the ones that are serious, chatting only during warm up and cool down.  During the ride they are highly focused and efficient, talking only when necessary and only about the training.  Route selections and terrain are carefully selected to achieve the desired workout results, and when the right mix of route and goals do not align the trainer is the logical choice.

Kirk, on the other hand, reacts.  Everything is based on feel and instinct.  Attacks are made when they feel good or when they feel something is dangerous.  Kirk never wants to be bored and just sit in the field, even though that would mean conserving energy.  When bridging to a break there is no calculation of time, distance, or effort, it’s just go as hard as you can until you get there.  Kirk grabs the race by throat and goes for broke.  If along the way he blows up, Kirk will chalk it up to an effort attempted – the chips were all on the table.  Kirk’s training habits are typically not as tight and calculated. Not that the training is bad, it’s just more by feel.  If it’s raining he may just as soon stay inside and relax to save it for a nicer day.  Group rides present endless opportunities to socialize and have fun.  Laughs are always the order of the day….until the friendly attacking begins, then it is game on.  

We all know Kirks and Spocks.  At Athleticamps, with all the different levels and ages of athletes that come through our doors, we are able to help athletes improve by understanding them as people and recommending approaches that can help improve their training and achieve goals ranging from racing to personal Strava records.    

In recent professional ranks history, the most obvious Kirk would be Jens Voigt.  He is a bike racer cut from the old cloth, attack until you cannot go anymore.  He may lose more than he wins, but he never goes down without fighting.  On the other side, Bradley Wiggins made a great Spock.  Calculating, precise, strategic and cool as a cucumber. Picking races wisely, focused training that targets the main objectives, and staying with the plan.  Each type has its benefits and drawbacks, but neither is wrong.

Who are those people around you?  Who are you?  And after you figure it out, try injecting a bit of the opposite into your training and racing programs.  You may be surprised as to how much it will benefit you!

Live long and prosper!

Ride safe, ride comfortable, ride strong!

Want some information on cycling or triathlon coaching?


Have you stopped improving?

It happens to all athletes at some point in their careers.  Whether you’re a professional or amateur racer, or a cycling enthusiast, all athletes go through a time where the improvement process stalls. 

For some it can be a plateau, even though they’re putting in an immense amount of work.  For others, not only do they not improve, they feel like their fitness is going backwards.  That feeling can be extremely frustrating and take a big toll on morale.  

Let’s examine some different angles on this common subject and see if we can get a good perspective on why it may be happening and what to do about it.  One note:  We are not examining lack of improvement due to overtraining or excess fatigue.  Although very valid, that is a rather large topic and not the focus of this article.  Being slightly fatigued or tired is part of a normal training program.  If your fatigue is excess and consistent, you have another more important issue to address. 

What we can learn from corporations - The first question you need ask yourself is simply; where are you coming up with the conclusion that you are not improving.  And additionally, whom are you comparing yourself to?  

It’s hard to compare fitness week to week (or year to year) in race situations or group riding environments, because each race/ride has different demands and competition.  In other words, there are too many external variables to use this as a valid indicator of fitness. Getting yourself on a good performance testing or power profiling program may be just what you need to really understand how your fitness is stacking up month-to-month and year-over-year.  

Think about how cool it would be to have years of performance tests (or power profiles) to truly understand where you stand from a fitness perspective. This type of ongoing data analysis allows you to get a visual on your current fitness level, and what it takes to get to another level or back to where you were previously. 

As it’s stated in the subject line, it’s analogous to companies comparing their books month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, and year-to-year.  Can you imagine a major public company not doing comparisons and just guessing at how they are doing? It would be ridiculous!  So why shouldn’t an athlete do the same types of comparisons as companies do?  Bottom line here is that you really don’t know which direction your fitness is going until you track it.  Once you begin tracking it over time, you can gain a true perspective on where you stand fitness-wise. 

The base of the pyramid (or lack of)  - When new athletes come and visit us for the first time, one of the first questions we ask is what their training program has been in the past.  You would be surprised how many athletes tend to understand the basics of training, yet how few apply it to themselves.  They don’t take the necessary time to work on one of the major components of a complete training program: The base level of aerobic fitness. Not defining “base” and applying it over time is probably the single most popular reason athletes don’t improve like they expect. 

Not having a proper base can lead to a very “rollercoaster” season, with many ups and down in terms of how you feel and what your body gives you during any given day.   One week you are feeling great, the next, you are wondering what the heck you are doing on the bike! First defining what base is right for you is important.  Every athlete is different in his or her needs.  Then taking the time through consistent training is necessary to build the foundation for a solid year and career.  The longer it takes to get fit, the longer you stay fit!   

