Chris Carmichael Blog: Training effectively with stronger athletes, and a leadout for the L’Etape du California

Dear Athletes,
I wanted to let you know about a tremendous cycling event and an exclusive offer from one of Carmichael Training Systems’ partners: The Amgen Tour of California. If you haven’t checked out L’Etape du California, you really need to put this ride on your To-Do List for 2011. And for being a fan of CTS, you can get 15% off on any registration package. Just enter the code “TrainRight” when you register online ( And do it before February 15 because right now regular registration is $95 and it’s going to increase to $115 after February 15.

I’ve ridden many of the roads in the L’Etape route, including the switchbacks to the Mt. Baldy Ski Area, and it’s fantastic – and hard! Here’s what the folks from L’Etape have to say about the ride:

L’Étape du California provides serious recreational cyclists the opportunity to ride a complete stage of the Amgen Tour of California – and the most challenging stage of the 2011 race at that. Riders will cover the same route as the professionals on Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California, from the City of Claremont to the Mt Baldy Ski Area. The route is breathtaking in its beauty and difficulty, covering some of the most famous and iconic sections of road in the San Gabriel Mountains: Glendora Mountain Road, Glendora Ridge Road, and the sharp “beyond category” switchbacks up to the Mt Baldy Ski Area. By the time riders return to their cars or homes in Claremont, they will have climbed close to 10,000 vertical feet and ridden close to 100 miles. While extremely challenging and requiring a high level of fitness and mental toughness, there will be ample support to help athletes see if they have what it takes to ride the route of the Amgen Tour of California.

Training Tip
During the winter and early spring, there is often a big discrepancy between the fitness levels of athletes who like to train together. We’re seeing it here with the coaches who are preparing for February CTS Camps in Buellton, California and the coaches don’t have races or camps scheduled until later in the spring. But rather than avoid each other and train separately, I tell the coaches who are not in great shape yet to swallow their pride and sit in the draft, and here’s why.

If you’re the weaker of the pair of riders, or a weaker rider in a group, you can still get a great workout while in the draft. You’ll be riding faster than you would be on your own, and often times you’ll cover more distance and be out on longer rides than if you were training alone. As you get stronger, spend some time riding at the front of the group or side-by-side with your training partner, but tuck back into the draft before you get too tired to hang on.

Right now I’m one of the riders who is in good shape, and it doesn’t bother me one bit to have a coach or athlete come on a ride with me and spend 85-90% of the time in the draft. I’m going to go the same speed whether they are on my wheel or not, but they get a better workout – as evidenced by their kilojoules and normalized power output viewed after the ride – compared to going out on their own. And I know that later in the year the tables will turn and it will be me who sits in the draft.

To train effectively you need to be honest about your current condition and check your ego when you roll out. Trying to be the toughest guy on every training ride almost always means you won’t be tough enough or fast enough when it really matters.

Want another tip: Check out this quick video tip from CTS Coach Adam Pulford:  

Chris Carmichael

Information on coaching and camps:
Information on the CTS Leadville 100 Camp and Coaching Lottery: /info.asp?uid=5357
Information on the CTS Ironman Coeur d’Alene Recon and Training Camp: /camps.asp?uid=5196

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