It’s been great to meet everyone albeit electronically the past few days. I think what’s clear is that everyone is missing their Team El Grupo friends both on and off the bike. We will try and get a meeting with everyone on the same call soon so that we can compare our covid-hair and get some much needed banter and camaraderie.

Most of you tried the VO2 max or zone 5 intervals last week and were unanimous that fitness levels were lower then race season. That’s ok and understandable. With no immediate goal events on the horizon and no group rides to show form and drop your friends there’s not much incentive to sharpen the form. It almost seems like an indefinite foundation period of training similar to the December or January months of an Arizona racer.

One of my favorite foundation period training methods was to use large gears on false flat roads or climbs. I always figured since I avoided the weight room in off season, that I needed something similar but specific to the cycling motion. I called it Big Gear work. At Carmichael Training Systems, we called it Muscle Tension and many coaches incorporate these workouts in early season foundation training. Here’s a great link describing the efforts;

The High-Force Climbing Workout You Should Be Doing Right Now

During my racing days I regularly climbed Lemmon using this method but as I’ve gotten older I have to use shallower gradients. I often climb up Helmet Peak during the post shootout ride back to town incorporating this technique. It’s fun to mix up the cadence rhythms from time to time.

At Team El Grupo age, I wouldn’t recommend a very long effort. Try doing 2-3 minutes at 60rpm up your favorite climb or into a headwind. Try to keep your upper body still and focus on good form through the pedal stroke. It’s not the speed that’s the goal but rather putting a little more strain on the muscles without tweaking any joints. Try for 10-15 total minutes at low cadence and see how they feel.

Lastly, I’m seeing and increase in cyclist wearing masks, even solo riders. I’ve tried it and both my homemade and professional masks hardly affect my breathing. I’m going to continue to use the mask while riding to help minimize risks. I strongly recommend all of you to do the same! When you are in your kit you are representing all of us at El Grupo and we are all working toward a healthy community.