Who are you training with? - Being successful means being single-minded. Single-minded is doing what’s right for you. One of the primary factors riders don’t improve is they ride with the wrong groups. It’s important to ride with groups at the right times, as they can push you past your comfort level. Remember, in cycling, the sum of the whole is greater than it’s individual parts. A lot of riders aren’t prepared to ride in certain groups, but they mistakenly think going hard most of the time will lead to improved fitness. This can’t be further from the truth. A good training program combines many different elements. We have had many athletes where we took them out of the group environment for an extended period. We then prescribed a program that was right for them and was tailored for their fitness level and goals. The result, their fitness skyrocketed! Ask yourself whether the group you ride in is best for your fitness at this current time.

Patience– We live in a 24-hour society where results are expected quickly. If they don’t occur, most become impatient and stray from the plan, search for another coach, and blame anything and everything.  Getting fit takes time and you must commit to a program and stick with it for a while to see if it helps.  In general you will make significant gains early in your career, then plateau.  Make sure you get some perspective from your coach as to where you are in this timeline.  Obviously at some point, you may need to search for a different style of training, but for the most part, understand where you are in the big picture and have perspective. 

Life One of the hardest things to understand and accept for most athletes is that it is primarily the limitations of life off the bike, and our chosen environment, that dictates how far we go in the sport.  Most athletes who come to us have the required physiology to do well in the sport, but it’s their lifestyle off the bike that limits their development.  At the professional level, there are no boundaries, as bike racing is what they do for a living.  Their whole focus in life is bike racing and their athletic development.   

At the amateur level, it’s another story. When you line up at the start line every Saturday, the chief referee doesn’t ask all riders who had to travel for work the last week to raise their hand, so they can get a head start.  The reality is that most of amateur racers have jobs, kids, and responsibilities and can only devote a limited amount of time and energy to our hobby.  That is where the comparison thing to other racers and training partners get’s tricky, as certain riders sacrifice more than others and have different priorities.   

It’s not easy to see and understand this concept. Each person must gain perspective on where they stand and what they are willing to sacrifice to improve in the sport. 

The last thing you want to do is compare yourself to another friend, teammate or competitor, even though the temptation is there to do so.  Every athlete is unique and comes from a different athletic and life background and mindset.  Just because they do something that’s helpful for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you.  If you give two people starting at the same fitness level (watts per kilo at threshold as an example) the same training program, you would not expect they would achieve the same fitness level.  And this is only using the physical training program as an example.  There is not a training program in the world that measures sacrifice, emotion, and perseverance of an individual.   The key point to remember is when you look at another athlete, you really have no idea as to what they are doing or thinking.  Learn from other athletes, but focus on what it takes for you to improve. 


As we stated at the beginning of the article, everyone goes through a time period (if not many) when they are not improving and their morale is tested.  It’s all part of being an athlete.  Understanding that there are ups and downs is part of the journey.  The key is to have a good plan, good guidance and good perspective! Stay level headed and know that “this too shall pass.”


Thinking of purchasing a new bike?

These days purchasing a new bike that fits your needs and budget can be quite a challenge. So many brands and models exist, different geometries, various components groups, etc,. Add to that all the ever changing technology, wheel choices, and most importantly, making sure the bike fits you properly, and you’ve got a buying experience that can be very complicated.

Our adjustable bike allows us to define multiple sizes and geometries

Over the past 8 years, we have helped countless cyclists and triathletes specifically with this process utilizing our New Bike Fitting service.  Athleticamps takes pride in being your “bike consultant” or “bike concierge”, helping you find the right choice to fit all of your needs.  Here is a brief summary of this valuable three step process:

  • Frame identification (1.5-2 hours) - Finding the right size bike is more than just determining small, medium or large or 52, 54 or 56cm.  It is understanding your needs and finding the right frame geometry that works for you.  Each manufacturer has different models.  As an example - Trek has the Domane, Emonda, and Madone models, each one with a different geometry (defined simply as different lengths of tubes and different angles within the same “size” bike).  So in Trek’s case, their Madone 54cm is drastically different than their Domane 54cm.

    By using our fully adjustable bike and 3D motion capture system (see video below), we take the guess work out of this process by being able to quickly create any bike’s dimensions to “pre-fit” and determine if a particular frame will work for you.  We can then add in any stem length, saddle, handlebar width, and stack height and get an accurate assessment of the overall fit on that particular brand/model.  The ultimate goal of Step 1 is to determine a specific list of bikes that will work and not work for you.

  • Purchase the bike and additional consulting (as long as you want) - After we come up with the specifics,  you go purchase the bike (with our assistance).  We help guide you through a variety of options: what components to buy (Shimano, SRAM or Campy), electronic vs mechanical shifting, carbon or alloy wheels, disc vs rim brakes, etc.  We may also come across a bike not assessed and we can run the numbers to verify whether or not it will work.

    We highly recommend, if possible, to test ride the bike options.  Prior to the test ride, we supply the shop with measurements (from step 1) to ensure the bike is setup according to your specifications.  This will give you a good idea as to how that bike will feel on the road and also give us a basis to discuss the pros and cons of each bike.  When bikes are not available to test ride (e.g. some of the Italian brands) our new bike fitting service becomes more valuable.

  • Final Fit (~1.5 hours) - You have now bought the bike of your dreams and you feel good about the money you just spent. It’s time to do the final fitting!  This step doesn’t take too long because all the research has been done upfront.  But there are still some details and fit refinement that have to be addressed (based on the bike you have chosen).  Some of the common adjustments during this step are a stem change, grip angle adjustment and stack height, and possibly choosing a different saddle.

In summary, buying a bike can be a challenging experience.  The primary value of going through this process is knowing that you are getting the right bike for your needs and taking control of the purchasing process. You can go through the purchase with confidence knowing you bought the ride bike for your needs and budget.

Contact us to setup your new bike purchase here.

New bike fitting process utilizing our fully adjustable bike and 3D motion capture system.

Italy was made for riding your bike!

Every time we take a group to Italy, it never ceases to amaze me how cycling and Italy seems to have been made for each other. There are endless roads through vineyards, small towns, and the mountains that make each day on the bike an adventure. The locals are friendly, relaxed, and there is always someone that proclaims, “It would be great to move here!”

The 2018 trip was the first time we visited the region around Basso Del Grappa (only 1 hour from Venice) and one thing is for sure, it did not disappoint and we are headed back in 2019!

From a riding perspective, there are multiple terrain options. We can ride into the Dolomite mountain range, roll along the foothills and Brenton river valley (similar to the terrain around Loomis, Rocklin and Granite Bay) or even have dead flat roads suited for recovery days. The reason is our hotel is situated right at the foot of a unique geography of Mount Grappa and one of the most famous paragliding locations in the world. As you can see from the pictures, it’s riding like you have never done before with little traffic and spectacular views around every switchback.

When we design our trips we purposly include many cultural and historical options. Don’t get me wrong, we still do tons of riding, but also like to balance our riding with the local culture. Whether it’s traveling to hill top towns or visiting World War I history that took place in the area, every day also takes advantage of the local region off the bike. That is why we offer a non-rider option (like a spouse), so they too can take advantage of what this part of Italy has to offer.

A typical day is riding in the morning, back to hotel for lunch, hook up with the group that took a morning cultural trip and spend the afternoon together traveling to another regional location and then returning for dinner. It’s a schedule that works good and keeps everyone extremely busy!

Pedal assisted bikes are becoming very popular in Italy these days and we are also looking at next year offering that option, so everyone can take advantage of the area the way it was meant to be, on a bike!

Some of the many pictures and video are listed below, you can also view them in the Italy 2018 picture gallery here. We hope you join us in 2019! If interested, contact us here.

The Athleticamps staff

2018 Picture Gallery

2018 Italy Video

Our Three Pillars of Bike Fitting Success

Trust me when I say, every bike fit really is unique to each person.   Each rider requires a different focus with some combination of elements that will allow them to leave with a fit best suited for their riding style, goals, and body type.  

The benefit of using a high tech tool like Retül's 3D motion analysis system, is it gives us an accurate assessment while in motion (pedaling) of where you sit on the bike relative to the geometry and components.  Secondly, it allows us to accurately track changes. For example, when you tilt a saddle, how does that affect your position relative to the bottom bracket?  

Let's look at it another way:  When you visit your doctor, wouldn't you rather have him or her use the best technology to assess a potential problem you may have? Think of Retul as the MRI or echo cardiogram of bike fitting.  Like those medical devices, they don't tell the doctor what to do, but give him or her accurate data and information to assess your situation and take the proper course of action.  Over the years, after doing over 1500+ fits using this great tool, we have developed three pillars of bike fitting that help us guide each fit:

  1. Comfort - The goal is to eliminate discomfort or pain.  Comfort may come in the form of part changes, like a saddle or new Footbalance inserts or adjustments to help eliminate numbness (most popular) and/or back pain.  More often than not, eliminating pain has to be approached off the bike too, first, by identifying exactly what the issue is.  For example, you can't fix a sound in your engine of your car without knowing what is causing it.  This is specifically why we spend a significant amount of time prior to each fit discussing each rider's situation and what they are trying to accomplish with their fitting.  We have you also fill out a history questionnaire prior to your appointment so we can be prepared for your visit, ready to tackle any problems.
  2. Performance - Getting the most of the bike's geometry and how the athlete sits or stands on their bike.  Are you getting the most power per pedal stroke?   Many riders are setup incorrectly for their given frame geometry.  The trick is finding the balance between you and the geometry to make sure overall comfort is attained.
  3. Safety -  Could be the most important (and overlooked) element of bike fitting. So many riders we see are not weight-distributed on the bike correctly.  Too little or too much weight in the wrong area.   Once we address that issue, the bike can do what it’s meant to do these days; handle well and thus open the door to better safety.

Remember, all three of these elements are  interlaced.   We have to approach each one like a chess board square, but make sure we are taking the complete picture into account.  And that is why ever bike fit is unique to each person!  

Visit us to get your bike fitting solution!  Or if you are looking to purchase a new bike, we can pre-fit you and assist in purchasing the right bike for you! 


Is setting goals enough?

Obviously, setting goals is a major "to do" when it comes to coaching endurance athletes.  With 20+ years of experience, setting realistic goals that are attainable for each unique athlete has become more of a creative art.    

At Athleticamps, we focus on two specific categories.  More improtantly though, there is an underlying principle or philosophy that we apply  to those two categories that help our athletes achieve them.   We will discuss this principle later in the article. First, let's discuss the two categories:

  • Event goals - Setting event goals are pretty straightforward. Perhaps you want to do a specific event like the Markleeville Death ride.  Or you want to peak for a specific race or set of races.  Basically looking at the calendar and giving yourself enough time is the primary prerequisite.  And as a coach, making sure you are capable of those events is obviously important.  For example, if a development racer says he wants to do the Tour de France next year, I would have to pat him on the back and say, "I like your enthusiasm, but let's set that one a bit longer out in the future" :-) 
  • Physiological or training goals - We believe there is a lot of value in  tracking progress through performance testing (indoors) and data analysis (outdoors).  A simple analogy would be businesses setting revenue and expense goals and reviewing them quarterly to see if they are on track or not.  Or if you work with a investment planner, you would want to meet with that person and see how your money is doing and what particulars made your net worth go up or down, hopefully up.  Why wouldn't athletes treat their training and goals the same way?  This aspect of your program is a bit more tricky and in-depth in that it involves understanding the athlete, their background, and personality.  But as a coach, this is what we love and enjoy and do on a daily basis.  There is no simple canned approach because every athlete is different and requires different "ingredients" to improve.  And again, just like with event goals, it requires a knowledgeable coach that can help you navigate through all the training philosophies and "stuff" you read and listen to and make things as simple as possible.

As important as understanding that we need to set these two categories of goals, there is an underlying principle that needs to be applied and is much more important: Teaching proper training techniques.  

Through my experience, goals are achieved not by solely focusing on statements like "let's get you to 300w for a 20' power test" or "You want to ride 21mph or 50 miles".  They are achieved by teaching athletes how to train properly. The goals are a byproduct of that philosophy.   Don't get me wrong, the two categories of goals are important to every program, as that is the light at the end of the tunnel.  But it's teaching how to navigate through that tunnel which is more important.  

We love athletes that not only want to achieve goals, but want to learn how to train properly and ask the proper questions.  After all, you as an athlete are out there dedicating the time and sweat . It's important to  understand what you are doing and why.  Being a coach is also about being an educator.

We believe that our unique environment at Athleticamps fosters this philosophy.  We are not just a training center with over 20+ years of experience, we are a think tank and learning center. We offer all the ingredients needed to make your individual recipe work!  We love athletes take on challenges, want to learn and understand that being a successful athlete includes setting goals and knowing there are ups and downs when achieving their goals.

Stop by, say hello and let's talk about teaching you what it takes to get there!

Ride safe, ride strong....


What does every Master's Level Athlete Have in Common?

The number of Master’s athletes has dramatically increased over the past two decades. And right up there in popularity are the cyclists including road, off-road (fastest growing) and triathletes. According to USA Cycling’s website, 53% of members are age 35-54 and only 19% are ages 19-34. Looking at cycling versus running clubs is always a good indicator. There are definitely not as many older runners, probably because running can be so destructive on the body over time, so a lot of older athletes (ex-runners) are finding the bike to be the key to continued activity and enjoyment. 

As far as we know, there are few longitudinal studies that measure physiological systems with a focus on performance of athletes as they age.  Most studies on athletes are done with younger, fitter athletes.  There are now more studies being done on master’s level athletes.  But few follow them through their lifetimes.  So, we are left to hear first hand from our Master’s athletes as to what actually declines with age in terms of their performance. The key is that by understanding these changes, it can allow us to adapt training programs to achieve maximal success.

As coaches, we are continuously amazed at how well master’s athletes can perform, especially versus younger athletes.  Unfortunately though, there is still a decline in performance as we get older. Let’s briefly look at some of the physiological changes that we notice:

  • Cardiovascular Function – This is made up of declines in central and peripheral circulation, maximum heart rate, maximal stroke volume, and cardiac output. Maximal heart rate is the one we notice the most, as heart rate is something we have monitored during training since the invention and increased popularity of portable heart monitors 30 years ago.

    When I ask some of my friends/athletes that I have known for years, considering the fact that they have stayed active, their maximal heart rates have all dropped anywhere in the range of 5-20 beats/minute.  This, in turn, directly leads to performance declines and heart rate zones need to be “recalibrated” periodically.

    If this subject really interests you, seek out a cardiologist with an interest in sports performance and them about intrinsic heart rate and b-adrenergic receptors as we age.  There is an excellent study here that discusses this very subject.
  • Body Composition – Ah, the dreaded body composition shift.  There is no doubt, that losing weight, especially, that last 2-3 kilos ranks right up there with many performance goals of the Master’s athlete. They do go hand in hand in that losing the extra weight usually requires a consistent training program.

    There are three primary reasons we gain that extra baggage. 1) Diet  2) less physical activity and 3) the body’s ability to mobilize fat.  Consider this as a side note:  If you consume just 10 calories per day more than your burn for 10 years, that’s additional 10 pounds!  So, what can be done?  One thing is for sure; it can sometimes require harder work and dedication than the physical training program itself.  Seek out a good nutritionist who has had success with athletes.  Have them review your eating habits and have them be the person who holds you accountable.  It’s important to understand that the weight you held in college may not be the weight that is currently optimal for you.  Good advice and a good program can help determine the optimal body composition. 
  • Respiratory Function (VO2) - There is a lot of conflicting evidence on this one, as most anything related to physiology.  But the consensus is that you lose about 10% of your maximal aerobic capacity per decade whether you are sedentary or active. Losing your maximal VO2 is usually related to a decline in your maximal HR, body composition, and amount and changes in your training programs as life gets more complicated and different priorities arise, like life!
  • Recovery from training – Again, there really hasn’t been that much research done on the decline of recovery as we age.  All you have do is listen to athletes and friends for the past 20 years.  It definitely declines.  The question is why?  

Remember that there are two important components regarding why we need recovery.  1) We break down muscle/tissue when we exercise, amongst other physiological systems and 2) the ability to repair or recharge those same systems. We could point to a variety of factors, including diet, amount of rest, training status, as to why it requires more time.  The bottom line is that most master’s level athletes say they need more time to recover between efforts, thus affecting the amount of training that can be done in their programs.

To us, the key is fitting workouts together like a puzzle. For example, perhaps one day the focus of the workout is strength type efforts, where the cardiovascular system is not overly stressed, but the essential component of strength is benefited.  The next day, a focus can be more aerobic.   In other words, you are working on different “systems” on different days.

One addition item.  In a recent study, 75% of athlete’s polled (not sure of the amount in the study, but it was large) said they applied some type of recovery program to their training, like recovery drinks, massage, etc.  I still thing the biggest and most important, regardless of all the other things you try is sleep.

  • Thirst – The body has an amazing ability to keep “osmolality” or the fluid balance in and out of cells in balance.  It’s called being thirsty.  That’s how the body monitors hydration status (not weight.) The problem is that as we get older we lose our ability to detect thirst and there are a lot of variables that affect our ability to detect it.  For example, how many times have you heard that a rider forgot to drink, as they were so focused on the race or event itself?

We don’t believe that monitoring weight before and after workouts should be the sole method of monitoring hydration status. The color of your urine should be slightly yellow (not dark yellow) and you should be visiting the bathroom every couple hours.

  • Heat – I can first hand attest to this one.  It really seems like the older we get, the more sensitive we are to heat.  It could be related to a decline in our sweating capacity, but it sure seems like we still sweat a lot!  The good thing about heat is that it really doesn’t take that long to adapt, perhaps a week.  Take your time doing it, stay out of extreme weather variations and make sure you continue to hydrate yourself, as you use more glycogen stores because of the loss of fluids.


First, the obvious: It’s inevitable that there will be a decrease in performance as we age and the reason for those decreases are very complicated and somewhat different for every athlete. For example, just because your teammate’s max HR has declined “X” amount, that doesn’t mean yours will by the same percentage.  The question is how much decline in your overall performance will you experience, and what can you do about it to minimize the decrease?

Second, the positive: It used to be (not too long ago) that once you were over the age of 25-30, give or take, it was all downhill in terms of your ability to be a fit athlete.  I remember a prominent figure in the sport saying that cyclists shouldn’t go to college, because it took away from their ability to be good bike racers.

The reality of today is that masters are getting into the sport at a later age and their ability to adapt to aerobic and anaerobic training and improve is absolutely amazing.  You cannot believe how many times I hear, “I wish I started this when I was younger.”   Well, if you jump ahead 10 years from now, you are younger.

So, what is in our control?

From a health perspective, there is no down side to riding a bike, except perhaps too much sun, crashing, and decreased bone density because it is not a weight bearing sport, but these things are independent of the benefits we achieve. 

By understanding and recognizing some of the changes listed above, training programs can be adapted to achieve maximal fitness.  It’s important to also understand that it’s not just one thing that contributes to decreased performance, but many things that are dependent on each other.  We are very complex machines!


A bit of cycling history...

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cycling history?  It could be a great rider like Eddy Merkyx or classic races like Paris-Roubaix and the Giro d’ Italia.  When it’s narrowed down to cycling equipment, the bike that best conjures up images of history is the Italian company of Bianchi, which boasts an amazing 130-year history, not to mention one of the most recognized paint colors in all of sport; the unmistakable “Bianchi Blue” or “Celeste.” 

The history of one of the world’s top bicycles started back in 1885 when then 21-year-old Edoardo Bianchi opened his small bicycle shop focusing on repairs in Milan’s via Nirone.  After just 3 years in the business, he created his first bicycle and as soon as 1896 began using his bicycles in races as a testing ground, which was a totally new concept at the time.  Within 3 years of entering the racing scene, Bianchi Bicycles had their first international victory in the Grand Prix of Paris, the prelude to the Tour de France.

He is also credited with originating a manufacturing concept called “Reparto Corse” which literally translates to: “racing department.” This revolutionary process intends to “create for the purpose of winning.”  By utilizing the race environment to rigorously test his products, Bianchi was able to dramatically improve the bikes that reached the average rider. In Italy today, you see the revolutionary and highly effective “Reparto Corse” process applied in companies like Ferrari, Ducati and Alfa Romero.  Using this philosophy to guide the development of his bicycles, Bianchi became “the” brand of bicycle racing in the early 20th century.

Bianchi was frequently ahead of his time.  For example, he was the first bicycle manufacturer to create a bicycle with pneumatic tires (air.)  He is also credited with creating the first women’s bike in 1895 as a special commission for Queen Margherita, at Villa Reale in Monza. Bianchi travels to court to present the bicycle and provide riding lessons to the Queen.  He invented the first mountain bike in 1915, which was developed for the “bersaglieri,” the elite Italian light infantry division during World War I. With these achievements, Edoardo Bianchi became known as the grandfather of the modern bicycle, just as Henry Ford is considered the grandfather of the automobile.

In between the World Wars, Bianchi continued to develop his line of bicycles and win many races, like the Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia.   In 1940, the great Italian Champion Fausto Coppi began to ride for Team Bianchi. During World War II, the factory was destroyed by bombs, but was eventually rebuilt in 1946.  Around this time their famous bluish-green color “celeste” or “Bianchi Blue” was created.  There are some of the theories (or myths) as to where this highly recognized color came from:

  • Eduardo created the color in honor of Italy’s Queen Margherita’s beautiful eyes.

  • It was Eduardo’s homage to Milan and its beautiful sky, or “celeste”.

  • Bianchi had so much surplus green paint from Mussolini’s WWII reign that they mixed it with blue to create a unique color.

  • Edoardo created it to be a unique standout in the peloton and through a few different variations, the color naturally developed to what it is today.

  • Still another story was that celeste was a complete paint mixing mistake done on the team bikes only days before the Giro d’Italia. Fausto Coppi and his teammates thought the bikes were purposely painted that way for good luck.

  • Wherever the color originated (it looks more green than blue), it remains one of the most recognized and sought after colors in sport.

Today, Bianchi bicycles continue their use of the “Reparto Course” concept and outfit the best professional riders in the world.  

Bianchi USA, based in Northern California (Hayward), realizes that continuing their successful history requires a lot of hard work and dedication.  Keeping up with the aggressiveness of other manufacturers like Trek and Specialized is a difficult task.

“As a world-wide company, the main message that Bianchi wants to get across to its consumers is that it doesn’t matter if you are a pro racer or a club rider. Our new bikes, the pro level, technically advanced 928 SL or the more recreational Coast to Coast model meet all levels of need. The bottom line is that Bianchi has a bike that’s right for you,” said Mark Ashley, Bianchi USA’s National Sales Manager.

With more history than any other bike company in the world comes the experience needed to design a superb product. “Our experience has given Bianchi a great foundation for moving forward and is why Bianchi continues to design products that are at the technological cutting edge while simultaneously meeting consumer demands,” said Ashley.

Sometimes having a great history causes a company to fall back on their past achievements: Bianchi, however, feels compelled by their history to continue creating the best products available and ones that would make Eduardo proud.


Why did I crash?

The worst kind of crash is the one leaving us with the very question; how did this happen?


Nothing invokes more fear and trepidation about getting back on the bike than not understanding why we crashed in the first place.  If we don’t know the reason for the crash, how are we to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

As a result of a crash, one of two scenarios typically happen:

1.     We stop riding in situations that are similar to which were present when we crashed.  For example, if we crashed while descending, we stop choosing routes that have significant descents.   If we crashed on a group ride, we may avoid riding with friends and teammates.

2.     We muster up the strength to get back on the bike and convince ourselves that it won’t happen again and simply hope for the best.

Either of these two choices has negative ramifications.  If we choose to alter the type of riding we do to avoid the possibility of crashing; we allow fear and uncertainty to rob us of our passion.  Secondly, if we jump right back onto the bike without a full understanding what caused the crash, we are asking for trouble and may end up with a short lived cycling hobby as the potential for injury is high.

So what is the solution to safe and confident riding?

Check the ego at the door
Understand that just because we’ve ridden bikes from a very early age, that doesn’t mean that we were taught the key fundamentals of safe riding.  We often hear, “I’ve been riding all sorts of bikes my whole life.   I know what I’m doing.”   While that is most often the case, how many were taught these key safety components

  • Utilizing proper vision
  • Understanding energy/weight dynamics
  • Understanding and establishing the true apex on different types of turns
  • Using reference points to your advantage
  • How counter steering plays a role in cornering a bike
  • How to protect yourself during a group ride
  • Most of us were not taught any of these essential skills that are the essential ingredients to safe riding.

Invest in yourself and make the commitment
You’ve spent thousands of dollars on an amazing bicycle and have the best gear to match. You have committed to the sport of cycling and hope to continue for a lifetime.  Recognize that you may further enjoy cycling with the additional competence, confidence, and safety that learning bike skills provides.

Understand that learning skills is just that, it’s a learning process and it takes time.   Everyone starts at a different skill level and progresses at different rates.   It’s just like using your phone to find and drive somewhere.  Know where you are starting, where you are going and how to get there.

In summary, these two elements are necessary to become a safer, and a more competent bike rider. You must be open to the idea that there is more to this thing that simply doing what you have always done. Albert Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results”.

We love teaching bike handling skills at Athleticamps. We have built a proven method that has a long history of helping riders become safer, confident, and subsequently more effective on the bike.

To learn more about us and our S.A.F.E approach to helping riders become better at handling the bicycle in all conditions, click here.

Ride safe, ride strong

The Athleticamps coaching team


The benefits of consistent performance assessment

Working with thousands of athletes of all levels of experience has revealed one trait they have in common: those that show the most improvement are the ones that regularly use performance testing to track their progress.  Most cyclists are familiar with using a power meter to track their output when riding, however, both testing and tracking are necessary elements to help athletes improve, reach goals and enjoy their sport more.


Colby came to us 6 months ago with lacking focus in his training.  He was consistent in his riding, but showed little improvement.  After an in-depth discussion and review of his current program there were four main objectives we implemented immediately:

  • Bike fitting - he told us he had significant discomfort on the bike. A rider that can't focus on training because they are uncomfortable will be limited in their fitness improvement.
  • Specific event goals  - Colby has no desire to race, but wishes to improve his fitness, travel to some cool events and step outside his comfort zone to achieve them (he did by the way!)
  • Weight goals - Determine and track attainable weight goals
  • A comprehensive testing program - We test for two main reasons:  1) to objectively determine heart rate and power training zones, 2) track progress and determine what is and what is not working in your program.


After working with Colby for 6 months, here is what we were able to determine based on two test sessions:

  • Weight dropped 3 kilos and body fat percentage decreased from 17% to 13%.
  • His wattage at lactate threshold increased from 187w to 214w which is an increase of 12.7%
  • His watts per kilo at 4 mMols of lactate (near lactate threshold) increased from 2.8 to 3.3 w/kilo which is an increase of 15%.
  • The goal is to "shift the lactate curve to the right" so at any level of lactate production, his watts are higher.  In Colby's case, you can see this quite clearly.
  • He also performed Max VO2 tests and increased his max wattage 8% and his VO2 Max went from 52.4 to 57.4 mL/kg/min which is an increase of 9%.

During this time period Colby trained an average of 6-10 hours per week and accomplished his event goals.  We just met again and planned out 2018's goals!  We love working with athletes like Colby whose love of the sport and desire to improve is infectious.

Ride safe and ride strong,

The Athleticamps coaching team

Not a Bike Fit, a Comprehensive Bike-Fitting Solution

"If I had to summarize it in a single word, I would probably use 'AMAZING.' Truly, I couldn't be happier. The bike feels like a new ride. Totally different on the road. Per your post-fit instructions, I did a few shorter rides to adapt my body to the new position, then went on a longer ride over the weekend. During these rides, I felt like I could really push myself and grow in strength. I 'thought' I was comfortable on the bike but until I did your Retül fit, I didn't really know what comfort was." Steve B. (Sacramento, CA.)

Athleticamps fitting process utilizing retul

Athleticamps fitting process utilizing retul

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a pro tour rider, being setup correctly on your bike is a must.  That sounds pretty straightforward and simple. And in most places, bike fitting is a cookie-cutter process of applying tools to figure out body-to-bike geometries. But that’s not what we do here—because cookie-cutter solutions only work on cookies. Humans are far too complex to fit into a one-size-fits-all system. Instead, we’ve spent years developing a holistic process that incorporates the complexities of each rider to create uniquely individual fit and position solutions.

Here’s what each of our professional fits includes:

Interview you
We start by getting to know you, your cycling history, how often you ride, your goals, and any issues related to achieving an optimal fit.

Conduct a pre-fit biomechanical assessment
Developed by a physical therapist, our assessment allows us to evaluate your cycling-related flexibility and core strength and how they relate to the fitting process. The assessment helps us understand any physical issues you’re having and allows us to create a personal home program plan for off-the-bike work that will improve your comfort and performance.

Provide a foot analysis
Your feet are the foundation of your pedal stroke. When your feet are incorrectly aligned, painful, or not functioning as they should, your cycling suffers (and so do you). We use FootBalance technology, because it’s the best we’ve found, to diagnose issues and quickly custom craft a product that addresses comfort, power, and efficiency issues for a stronger, more relaxed foot. If you wish to, you can purchase the fully customized inserts and use them in any shoe. 

Take measurements
Before and after your fit, we use Retül's Zin digital measuring tool to take detailed measurements of your bike with millimeter accuracy.  The measurements let you see the changes made on the bike during the fit process and give a detailed record of your final setup.

Use state-of-the art Retül technology
All fits use 3D motion analysis to guide the fitting process. Old-school plumb bobs and goniometers can’t compare to new-school motion-capture technology. Measuring your fit while you are pedaling your bike gives a far more accurate result than older methods that try to determine your fit while you are in a fixed position (static fit.)

Explain all changes
We believe it’s important for you to understand what we’re doing and why. We explain every adjustment we’re making and how they will improve your comfort, performance, and economy.

Review recommended off-bike exercises
The majority of athletes that visit us need to work on issues off the bike that create problems when they’re riding. After every fit, we go over specific strength and flexibility exercises with you so that you leave the fit knowing exactly what you have to do to achieve more balanced structural fitness. 

Deliver your report
You receive a detailed report via email with 24 hours of your visit. The report contains our notes, before-and-after measurements of the bike, before-and-after data captures of you in motion, and before-and-after pictures.  We also keep your data and reports on our system for easy reference should you buy a new bike, add a new component, or simply have a question.

In addition to our proven fitting process, there are a few other reasons to choose us for your bike fit:

Another benefit of working with us is that we’re independent professionals who are not connected to a company that’s trying to sell products. Our lack of company affiliation allows us to maintain an objective, product-neutral approach, so that we can freely recommend what’s truly best for you. We have a variety of replacement parts and brands available and choose the best components that compliment your fit and budget.

Saddle library demo program
We understand that your saddle is probably the biggest contributor to bike comfort. When needed, we take during your fit to understand your body and riding style and help you find a saddle that gives you long-lasting comfort and performance. Our saddle library demo program allows you to try out saddles to determine which is best for you.

Priority service
We have an outstanding long-term relationship with nearby Folsom Bike shop, which gives our clients priority on any changes we can’t do at our training center. For example, if you need new cabling installed, Folsom Bike will give you priority in getting the work done.

Time sensitivity
We know your time is valuable. We maintain and appointment-based system and stay on time to deliver your services in the estimated time so that you can plan your visit accordingly. 

Welcoming atmosphere
Our training studio offers a relaxed, professional feel where you can be assured you are receiving the attention you deserve.

Long-term care
As a full-service training center, we view your improved performance as our product. That’s why we take a complete approach that includes coaching, skills training, performance testing, and structural health. It’s also why we’re here whenever you have questions or need advice on progressing to the next level. 

Check out all our bike fitting services and call or email to setup an consultation or appointment today

Retul 3d motion analysis